A couple weeks back I set off to compete in my final tournament of 2015, the IBJJF Irvine Open. At the time I needed 12 more of the total 50 points needed in the IBJJF ranking system to qualify myself for World’s 2016. This meant that a gold medal performance in Irvine would leave me more than qualified and a silver medal would get me almost there. Knowing this, I decided to sign up in the Super-Heavyweight division in which there was only one other competitor signed up, as opposed to my normal weight of middleweight where there were nearly ten competitors. The only fighter in Superheavyweight was a friend of mine who I have trained with on occasion in the past, a tough fighter named Alessandro Ferreira. I know Alessandro to be a guard player and I consider myself to be more of a guard passer so I figured that despite the size difference we would make for an exciting match up. I travelled down to the tournament with a couple of my students, Owen Duckworth (8, yellow belt) and Brian Molinaro (19, Purple Belt), and their parents and the trip was fun, as always. Owen came away with a silver and Brian a bronze and I was proud of both of their performances.
Unfortunately, two days before the tournament (which happened to be my birthday) I had come down with some sort of stomach flu which had left me laid up all day long. The day before the tournament on the way down to LA I still wasn’t feeling great and I had to force myself to eat for lack of appetite. On the day of the tournament I was finally starting to feel a bit better though not yet 100% and though I was fighting three weight classes above I still only weighed in two pounds over middleweight at the time of the fight. Still, once I got warmed up and ready to go I felt about as good as ever.
I had been expecting Alessandro to pull guard on me because I knew him to be a guard player but he came to the match with a different strategy. He decided to take me out of my game by fighting with me for the takedown on the feet in hopes of playing the match on top. This forced me to change my strategy as well and after a few minutes of trading takedown attempts I decided to play from the bottom and pulled guard. This ended up working out for me as I was able to get myself to a new position I have been working on from the “worm guard” or “lapel guard” three different times within the match which resulted in a 4-2 score at the end, leaving me with the gold. At the time I didn’t fully understand what I was doing from that position but after watching the video I was able to realize all the details of what made that position work so well for me and now I have solidified it as a part of my A game. The 27 points I received from placing first put me well over the required 50 points needed to participate in the World Championships so I will be able to start 2016 without any of the stress of worrying about having to qualify!
Up next is the Europeans, on the 23rd and 24th of January in Lisbon, Portugal! The Europeans are the third biggest IBJJF event of the year and it will be my first time in Europe so needless to say I am very excited!!
Stay Tuned!! Osssssss