Friday, 8 March 2013

IBJJF Boston Winter International Open Trip March 3rd 2013

This past weekend Jon and I made the trip down to Boston for the Open.

 I've had to expand my competition attending area geographically because there just isn't really anyone to fight locally anymore. It's a sad state of things, If I want to fight in more than one or two tournaments a year, I HAVE to travel. The sadder state of things is that even with traveling all the way to Boston, for their biggest tournament of the year, I still was alone in my weight class. But, there is always the absolute, with a whopping 4 girls entered.

So, here's how the weekend went down.

I left work around 2:30 so I could do a bit of running around before picking Jon up at the arranged 3:00PM. I headed to the bank to grab some american cash (sadly at only 0.97 to the dollar) filled up the gas tank and bought a couple sugar free rockstars, and then picked Jon up from work. We headed straight to the airport since we had packed everything up the night before and had put it in the car in the morning. 

The border is always an adventure, you never know what they are going to do, one of the last times, we had to go in the car x-ray, which was new and exciting, but took almost an hour. Thankfully that didn't happen on Friday, or we would have been freaking out. We were on a fairly tight schedule with our flights departure at 6:40pm. Anyway... We got the usual questions: citizenship, where do you live, who owns the car, where are you going, for how long, who is competing? Oh? just you? What are you bringing in? Then, he asked me to turn off the car, step out and open the trunk. That's a new one. usually they just ask you to Open the trunk from inside the car. Of course, the trunk is empty, so he was all "Where is your stuff" and I was like, "In the back seat".. "Oh, take off the cover". No problem, nothing under there but a spare tire. He seemed satisfied that we weren't terrorists and we were on our way.

We hit traffic once we were in the states, so it took about 1/2 hour longer than we expected, which was annoying, because we both had to pee! We opted for the closer long term lot, which is like $12/day but still a very short walk to the terminal, instead of our usual long term B lot, which is like $9, but you have to take a shuttle. Buffalo Airport parking is soooo much cheaper than Toronto, just one of the reasons we prefer to fly out of buffalo.

So we get to security, and go through the scanners, and I'm waiting for my bags to get scanned, and my purse has set off the scanner. In my head I'm going "Awwww man, what did I forget to take out this time???". The lovely TSA lady was like "Who's bag is this?" and I go "It's mine, what did I forget this time?". She didn't seem amused. She takes it over to the desk, puts on the rubber gloves and starts rummaging around. To be helpful I said "I don't mind if you just dump it all, I know it's hard to find things in there because of the lining". Again, not amused. So, she rummages around for a minute or two, and finds one of my swiss army knives. Ooooops. "There's one" she says. "in my head I go "one? what? am I dumb enough to have 2 in there?".... rummage rummage rummage... "Here's another". DAMNIT! Why did I have 2 swiss army knives in my purse??? I don't remember what exactly I said, but It was along the lines of "I forgot to dump my purse out on my couch before I left". She put the purse back through, and didn't find anymore, thank goodness. But, now I had the choice of going back and checking a bag with them in it, or bringing them back to my car and going back through security. At this point, our flight was leaving in less than an hour, so I didn't really have time for those options. So, now I am short 2 swiss army knives.

The worst part about this part of the story is that, once we were through security, we found our flight on the board, and it was delayed. So I had time. *sigh* We decided to get a bit to eat at the restaurant right by security, since it was also close to our gate, and seemed like it was the best bet for "real" food options. It really wasn't. Everything was deep fried, or a sandwich. I'm playing with doing a keto-diet right now, so none of that was really an option. I opted for the steak and cheese sandwhich, and just ate the toppings. Jon got some onion rings, and something else I forget. Very nutritious food. Jon's stupid card wouldn't scan b/c his magnetic strip is worn out, I've told him to replace it a million times, but I think he just avoids it so I have to pay for more things LOL. The waitress thought it was because we have chip cards, she didn't seem to understand that that is just an alternate way to use the card, not the only way.

So, we head over to our gate, and it turns out our flight isn't leaving until 8:45. What a pain in the ass. All that rushing around, losing my knives, getting out of work early, and careful scheduling for nothing. The plus side is, we got $25 each credit for JetBlue because it was over there "allowed" time. 10 more minutes or so and it would have been $50. Too bad. Thankfully our flight was direct and we were deplaned in Boston by 10:30 or so.

This is turning into a novel. Oh well, that's what happens when I go on an adventure. Carrying on...

The car rental was pretty smooth, they had lots to choose from, and it was a bit of a different procedure than other times we've rented cars. Basically they walked us out to the lot, and told us the options and said "Which would you like?" We choose a bright orange Dodge Dart so we could find it easily in the parking lot, and remember which car was ours. We didn't really like how the car drove, it seemed like the gas and brake were both overly sensitive, and it wasn't that comfortable. The trunk was gigantic though, and once I got the seat back, and lowered, it had decent space for a small car. The whole thing felt kind of cheap though.

Our hotel was a pretty typical Holiday Inn Express. Free WiFi, free parking, free breakfast, decent TV and a fairly comfortable beds. They are my go-to hotel these days. We stayed in Braintree, because it was way cheaper than staying in Boston proper, and it was only like 10 min from the airport and venue. Braintree is such a weird name for a town, I wonder how it came to be? 

On Saturday we went to Bruno Amaral and Nathalia Azoff's school in Medford to do a bit of training. They have a great little school and it was really friendly and fun. If you remember from a post a while ago, Nathalia is the one who stole my trip to worlds at the first Toronto Grappling. and by stole I mean, came , kicked my butt, and then we became friends. She's ridiculously good, and it was a lot of fun to roll with her, and her teammates. They have a great group of ladies at their school to. There was almost as many ladies on the mat as there were men!! Unheard of! Embarassing fact, I forgot my belt at the hotel, because I had be rearranging my bags, so I didn't have to lug all 3 of my gis and cloths around for the day.  I felt pretty stupid, and kind of disrespectful showing up with no belt, but it was a pretty casual class, so it wasn't world ending. Thank you Professor Bruno and all the guys and gals at their school for allowing me to train with you. It was a great experience and I can't wait to come back. 

After training we did a bit of shopping. First we went to Building 19, which is pretty much the American equivalent to Liquidation World (which I think went out of business, funny, they sell stuff from other stores going out of business, then they do.). Jon picked the store, apparently he has read about it on Something Awful and other internet places he frequents. We found some interesting things, like a bunch of copies of the same book, with 2 different prices. Bottles of body wash that were obviously Irish Springs, but with paper labels hinting that that is what it was. Some old books from like 1995, and shoes that looked like they were from the 80's. All in all, it was a bit disappointing, but a nice littler diversion and good for a laugh or two.  

After that we hit up this GIGANTIC mall a couple blocks from the hotel called South Shore Plaza. It had 4 entrances from the main road in Braintree, or, what seemed to be the main road anyway. This mall had more department stores than a small city has I swear. It had: Lords and Taylor, Sears, Macys, Nordstrom, and Target. Alright, I guess that might not be as many as a small city, but it seems a bit excessive for 1 mall don't you think? Anyway, it was a really nice mall. It had a lot of the usual stores. I hit up Body Shop, since they tend to have more selection than here in Canada. They had a sale going on, where you play plinko with a lip balm and get whatever discount it lands on. They basically all worked out to 50% off, just differently, like buy 2 get 2, or 50% off, or spend $20 and get $10 off, or spend $40 and get $20 off. Unfortunately mine ended on spend $40 get $20 off. Normally this would be great, it's not hard to spend $40 on all the delish smelling amazing products they have. It's a lot hard to spend $40, on things you can take on a plane, without checking a bag, when you don't wear makeup. So, I hit up the travel section and stocked up on small size body wash, lip balms, and body butters. Their new sweet lemon flavour is pretty excellent.

We also hit up PacSun, which is a skater/surf store that we don't have here in Canada, think west 49, but a little less juvenile. They had a t-shirt sale on, so we picked up a few RVCA t-shirts for $10 each. I bought this ridiculous one with a bunch of cats on it.  We browsed Macy's and a few other stores, then got bored and hungry and went back to the hotel for the night.

Did you know Domino's now has stuffed cheesy garlic bread? Our hotel key told us about it, and of course, Jon had to order it. It's pretty tasty, but not as amazing as it looks on the commercials. Worth a try though, if you're into that kind of thing.

Now, what you've all been waiting for. Me, talking about the actual tournament!!

So, Sunday morning, we checked out and headed for the venue, note to self, and to future people going to this tournament in the future. The address is NOT where your Garmin GPS will bring you. That may be the closest real address, but it took us about 25 minutes of wandering down the roads and driveways in the area to find the actual athletics complex venue. They really should put a map to the actual building on the website. The venue was nice, but they should have pulled out another set of bleachers, It was quite crowded and a lot of people were standing in front of the barricades because there wasn't a lot of room in the stands. 

The setup was a typical setup, with a fenced in area that only people in gis were allowed in. I wasn't even allowed to check my weight in my street cloths. A bit of a PITA, but a good policy to keep it from getting over crowded with people who aren't supposed to be in there. The gi check and official scale area was very small and crowded. It caused traffic jams, and made it difficult to get in and out of the area between matches and whatnot

The organization of the tournament was pretty much what you would expect from IBJJF, except that single person divisions kind of got lost in the chaos, so we had to remind them a few times, and kind of bully our way in to get weighed in, and our divisions closed, so we could register for the absolute. I saw we, because pretty much all the purple, and brown women's divisions were solo divisions. I think that the IBJJF should combine Purple brown black for the women, for the Regional Events like Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Montreal, and the like. It's not necessary at the Pans, Worlds, No Gi worlds and NO Gi pans, but for these other "local" events, It really sucks to make the trip, pay $115, make weight, and then have only the absolute. 

Speaking of the absolute, I lost. To a feather weight. *hangs head in shame*. Man, Erin Herle is so good. She's got ridiculous guard retention, and kept making me sit down on my butt lol. She's also deceivingly strong for someone so small. I really think it's time for me to start lifting heavy things. Anyway, we had a great fight I think, It was a 7 minute fast paced war. She put me in more bad positions than I've ever been in a fight, but I managed to escape them all, with out panicking, and that is a victory for me. This was a tough event for me mentally, coming off of over 2 months off from a bad concussion. The weeks leading up to it I was having some minor panic moments where I would be sure I was going to get kneed in the head again and end up having to quit jiu jitsu. I would play scenarios through my head of what I would do if that happened. How fat I would get, how lazy I would get, what would I do with myself? It wasn't good, but I got past it, thankfully. I did get kneed or elbowed in the nose, it's still a bit tender, but it didn't bleed or anything. I also got some styling gi or mat burn below and around my eye. That's how you know you've had a good fight. 

As you probably read on Facebook, I had a bit of a scheduling conflict, the last flight from JetBlue (my preferred airline) was 8:50pm, and the schedule came out weeks after I scheduled the flight. Turns out the absolute wasn't till 6:40. That's complicated, considering we had a rental car, and you're supposed to be at the airport 1.5h before your flight leaves. I talked to the head table guy, and he said he could close the absolute registration after all the women's purple belt fights were done (which was 3 I think) and then we could run it right away. He was mistaken, not his fault. Because it was posted online and everywhere that it closed at 5:00, he couldn't do it any earlier than that. OK, we can still work with that. So at 5:05 they called our division and asked the other 3 girls if they minded fighting then, instead of 6:40. They were all for it. So we were done by 5:45 or so. Erin Herle won the absolute, which made me feel a bit better about the loss. After watching the other two fight, I am looking forward to fighting them in the future, I think they will be good fights.

The tournament organization wasn't perfect. There were a couple times where there was 0 fights running on the 8 rings. This didn't last long, but It's something to improve. I think it's partially because they were to cautious with the schedule, and partially because they scheduled to many divisions to start at the same time. This caused traffic jams at the gi check and weigh in area so no one could get started. They should have staggered it so that only one weight class was on the scale at a time, so they could get started without having to wait for the other ones mixed into the queue.

The awards area and medals were all the standard IBJJF. Super shiny gold, shiny silver, dull bronze. I've got a gold, and bronze to add to my collection, but I don't really care to talk about them, or even say that I won them, because I didn't win them. While it is true that it's not my fault that I had no one to fight, and that I did train, and make the trip, and show up, I still can't justify saying I earned the gold medal. The bronze, from the absolute, I can almost say I earned. No, I didn't WIN a fight to get it, but I did fight for it, so that's something. It was a good fight to, not just me getting tapped out in 5 seconds. There are so many debates on the internet about default medals. I'm still not fully committed to one side or the other. I think that is because, as a female fighter, It happens to me, and my friends so often, that we have a different perspective of it than the light weight guys who always have tonnes of people. They never experience what it's like to have no one, or less the 4 people to fight to EARN your medal. Does the fact that there was only 4 in the absolute make Erin's gold worth less than one of the men's divisions that has 16 or more? I don't think so. Sure, she had less fights to get it, but who's to say the level of people she fought wasn't higher than in the larger divisions? It's hard to say. I say props to her for doing the absolute as a feather weight, and for kicking our butts. She deserves the right to her double gold. Anyway... that tangent doesn't really have anything to do with Boston so I'll end it now.

They weren't being to picky about gis on Sunday. I saw a girl who's pants literally came up to mid calf when she was standing straight. They were practically bermuda shorts when she crouched and/or squatted. Based on that, I wore my smaller, black A1 redstar instead of my A1L navy Redstar. I can make it passable at the gi check, because it actually has reasonable length sleeves, but the jacket is short, and the pants are very short. If I have the pants low enough to look long enough, you can see my rashguard through the slit in the side of the jacket. But, they don't seem to care about that, as long as you wear your belt high enough that there is a decent amount of jacket below the belt. So, wear my belt close to my actual waist, and BINGO IBJJF legal gi. I did see one guy have to change his gi because his pants were frayed. I don't know how that got passed the inspectors, but the ref stopped that pretty quick. The refereeing in general seemed pretty solid. They were calling penalties for stalling FAST which I like, and calling ones from bad grips and such, which are often neglected. I saw one DQ for a knee reap/turning the wrong way on an ankle lock. It was sad to see, because it was obviously a case of neether fighter really knowing it was wrong, and neither of them wanted the fight to end. It's a hard way to learn the rules, but I don't think either of them will do roll the wrong way on an ankle lock again.  

NOTE TO EVERYONE: READ THE RULES AND UNDERSTAND THEM. If you don't understand them, ask your professor, team mates, or the internet for clarification. There is nothing worse than preparing hard for a tournament, and then losing by DQ for something you should have known better. 

I got to watch a couple of my extended team mates from Art of Jiu Jitsu compete while we were there to! They all preformed extremely well. I didn't get to see everyone's matches but I watched most of Rick's and he competed excellently. He survived what looked like an insanely tight triangle for quite some time to win one of his fights, and I was really impressed with how he stayed calm and didn't panic. He hit a couple beautiful subs as well. I think I have a couple pictures, I should put them up on Facebook. After Chicago maybe I will have some time lol. anyway... Congrats to the whole team for an excellent performance. I cannot wait to get back to California to train with them all again!

In a few hours I am picking Jon up from work, and we are making the 7.5 hour drive to Chicago for the Chicago Winter Open. I've moved up to Heavy Weight for this one, so that I have a fight in my division as well as the absolute. Last weekend I weighed in at 161.5 with my Gi on, 2lbs under the 163.5 weight limit for medium heavy. I think I am down about 1.5lb since then, I'm on my way to middle weight! Once I get to middle, I think I will move between middle and medium heavy depending where the competition is, but I'm not sure fighting in 163.5+ will be a great Idea when I am weighing 152.5. I guess it really depends who it is in the heavy weight division. I'm not saying I won't fight big girls, I've been doing that my whole life, but there is always the absolute for that, so I will be more picky about shifting weight classes once I am down to middle. I think having people to fight will be less of an issue once I'm in middle weight as well. The lighter weight classes have more bodies in them generally. Locally, I'll probably end up fighting in the +141.5 (at Grappling Industries) and whatever division has people in it at the OJA events.

After Chicago we have a week off, then the Niagara Open. I'm pretty much counting on a refund for that one, but I've registered anyway. I think I will be refereeing, so I'll have plenty to do that day anyway. A decent amount of guys from Pura are going, so that'll be a fun team building day

Grappling Industries Toronto: Italian Edition is also coming up soon. April 13th. This was formerly being known as the Redstar Open, but that is not the case anymore. If you're a purple or brown belt guy, this is where you should be. They are giving away 2 trips (light and heavy absolute) to ROME for the Europeans and the NoGi one that runs on the same weekend. I wish there was enough girls to make it worth their while to have a girls division, because that would be a hellova trip.

Alright, this novel is long enough now. See you on the Mats!


  1. I like how you post every single possible detail. :)