Last weekend I fought in two competitions. The first was on Saturday, it was the Grappling Industries Melbourne Tournament. It was my first ever BJJ competition and I wasn’t nervous at all. I have had so many years of competition prep that I didn’t feel any kind of pressure to perform. The problem was that during the match I was calmer than I should have been against inexperienced opponents.
My opponents were more experienced than me at BJJ but not at fighting. When you watch a lower ranked fight in Taekwondo, it is almost complete chaos, no one is calm, both athletes are kicking like crazy and points are coming up out of nowhere. I forgot that lower ranked fights are crazy. White belt BJJ competitors are very aggressive. Way more aggressive than the higher ranked guys that I’m used to training with. Its more calm when more knowledge is involved. The same mentality applies in Black Belt Taekwondo competitions. I can be calm, pick my points, attack and counter when necessary.
I felt almost surprised when the BJJ guys were attacking me so aggressively. It put me into some bad spots and I felt a little overwhelmed. I fought 5 times in that competition, I won 2 fights, one via arm bar and lost three, one by arm bar, one my rear naked choke and one by points. In every fight I was bum rushed and attacked straight away. I felt like I was being bullied, it felt like the first time I fought in the Senior divisions in Taekwondo. I was 18 and I fought a 29-year-old. Even though I won the match, the strength and maturity advantage was clear.
As I move up the ranks in BJJ the fights will become calmer and more suited to my style. However, I cannot ignore this new weakness I have found in my game. In BJJ I don’t deal well with aggression. I have looked around for wrestling schools and MMA Sparring opportunities so I can adapt to more aggressive opponents when submissions can come so quickly. You can lose a fight in 30 seconds and walk off the mat with no injuries.
On the Sunday I fought in the Victorian Taekwondo Championships. I had a quick 20 minute warm up and was the third fight of the day. My first fight was against a relatively inexperienced, yet strong player from Team Taekwondo that I haven’t fought before. He landed a soft back kick on me at the end of the first round so he was winning 4-1 but in my head I knew that I would regain control at my first chance. In the second and third rounds I controlled the ring, kicked him in the head, landed a back kick of my own and proceeded to play a smart counter game until time ran out and I won on points. I had a bye in the Semi and fought the final against a taller, very experienced player from OTC. OTC is a very competitive club, with a lot of aggressive players. I expected that it wouldn’t be as simple as the first fight.
As the fight starts I tried to figure out his game and in about 30 seconds I had picked his techniques. He was doing a cut kick into the clinch in the hopes to hit a crescent kick from in close due to his height and leg length. So to counter this I jumped over/punched through his cut depending on its height and in the clinch blocked his crescent and popped him on the flank on the other side. This worked about 5 times throughout the fight. Afterwards in the third round there was about 20 seconds left and he got through my block with a crescent, I moved my head out-of-the-way anyway but the points came up. Luckily I was still up 9-4. the clock ran down to about 5 seconds and his onslaught came. I blocked and avoided until time ran out. Winning the Gold Medal at the Vic’s for the 13th time.
After the weekend I have competed in 8 matches this year. Well on my way to my 30 fight target. Only 1 away from matching last years injury plagued 9 fight total. The frequency of fighting is very important when trying to raise your game to a higher level. I can’t wait for the next comp.