Well, the Tournament in Mansfield went pretty well. It was pretty small, and had a number of tough wrestlers and MMA guys, but everybody was pretty cool at the Fight Farm Gym, where the event was held. We brought five guys down and walked away with five gold medals-AH SNAP!!! OK, maybe half a snap; it wasn’t that big of a tournament, but was a good venue for me to get my RPBJJ Competition Cherry popped, so to speak! Being coached by Ricardo is unlike any wrestling or BJJ coaching that I have ever experienced. The guy plays no favorites, throws himself headlong into coaching his students, and really does a hell of a job helping us all stick to our game plans. I think he was as tired as we were after it was all said and done. He coached me through a dicey situation in my second fight where I got thrown, became pretty pissed off about it, and almost got arm-barred for losing my cool, but he got “The Train” back on track and I ended up winning handily 8 to 2. I actually won all three of my matches, was happy about my work on the feet, minus being thrown, and was happy about control, establishing positions, and throwing up lots of submissions. It was my first entry into the advanced division and they combined my weight class with the one above mine, so I got to roll with a couple of big old boys out there! Again, we all had a great time; I actually beat two brothers (not black guys—real brothers—smiles) and they wanted a picture with me between them after the matches. I thought they might have had a bigger brother waiting for me, and got some laughs out of them.
Ricardo really chatted with me afterwards about what went well, and where to improve, and both he and Ze are taking an interest in curbing that ability I have to lose my cool and are teaching me how to mellow out (Brazilian style, I guess), relax, and play my game. I now see why Ricardo has coached BJJ world champs, and UFC veterans.
This week we focused a bit more on Judo, principles, foot trips, taking angles, and focusing more on breaking balance, and transitions rather than just worrying about one throw. We had Stew in from Baltimore. I actually don’t know his last name, but he’s a 3rd degree Judo black belt from Hawaii who also has a brown belt in BJJ. He’s a great guy, and once during a demonstration, he threw me harder and higher than I’ve been thrown in my entire life. I’ve been break-falling for years, but I hit the back of my head and the throw almost knocked me out. He spent some time with me Monday night focusing on using my entire body to break my opponent’s balance. Good stuff for the LTrain to work on!!!
On the ground, we focused on a number of chokes while controlling folks who are turtled up. I’m actually learning how to catch the crucifix off the turtle and finish with a Gi choke. If nothing else, that crucifix is a bad spot to get someone in, but I’m really feeling good about trapping the arm with my legs, controlling the opposite arm and rolling over my opposite shoulder to take the guy over.
Rolling was o.K. this week, except for today, I had a hard time working my half-guard offense with someone who is way bigger than me. Ze actually got a bit frustrated with me, and rightfully so. I just wasn’t getting my body to respond to what he was saying. Go figure.
I go to Memphis Tennessee for 3 weeks, and unfortunately will miss the Ohio Grappling Challenge on April 24. RPBjJ will be well represented, though, and I’m actually not happy that I won’t be with them. Ricardo really has his competition team geared up to win, and not accept anything else. Probably one of the stupidest things that I’ve ever heard a number of people say about BJJ tournaments is that “It doesn’t matter if I win or not.” Why the hell do the tournament then. Sure, everybody loses, but why spend the money and time preparing for the tournament if you don’t know in your heart that you can win it? I’m serious—I just don’t understand how such a shitty way of thinking has found it into the competition circles of some parts of the BJJ community. Ricardo wants no part of this, and we all know that if we lose, we lose, but we shouldn’t lose due to a lack of effort, and we should never tap just because are spirits are broken. “Keep fighting” is his mantra, and it’s actually catching fire with some of the more talented guys in the room.
I found a Marcello Garcia affiliate in Memphis where I’ll be training while I’m there. So I will get my dosage of Alliance BJJ which is cool by me. New perspectives, and new guys to train with. I’ll keep you all posted as to how it is going.
With Much Respect
Larry, the LTrain