Friday, 28 March 2014

2014 IBJJF Pans Recap / Report

It's hard to believe it's already been 2 weeks since I competed at Pans.  The entire trip was a really great experiencel; the california weather, the shopping, the training, spectating, and competing.  part of the reason it's taken me so long to get this blog post started/finished was because I could figure out what I wanted to focus on and how I wanted to structure it.  There is just so much to talk about that the thought of typing it all out was overwhelming me.  That, and I recently restarted playing diablo 3, which is another problem all together.

I'm going to start with my competition experience, and branch out in time from there.  It might be the most illogical way to do things but that's just how it's going to me.

I competed in the medium heavy division, and was actually stupidly close to the top of it, considering I was 148lbs just over 3 weeks before. It's amazing how fast I fatten up when I say F it to making a tiny weight class.   I had a late lunch and some snacks Wednesday, and some snacks before competing on Thursday.  I wasn't dehydrated or anything, but perhaps not optimumly fueled.  I ended up being 1.5 under, but hey, better under then over because at these things, they don't mess around, if you are over by 0.1 you are out.

My division had 6 people in it, that means there is 1 fight in the "quarter finals" and everyone else is automatically in the semis. That means for everyone but myself and Melissa (the girl I fought), they could lose their first fight, and still get on the podium.   This isn't uncommon in the higher belt, girls division at pans or even worlds.  That being said, I was actually happy to be in the fight in the Quarter Finals.  I wanted to have the path of greatest resistance to my medal, no matter what colour it may or may not end up being.  Please don't take this to mean I don't think the girls that got bronze earned their medals. They 100% did, they trained, they showed up, they made weight, and they fought their asses off! they earned them.

Going into this event, I had it in my head that I wanted to go back to my roots a bit.  I had 2 things I wanted to do.  Get a throw, and pull DLR and not get my guard passed imidiately.  I accomplished the first (get a throw)  in my first and third fight, and I pulled DLR and didn't get my guard passed in the second. So, even though, I didn't get the exact results I wanted, I am really happy to have accomplished those two things.

My first fight was a really fun fight. It was probably the most fun of the day.  We were closely matched, and I think we had fairly even strength as well.  She had really good defense to all my attacks and had a really good guard.  After a mid-match intermission for my bloody nose (which the medics thought they could stop wtih some glue, hahah silly medics, you've got to shove some stuff up there), I ended up winning the match on points.  I think, if the draw was different, she could have easily ended up on the podium, and even in the final.  During the match I could here Professors Rafa and Gui cornering me, which was awesome. I didn't know they were there until I heard them yelling mid-match.  They gave me excellent advice and information (no surprise really) and having them there really helped. At some point during this match, my knee got twisted in a really crazy way.  At the time, I remember thinking to myself "that's probalby not a good way to have your leg, let's move it". But after that I forgot about it until we got back to the hotel at the end of the day.

After that match I suddenly felt really really sick.  Maybe it was adrenaline, or from not eating enough, or what ever, but I got the shakes, my stomache and digestive system was trying to eat itself and I ended up running to the bathroom and spending more time in there they anyone should have to.  I ended up being on deck by the time I was out of there and my ring coordinator was not impressed.  I didn't really have time to explain because I was up almost right away.  That would have really sucked if I hadn't made it back... anyway, I was feeling a bit better, but in my head I thought I needed to not mess around because I wasn't sure my body was going to hold up to another full length match.

Second match of the day went pretty much by the books.  I pulled DLR (yay), worked it a bit, even re-guarded to DLR when she tried to pass, then I switched to closed guard when the opportunity came about.  From their i worked the grips and went for the closed guard arm bar for the win.  I felt pretty good after the match and my ring coordinator reminded me not to go far this time.

The final match was a tough fight.  Sarah is a really good, and really strong competitor from out west.  She is the only girl I fought that day that felt stronger then me, but that is no excuse. She beat me with good jiu jitsu.  I hit a footsweep at the begining and ended up in closed guard.  For the next 4 minutes it was a battle of me trying, unsuccessfully to pass and her working collar chokes and some sweeps.  My gi came undone pretty badly, but the reff didn't seem to mind,  at one point, when she pulled on my sleeve the gi came so far off my arm was exposed to my elbow!  It was pretty annoying, probably just as much for Sarah as for me!   The end came when she had an open guard, I didn't respect the grips and she armbarred me with a belly down armbar from there.  It was a pretty sweet armbar and my elbow is still not a fan of being straight because of it.  (totally not blaming her, it was brilliantly done, and she let go as soon as I yelled tap tap tap).

All in all, I am pretty happy with the results and my performance. I've got some things to work on though; dealing with spider guard, breaking grips, not giving my arm away, the ussual.  I am definitely looking forward to an opportunity to compete with Sarah again sometime.  She's got a great guard, and competing against that will make my jiu jitsu better!

Now, more about the competition in general.  It was insanely well organized and well run.  They had the draws up online, with mat number and estimated time.  They also had the order of fights online, that was updated live.  These lists were also available in the pit/corral/warmup area.  They had 2 weighin stations and once past the weigh in station, the section had lines for each mat that you had to wait in while on deck/double deck/and so on.  Having 2 weighin stations and waiting areas makes a HUGE difference in how quickly competitiors can get through and for helping the ring coordinators find the athletes.  I hope more competitions around here pick up on this and impliment it when there is more then 6 rings.

Gi check was SUPER picky.  It was the strictest I have ever seen.  Aparantly, the IBJJF has a new rule about rashguards for women, they can't be long sleeved.  They didn't feel like telling anyone about this before hand, so when I went up for gi check they told me and I was like "ummm I wear long sleeve rashgaurds all the time to IBJJF events", and they were like "Not this one".  They wanted me to just take it off, right there.  I managed to convince them to allow me to just roll the sleeves up, so it seemed like a short sleeve rashguard.  A couple of my friends had the same thing happen.   They were also really strict about the arm baggyness,  pant length, and patch / embroidery placement. I saw a bunch of people with storm pants being sent away because the embroidary on the bottom of the leg was to close to the bottom.

You can see the videos of my matches on my sponsor sweet sweat canada's post about it . Don't worry, it's not spammy and full of pop-ups.

I completely forgot to talk about the absolute!  It was probably 4 hours after my division finished, I was completely out of competition mind set, and the girl I fought was ridiculously good.  I can't say that I did a single good thing in the match lol.  Anna (the girl I fought) ended up placing third.  She was tiny (I think feather or maybe even light feather) and kicked up ass in every aspect.  Seriously, it wasn't pretty.  She won by triangle armbar about 3 minutes in.

Righto.  Enough about me!  Let's talk about my teammates!

Alasdair was the first to compete from team Pura on Wednesday.  His first match he completely dominated the guy with his guard, throwing up a few solid subs before finishing with a super tight triangle.  Alasdair's guard is a thing of beauty, and of terror. I feel bad for anyone who ends up in it.  His second match was a really good war.  He was working to pass a lot, and near the end took a calcuated risk to go for a rolling ninja kimura thing. It would have been amazing if it had worked, but it did not and he lost :(.  I was pretty bummed for him, because I know how hard he trained and how much he put into the competition.  Not saying everyone doesn't train, but man, Alasdair lives Jiu Jitsu and had a tonne of preasure on him (from himself, and from everyone else) to perform.   You can watch Alasdairs matches on the sweet sweat blog here.

 Matt also competed on Wednesday.  He was nursing a pretty bad knee injury that kept him from training the last week or so of their stay in Costa Mesa.  He didn't let that stop him though. After a tough war in his first match that he won on points. He went on to finish the next 3 guys and win the gold!   The second match was pretty sweet, he a sweep he's been working on for a while, straight to the back and finished with a choke.  His third match was much closer, going almost the distance with a score of 2-0, until there was an almost sweep to back where he hit a slick belly down armbar that I really liked.  The final was against the same guy he fought in the final at Montreal a few weeks earlier.  He won with an ankle lock for the gold! Matt's Jiu Jitsu is a thing of beauty. His style is that of a featherweight and it's frightening to see it done in the super heavy division.

Jon competed first thing Thursday, his first match was the 2nd of the day so he wanted to get to the venue really early to check his weight and whatnot.  He competed in featherweight, which is kind of crazy considering he is 6' tall. But he has a tiny frame so it mostly works for him.  Anyway, the venue didn't even open the doors until 8am (with it starting at 9), which I think isn't really early enough.  They gave us a mega hard time about our snacks to, which was annoying and not the thing we needed before fighting.  Oh well.  Jons' first match was excellent. He was working the guard he's been practising lately and hit a sweep with it.  He also didn't give up a sweep easily (which is is proned to do, because he likes playing bottom).  With around a minute left, he ended up down slightly (I think by an advantage, but maybe 2 points) and was playing guard.  We all saw the setup, except for the guy he was fighting, it was pretty awesome. He put the guy to sleep with his signature move.   His second match was really good  too. Again he was working his sit up guard and fighting well. Unfortunately he left his neck undefended going for the sweep and almost took a nap from the loop choke that resulted from the undefended neck.  It was a pretty neat choke and it taught him a pretty good lesson.

3 of my female jiu jitsu friends each won gold in their division.  Man those three are bad ass, Val from Buffalo, Sarah and Emily from Toronto. You guys are all awesome and kick serious ass.  Val won the blue belt light weight division, she had, I believe 4 fights, and was dominant is every single one.  Sarah was in the white belt medium heavy and pretty much destroyed the entire division.  I think maybe 1 match went to points and even that one she was ALL over the girl.  Sarah is an amazing person, but honestly, she kind of scares me hahaha.  Emily won the white belt middle weight class.  I didn't see a lot of her fights, but the ones I did she was showing amazing jiu jitsu.  My other awesome local friend Mandie didn't have quite as golden of a day, she had a super tough fight against the eventual gold medal winner, who subbed the girl before Mandie(who had a bye), subbed the next two, and smashed the girl in the final.  She only beat Mandie on points, and it was a fairly close match.  It sucks when a draw ends up that way, but at least she got a good match out of the deal.  Here's a pic of the five of us, after we were all done competing!

The rest of pans was equally excellent.  The venue was really nice, except for the staff who were doing "security" at the door.  Bag checks every morning that seemed to get stricter and stricter.  No Cupcakes, no bags of candy, no "bulky" food.  Only gatorade and small snacks.  Apparently that was the venue, not the IBJJF, so we can't be mad at the event for that.   The venue layout was great,  vendors outside the "arena" area, with the mats sunken into the floor.  This is a pretty idea setup.  The only down side was that it's a decently long walk from the seating to wear you had to be to weigh in and whatnot.  Not a big deal, but a minor inconvenience.

The food at the venue was amazing as usual, but I must admin the acai bowls were not as good as the ones from worlds last year, and not nearly as good as the ones you can get from bonzai bowls in costa mesa.  They seem to have switched to a "sorbet" which is a pre-mixed bulk made frozen paste thing.  They didn't even blend it so the bowls had less in them to.  The toppings were delish still and they did taste good(I had 5 or 6 between friday-sunday), but the Bonzai bowl I had on sunday morning, for 2 bucks less, was at least double or maybe even triple the size, had way more interesting ingredients and wasn't made with the sorbet.

The other food at the venue was the BBQ.  For the life in me, I can't remember what the place was called, but they are at pans and worlds every year.  They are based our of California and the garlic fries they serve are AMAZING.   They were more garlicy last year, but it might actually be a good thing that it was less garlicy this year. It was borderline to much garlic last year, I wouldn't think that is possible, but it is.  They also obviously sell bbq'ed meat, which was equally, if not more delish then the fries.  I supose there is a reason I'm not even currently in medium heavy right now, just reading these last 2 paragraphs hahaha.  Actually, I pigged out for just over a week after we got home to, so it was a LOT of gluttony since I competed.  I probably have an eating disorder.

Changing Gears...

There's been a lot of talk on the interwebs about all the closeouts that happened in the black belt divisions this year.  5 of the 9 Adult Male black belt divisions were closed out.  I'm not going ot go through them all, they've been covered. But I did want to talk about it a little bit.

Jiu Jitsu is a weird sport,  and there isn't really something with the same structure to comepare it to.  A lot of people online have been saying "You don't see closeouts in Judo". That's because, at the olympics countries qualify 1 spot per division, they don't get the opportunity to create a situation for a closeout to happen.  MMA fighters don't fight training partners all the time. Look at all the drama that came around with Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, at first they didn't want to fight, then one of them did, then they hated each other.

I'm not saying that closeouts are good, they really aren't.  But in some cases, I get it.  If it's your brother, or someone you train every day with, I get not wanting to compete against each other.  In other cases, there shouldn't be closeouts.  If you represent the same team, but don't even train together, you should fight.  If you aren't even on the same team anymore, you should fight.   Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of closeouts when you aren't regular training partners, but if you are, I don't see the issue.  If, by some crazy turn of events, I ended up in a final, at a big tournament, with a team mate, and regular training partner across from me, I think I would close out the division with her.  The odds of this happening are pretty low though, so my opinion is pretty meaningless.

The only good thing about all the closeouts on Sunday night was that it meant we were able to actually watch all the fights (well, the ones that happened), unlike last year at worlds, where we had to miss a few of the finals.  They also did all the medals at the end, instead of after each final, which sped things up nicely as well.  We ended up having enough time to get to the airport, drop off the car, and relax for a bit.  Speaking of the airport LAX's terminal that air canada flies out of is pretty terrible.  There isn't enough seats at any of the gates, and service at the restaurants is abismal.

While Jon and I were in California, we trained twice before the competition. The first time, we hit up an open invitation from Brea Jiu Jitsu to anyone in the area for pans, and the second we visited AOJ for a morning fundamentals class.

Brea Jiu Jitsu is run by TrumpetDan, a brown belt Bruno Paulista. He's a super nice guy and is fairly active on the interweb in the Jiu Jitsu communities.  Jon chatted with him a few times and wanted to take him up on the offer, so we headed to Brea on Monday evening to train with them.  Brea itself is a cool little town with a really nice downtown.  We ended up in the area really early, so we hit up starbucks and enjoyed the atmosphere of their downtown and the lovely california weather. Brea Jiu Jitsu is tucked away in a plaza on "the wrong side of the tracks" as Dan put it.  It's a lovely plaza, but there really isn't much going on in the town once you pass it.  The class was a lot of fun and we had a great time.  It was ridiculously hot and humid in the gym, which killed my cardio a lot worse then I have ever experienced in my life.  Everyone at Brea was really friendly and I got some good rolls in while we were there.

On Tuesday, we hit up the early morning fundamentals class at AOJ.  It's always amazing training at AOJ, and I wish we had had more time to be able to train their before competing.  Unfortunately we both have jobs that limit the time we can get away, so we have to take what we can get.   We worked on pulling x-guard, some drills and some rolling.  It was a really excellent experience and it was nice to be on the mats with Professors Rafa and Gui again.  After we trained, we hit up the laundry mat to wash our gis and then went to the condo Alasdair and Matt were renting while they trained at AOJ the previous 2 weeks.  Once they were all packed up and ready to go we crammed all their crap into my car (these guys do not pack light!) and headed back to our hotel.

Our hotel was pretty excellent, it would have been more excellent if the OJA had paid for 3 full nights like they said they would instead of the 3 nights at a cheap hotel they found weeks after I had booked after asking what they would cover.  But hey, what can ya do?  We stayed at the embassy suites in Irvine. It was the closest hotel on the map that I could find to the venue, and also has free excellent breakfast.  Another bonus about this hotel is that the rooms are really big. They are "two room suites" so there is the bedroom, and then there is a living room area which also has a decent size table, microwave, fridge and a sink.  It's not quite a kitchenette, but hey, it was nice.  The staff was really friendly and didn't even blink when I said we were double charge for internet one night, he just took it off right away.  That is the downside to this hotel, parking and internet were not free.  I did a lot of searching, and trying to find a decent hotel, that had free parking, wifi, and breakfast, in the area, was pretty much impossible.

On Saturday, our friends Rico and Danica (who Jon knows from way way way back before he even met me days) who live in Arizona came out to California to hang out with us, so we dropped the kids off at the venue and went with Rico and Danica to The Getty.  This place was really really cool!   It's a pain to get to in LA traffic, and an even bigger pain to get back form, but it was totally worth it.  It's an art gallery that was built way up in the mountains, that is free, and full of amazing work by serious historical artists.  When Rico suggested it, i was like "ehhh, i guess that could be kind of neat", but it was way better then "kind of neat". A bonus, to how awesome it is, it's also free, except for parking, which was only $15.  If you are in the LA area, I would highly recomend making a trip there.

We ended up back at the venue with Rico and Danica along with us, intime to watch a lot of the blackbelt fights.  There were some good matches, and Rico and Danica are starting to kind of understand Jiu Jitsu now (they were also in California for a day when we were there for worlds and watched some then).  After we got bored of that, we went for dinner to Umami Burger.  Our teammate Steve goes on and on and on about this place so I wanted to make sure we got there this time around.  Boy, am I glad we did.

The service was exceptional, and the food, my goodness, the food was amazing.  You wouldn't expect burgers to be worth going on about, but they were.  All the sauces were amazing, the onion rings were the tastiest I've ever had, the sweet potato fries were delightful.  I had the "Manly Burger" which was cheese, bacon, and some sauces and stuff.  I can't remember exactly, all I remember is how delightful it was.  Everyone loved their food, and no one left hungry.

The prices were pretty reasonable for the quality of the food to. Not mcdonalds cheap, but not insane either. I think it worked out to about 20 bucks if you got a burger and a side. Well worth it in my humble opinion. I will make a point of getting Umami Burger every time I am in California from now on.

I took a tonne of pictures at pans, mostly of AOJ, Atos, and Ontario people, but on Saturday and Sunday I just took pics of random black belts.  It was fun.  Here are the albums of the pics I took. Enjoy!

I think this novel is long enough now,  and since I have a tournament to check out tomorrow, it's about time to wrap this up.   I won't be competing because of my knee, I was hoping it would be well enough, but when it totally crapped out on me demoing a leg drag for the kids class on Wednesday, I had to withdrawl.

See you around!

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