RGA Invitational 2017

Won one, lost two. But broke my losing streak.

Plus, while the last two matches could have gone better, they were against tough opponents and I felt I did at least a few things right.

Also entered my first absolute. Which was an interesting experience, although given that one opponent was a middleweight and the other a rematch with the gentleman who I beat at lightweight, I’m not sure I really got the whole effect. Both losses, unfortunately, but again feel I’m making progress. Interestingly, I think we both performed better in the rematch; but obviously him more than me!

Kleos X

Not my best performance. My first no gi and I ended up being put up to middleweight. Got smashed, twice. Basically one of those days where I just didn’t do myself justice. Couldn’t find my rhythm in the first one; and the second was just an embarrassing failure to defend effectively. :-<

So it goes. I’m still in the initial stages of blue belt and it’s all grist to the experience mill. Time to put some more hours into no gi.

London Pro 2017

Only one match, but one of my more exciting ones. Some good positional battles, sweeps going both ways and multiple submission attempts (albeit perhaps not all of the highest calibre). And ending with a last ditch defence to a choke with the tap right on the buzzer.

Unfortunately, I was on the wrong end of the submission. :-<

Still a good day out. Interesting to compete in a non-points rule set, even if I didn’t quite make it to the EBI overtime. It does change the rhythm of the match. You can’t get a lead in the same way you can with points, so the pressure is always on. At the same time, giving up a sweep isn’t as serious. At one stage I gave up top position in order to attempt an ankle lock, which I wouldn’t have tried in a points system (at least not at that point).

I quite liked it and would definitely do it again — without feeling that it’s the be all or end all of rule sets. One of the nice things about BJJ as a sport is that it’s wide enough to take in a variety of approaches to competition.

Now for a shift to nogi in the run up to Kleos X in August.

Brighton Open 2017

Won one, lost two.

As usual, I’m pleased with the one I won! He got off to a fast start, getting into side control after my guard pull and taking an early lead. But I stayed calm and managed to regain guard, then pull off a sweep. Quite pleased with my knee slice from there. I’ve been working on keeping my weight over the leg rather than coming too far forward, which worked well. At that point I think he’d just gassed out and I didn’t have too much trouble getting to mount and then staying on top for most of the match. Couldn’t quite get the submission though. I had a cross collar choke which I think was close, but I should have tried to get my grips just a fraction deeper before starting to apply it. Also went for a arm bar, which let him come up on top (Roger clearly has a point about the advantages of the cross choke from mount over the arm bar). But still a comfortable points win in the end.

Second was my third fight against Joel who would be a good candidate for a nemesis if he wasn’t such a nice guy. Went pretty much the same way as our previous encounters. I pull guard, he knee sliced (despite my best efforts to turn in and stop him), then he hunted for a submission. In the end he finished me with an arm bar. The fact of the matter is Joel is technically better than me at the moment. I’m determined to catch him though.

Third, he pulled, so I started on top for a change. But he was good at breaking posture / base and I muddled the guard pass, letting him sweep me. I think I do have an issue around establishing the initial passing position. In competition I often hack this, by starting my guard pass off a sweep. This often means my opponent is already out of position or scrambling, letting me set up the pass more easily. I need to get better at doing this when I start on top. Once he’d swept, he got into mount and we basically stalled out. I couldn’t escape and, although he was going for subs, he (quite rightly given the circs) wasn’t taking many risks.

The blue belt grind continues…. Onwards!

IBJJF British National 2017

Lost in my first match. :-<

Not much to say technically. It was pretty close for most of the match, then I took a late lead with a sweep and thought I had it in the bag with about 20 seconds to go. We got restarted, I didn’t pay enough attention to the position. Rather than restarting in a fairly decent position for me, I left myself vulnerable for his triangle. Defended it badly. And finally tapped.

So two big lessons. First, I’ve got to watch that restart. I got a lot of good advice after from people about noting your grips, leg position etc, showing them to the ref and making sure you get them back. Just in case anyone is reading this, I’d emphasise that I only had myself to blame. In the hubbub of the match I didn’t realise we’d restarted in a quite different position until I rewatched the tape. And I doubt the ref or my opponent did either.

Second, and related, it’s vital to maintain focus throughout the match. Part of the reason I was sloppy off the restart was that I thought I had it. And then, once I was in the triangle, I was just trying to hold on for the final seconds, rather than work a proper technical escape. If I’d kept my focus and actually tried to get out, I suspect I might have at least held off the tap for the time I needed. Ain’t over till it’s over.

British Open 2017

Unfortunately, a rerun of my last match at Kleos; same opponent and much the same match. Also unfortunately, this time he got the sub as well — an arm triangle setup from mount that I had little choice but to tap to.

Not much of substance to say this time out. I need to work on my resistance to knee slice passing, in particular avoiding being caught square when I go back into half guard from other guard retention movements. But, in essence, I lost to the better opponent and just need to grind on getting better myself.

One of the nice things about having gone up a belt, however, is that one can afford to be relaxed about the results at this stage. Even on the most optimistic timescale, I’ve got one (more probably two or three) British Opens at blue belt. My time will come. ;->

Kleos 9

Won one, 25-0; lost one 19-0. Silver.

Obviously happy with the first. I pulled guard, got the sweep and then just stayed ahead of him the whole match; moving around well. Inevitably I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t make it to a submission. At one point I definitely should have had an arm bar from mount but didn’t quite control the position well enough. I needed to mentally shift from flowing around his efforts (which had been working well) to locking him down in mount a bit. I was just still a bit too loose. Had a slightly nasty moment towards the end when he made a pretty determined series of attempts to wrist lock me. But fought them off to take the points victory.

Second, was almost a rerun of the first — but with me being the one behind. Pulled guard, but didn’t establish a good position; he slipped past and I ended up struggling in side control for the majority of the match. I’m pretty sure he had points for both mount and the back as well (possibly more than once). My guard retention / guard recovery clearly needs work. On the other hand, I did stave off the submission attempts pretty well and never felt in serious danger of tapping.

Unfortunately no film this time due to a lack of teammates available at the relevant time.

Broadly, I’m taking this as the first comp of my 2017-18 season (The Euros being in January makes that a good endpoint). So, with that in mind I’m cautiously pleased to have held my own at blue belt. But obviously much more work to be done yet. I also suspect that the British Open (with a bigger bracket) will give me a better sense of where I am.