Thursday, 14 February 2013

Montreal Abu Dhabi Pro Trials Feb 9th and 10th 2013

So, this past weekend we made the treacherous trip out to Montreal for the cursed Pro Trials.   I say cursed because this is the second year in a row that Ontario/Quebec was hit by a massive snowstorm when 90% of the competitors were on their way to the event.

We had originally planned to leave around 5am on Friday morning, but as the forecast for the storm got worse and worse, we opted to leave on Thursday evening instead.   We did all our running around, collected all the passengers and were on the road from Burlington around 9:45PM.   Ideally we could be in Montreal by 3:30am.

Let's just say the situation turned out pretty much as far from ideally as it possibly could.  Matt, Daniel, and Ken made it to Montreal for about 4:30am.  This is pretty good time, considering the snow, and blowing snow that we had to drive through.  Toronto was pretty messy, which was weird because it wasn't even really snowing at the time we went through. But the roads had not been plowed and cars were driving like maniacs.  We had a car spin out, cross all the lanes back and forth and end up facing us, stopped.  It was about 2 feet from our front bumper.  Thankfully I managed to stop in time, and get my 4-ways on to avoid being rear ended. 

We had a lot of car trouble, which I am not going to get into at this point. I am waiting to see how Hyundai Canada / Hyundai's Road side assistance / Mountain Hyundai handle the situation. If they take care of things, I will be nice about it. If they don't, well, I'll get into every detail about how things went down.   To keep things simple, for now,  We didn't get to our hotel until 5:30PM on Friday night,  in a rental car.  For the ride home,  Riccardo went with Matt, and Josh caught a ride home with Dainis.  Thanks again to Dainis for helping us out!  Josh had to get to work for Monday morning and it would have been really really cozy to put 5 people in Matt's car.   Alasdair stayed to keep me company, for which I am incredibly grateful.  It would have been lonely, boring, stressful and depressing to be stuck in Montreal by myself.

We stayed at the Auberge Universal, which is pretty much across the road from the tournament venue.   We opted for the convenience of walking to the venue for 2 days over being where the weigh-ins took place.    It's a decent hotel, with a pretty good restaurant and friendly staff.   We ate quite a few meals at the restaurant because we were lazy and tired and didn't want to go out in the snow any more then we had to.    Our room was clean and spacious enough.  Two things that were less then ideal though. Absolutely zero sound proofing for the bathroom, which was kind of funny, but a little weird and awkward to.   Also, the TV in our room was pretty crappy. It was a fine size, but it was old, and the picture was pretty warped.  Not a lot of channels either.  But, we weren't there to watch TV, we were there to do watch jiu jitsu!

Weigh ins were Friday night,  we had planned on getting to Montreal a few hours before they started so Ken and Josh could cut the last couple pounds and then be ready for the 2pm start to weigh ins.  Of course we ended up leaving way earlier, so Ken was able to weigh in early enough. I have no idea what they did while we were still on the road, but they got weighed in, and ate dinner at the restaurant at the Holiday Inn.   We got to weigh-ins a bit later, because Josh had to sit in the sauna for a bit.   It was pretty rough cutting weight after our ridiculously long and exhausting trip to Montreal but he made it a-ok.

We had dinner at the Holiday Inn Restaurant, and it was pretty good.  It's reliable and tasty there, not to expensive, and it was convenient.  Josh and I both got a piece of the brownie cheesecake and it was sooooo good.    This was the start of my complete abandonment of eating paleo.   It escalated quickly and I ended up eating Pizza Hut, cake, pancakes, hot chocolate, creamy girly drinks, and everything else under the sun that isn't paleo.  I felt like crap, but whatever.  I was stressed out, and options were limited and I like tasty food sometimes.  I'm back on track now.

Saturday morning we were disappointed to find out that the hotel restaurant didn't have a buffet for breakfast anymore.   We were really looking forward to it.  They had a decent breakfast though, and no one left hungry.   They have caramel spread in those little jam packets. So tasty.   They also have this nasty looking stuff called cretons.  It's pork and cream and looked pretty gross. No one ate it but apparently it's petty normal in Quebec.

So, onto the tournament.   Here are a few observations I made about it:
A couple things I noticed while watching the events.

1. They were being very strict on what was allowed under peoples gis.  I saw more then one fight stopped mid match, and the fighter had to take of the tights they had under their pants.  I really don't see how tights would affect a match, but they were very strict on that.

2.  They were being very strict on belts being tied.  A few times fights were stopped in the middle just to tie belts back on.  Nothing like killing the momentum. I saw a few fights that the re-starts from this went badly and guards were past or people were swept that I am certain wouldn't have happened without the restart.

3.  They were NOT being picky about gi sleeve length.  It looked like a few people were wearing 3/4 length sleeves, or short sleeves.  It's weird to be so picky about things that don't matter, and then allow some of those gis to be worn.

4.  The quality of refereeing was all over the place.  I know refereeing is a hard job, I've experienced it.  I try not to give other referees a hard time, but man,  some of the calls that were made really made me scratch my head.  There were several decisions that I was wondering if i was watching the same fight!  That being said, there were also some very good decisions made and a lot of very tricky fights to referee. 

5.  There was an unusual amount of gi rippage happening.  I saw at least 5 pairs of pants ripped in one day.  Those are seriously weird odds.  Normally you hear about 1 or 2 pairs in a long day tournament.  This weekend was not long days.  Not even 300 competitors over 2 days.   I'm curious what the underlying cause is for this.  People wearing their favourite gi?  People being extra intense with their grips?  Who knows.

6.  Overall the tournament was very well run.  It ran on schedule,was smooth sailing as far as I could see and generally 10000X better then then New York Trials.

As far as our team was concerned:

Alasdair won his first match by submission with only a bit of time left.  He had the guy in a triangle for a while, but he got out.  In the end he took the back and got a RNC.  It was a great match to start the day.   He drew his good friend Dan Davis for the second round and a very close first few minutes of the match ended with Dan taking home the win.   I imagine it was pretty weird fighting someone your as close a friend as those to are.  I mean, I'm friends with a lot of my competition, but I never train with them or anything.

Josh had a really good, low scoring fight with Nihad from Gringos,  who ended up wining the division, and taking 2nd in the light weight absolute.  I think Josh has made it his new life mission to beat Nihad while they are both still blue belts.

Matt  went 1-1 in his weight class, placing 3rd and 1-1 in the absolute, which put him in 5th I believe.  He won his first fight quite handily and in his second fight he was ahead, but it was clear the cold/flu had sapped his energy.   In the absolute Matt won his first fight in a dominate fashion and then faced a very tough Nathan Dos Santos from Toronto BJJ.  These guys have fought a couple times and it was a great match.  Matt's gi ripped 1/2 way through the fight and in the end Nathan came out with the win.  He went on to place 2nd in the Blue belt heavy absolute.

Daniel fought in the middle weight division, which isn't his usual division.  He didn't realize that it was no-gi weigh-ins the day before.  He was significantly smaller then his competition, but still managed to put on a great fight.    He won his first fight quite handily.   In the second fight, his gi ripped, and he ended up losing a tough battle.

Ken won his first fight as well, with a score of 17-0.  Then he came up against Brody from BTT (Alpha MMA).  They had a very eventful match and Brody came up ahead on points.   I would love to see these two fight again sometime.   Brody ended up winning the division, and winning the white belt absolute!   In the Absolute Ken faced a kid we all call Bocek because he looks a bit like Mark Bocek.

Overall, a pretty solid day for the team. Not amazing results, but certainly not bad.  Everyone fought their hardest and represented well. 

Overall, the level of Jiu Jitsu at the tournament was outstanding.  I think the purple belt divisions were especially stacked.  There was no easy way to the finals, and every fight on Sunday was a close match.

 I would have liked to have seen some more girls out.  It seemed like there were less then last year.  There was 0 white belts, which is almost understandable, considering they are lumped together with all the blues, in a single absolute. But It's not unheard of for an experienced white to beat blues,  2 years ago a while belt won the whole thing!  I can totally understand why there are so few trips for the ladies, when they just don't show up.    I really liked that they had more weight classes, I thought this would draw more women out, but I guess the fact that you still had to win a single absolute kept a lot of the white/blue away.

Here are the pictures I took.  If you know any of the people in them that aren't tag, please suggest the tags for me! 

I'm looking forward to next year's trials. I'm not going to have a concussion, and I'm going to be in good shape for it.  Hopefully I'll be able to cut for the -132 division and It'll be fun.

This weekend is the Toronto Grappling Tournament.  We've got 10 people competing, so that should be a good time.  I will be refereeing again, so I won't be able to watch my team mates :(   That is the downside to contributing to the sport I suppose. 

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