Surrey Open 2018

Last comp of the year, first 🥇 at blue. So a good day at the Surrey Open.

While I’m happy with the result, both matches were by the skin of my teeth. First opponent picked up a decisive penalty from an inadvertent illegal sleeve grip and would definitely have won a ref’s decision (he had a decent triangle attempt and came within a hair of getting the tap from an arm bar). Second I was able to stand up off a couple of straight footlock attempts to pick up the necessary points. Advantage of a bit more comp experience and a home club full of people who would rip your foot off soon as look at you.

London Fall International 2018 Gi and Nogi

Useful two days at the IBJJF London Fall International. Competed in masters 2, light gi and nogi. Won one, lost one in the gi on Saturday. Then lost two in no gi today (one in my division, one in absolute).

Not entirely unhappy with my performance, because I can see where I’m improving. But still working on putting all the moving pieces together live.

Also, my first two day tournament (go on the Saturday / no-gi on the Sunday).


Kleos is always fun. It’s simultaneously well run and informal. Plus it has quirky themes — this time pro wrestling.

I took bronze in blue masters light — but in a division of four that’s not all that great. Still better on the podium than off. First match I got caught in a guillotine pretty early on and flubbed the defence. Basically, did the right things but too slowly and not with enough conviction. As often happens my first match had loosened me up and I did better in the second, winning on points. Then entered the absolute (I do kind of want one of those hammers…) Lost to a smaller, but more technical and aggressive opponent on points.

Stuff to work on:

  • Guillotine defence
  • Flow, commitment and aggression: I need to commit to stuff more. In both my first match and the absolute you can see bits where I’m hesitating — both when I should be the aggressor and in moment where I’ve been swept or passed and need to counter-attack into the window of opportunity. Need to work on getting rid of this hitching.

Master International Europe

Lost the first round on points 10-0 against Gustavo Camacho Muñoz (who went on to take bronze, beating my victorious opponent from Lisbon on the way).

Not a bad match. I pulled guard and he almost immediately passed. He was within a few inches of getting to my back off the pass. But I managed to defend and force him into side control (although you know things aren’t going well when your opponent getting into side control is a relief). Then he went onto knee on belly. I managed to frame him off and catch a foot, allowing me to re-guard. I got back to closed guard, but opened it — and he passed again. We did an almost precise repeat as I got back to closed guard off his move knee on belly. Right at the end I thought he was starting to slow down slightly. But still an essentially one sided match in his favour, despite some decent defence on my part.

Lessons learned:

  • I need more hours on the mat. I think that’s a big thing at this point. I’m not out of my league. But I’m only a year plus change into blue belt and I think that shows. Need to keep grinding away and doing more comps.
  • Probably related, I need a smoother, more focused and aggressive guard game.
  • I need to close the athletic gap. There are some worryingly strong and well conditioned people in Masters 2 and I need to be one of them.


Euros No-gi 2018

One win, one loss; bronze. Then lost one in the absolute to take a default silver.

Pleased with the first match. I pulled guard and managed to sweep reasonably early, which put me two points up. He stood up explosively and I pulled guard again. He had good heavy passing and managed to put me to turtle several times, but I always managed to re-guard. To be honest, I think it was an example of competition experience telling. This was my 25th and, at this stage, I’ve got a fairly good grip on how the points system works. So, having swept, I knew I was two points up and, provided I could avoid a standing battle, I was confident my guard could keep me ahead. It would have been nice to get another sweep and I need to work on controlling people from the top where they’re playing a more explosive, wrestling type game rather than a more classic BJJ guard. But I’m still happy with the win.

Second I lost by single advantage. I pulled and he managed to drive forward into a decent head and arm choke immediately. But, thanks to some excellent darce players back in the gym, I’ve got fairly good at defending these. Managed to work my way out and went into my half guard game as he tried to pressure pass. Basically we stalled out from there. I was trying my usual chain of underhook sweeps, kimuras and trying to come under the outside leg, but had excellent posture, so I just couldn’t get any of it started. At the same time, my half guard coped well with his passing. A couple of times he started to get me flattened out, but I was able to insert a butterfly hook and get back to a secure position. In the end he won off the advantage from the initial choke attempt. Which, much as I’d like to quibble, was absolutely fair. It was the closest either of us had got to a successful move.

This lead on to the other important lesson. In gi, I make a lot of use of collar chokes from half guard as a means of generating movement, particularly against heavy passing. Even though it’s not a terribly high percentage submission, it forces people to posture in order to deal with the attack. No gi I don’t have that option and need to find an equivalent tool (probably head snaps and guillotines).

I was very much in two minds about entering the absolute. In the end decided it was just nerves and I’d regret not doing it (which was absolutely right). There were only three of us in it at the end and I lost to an ultra-heavy.

A few things learnt there. I mucked up the reset because I thought I should have butterfly hooks in after we’d gone out of bounds. But the ref restarted us as I started to raise that. I’m not confident of my recollection, but I think the issue was that my opponent didn’t hear the first halt. Since I’d stopped he’d been able to clear my hooks. And then, understandably, expected to restart from that position. I wanted my hooks back in and started to scoot inwards him, at which point the ref cried ‘Combatch!’ So he caught me too close, moving towards him and without a guard. He got passed, started to apply cross-face and I tapped to the pressure.

Looking back at the tape, I think it’s clear that I was nervous. In particular I think I tapped from a combination of genuinely feeling mild damage to my neck muscles (fair enough) together with panic and annoyance over the restart (not great). It’s only my second absolute and my first competitive match against someone substantially bigger. It’s definitely a different vibe. So I’m glad to have got the experience under my belt. Next time I hope I’ll be a bit more relaxed.

Euros 2018

Won my first, lost my second.

First was close. I pulled guard and then we both struggled to get much going. Then, in pretty much the final seconds, I managed to sweep. Second, he slipped past my guard and took my back. I didn’t tap quick enough and went out. Which is a very strange experience. I woke up feeling slightly worried I’d somehow missed something, possibly my train. But it’s essentially like fainting.

It’s only my second, but I’m basically treating the Euros as my main yardstick event. With that in mind, I’m mildly pleased. Winning a match is an improvement on last year! And, a year into blue, I think I’m in the ballpark to be competitive here; if significantly below the podium level. I’ve got a year to close that gap.