Monday, 22 October 2012

IBJJF comes to the UK

Hello again.

So, this weekend was a freakin' busy one in the world of BJJ with the IBJJF London Open, Miami Open, and European Nogi all taking part over the same weekend. This was the first ever European Nogi, and only the second ever London Open to be held in the UK, so I was keen to get involved with any event with the prestige of the IBJJF. 

I competed at the European Nogi (my second ever Nogi comp after I competed at Grapplers Quest in Coral Springs last year).

My buddy Seymour designed an UH-mazing "SHE-BEAST" logo, which Scramble plastered over one of their new ranked rashguards and handed over to me to wear. Look how freakin' badass it is..


So I got to wear that bad boy to the European Nogi. I'm so grateful to Scramble and Meerkatsu for teaming up to produce this. It just shows the support for womens BJJ in the UK, when a top UK brand makes a custom designed rash guard for a girl (and a measly blue belt at that!). Very thankful indeed. Cheers guys :)

Enough of that. Back to the competition. 

No videos, sorry. You'll to read through my blabbling instead.

In my division there were only 3 of us. One girl didn't make weight, which left me with one fight to get gold. Now, I'd done my research. By research, I mean some casual facebook stalking/ googling (oh shut up, you totally do it too). The girl I was left with was a 4 tab blue, and she'd medalled at the European Gi last year. Eeeexcellent. You've gotta fight tough girls to get better..

I lost by 2 advantages. It was a disappointing fight, as I got caught in her guard, gave away 2 advantages when trying to do a standing guard break (but fell on my butt and jumped back up before she could get points for a sweep). I did that twice, thus, 2 advantages to her. We were brought back to our feet, and knowing I was 2 advantages down, I pulled guard (WHY?!). No, I take that back. I've been working my ass off when it comes to my guard, and I felt much more comfortable pulling guard at this competition. I managed to almost pull off a deep half sweep, and a flower sweep, but one sweep went out of the matted area, so no points. Sad times.

My biggest fear was getting caught in a closed guard. I'm used to gripping up and standing to pass in the gi. So, all in all, I was happy with the fight. I didn't get my posture broken, and I neutralised her trying to escape her hips or grip my arms. I didn't feel in any real danger. So, a loss, but a good one. If that makes sense. Every cloud, n'all that..

My face in this picture summarizes my feelings regarding this fight..

So I got a silver. A shiny, default, silver.

Sexiest default medal, ever.

Being the keen bean I am, I tottled over and registered for the absolute (I'd paid £60 to fight, and I was going to get my moneys worth!)

Now a little recap; I'd had a 6 hour coach journey from Paignton to London to get there. I left at 00:01 Sunday morning, got there at 6:20, and in that time I got about 2 hours sleep. I was running on adrenaline for the first fight, but come 2/3pm I was a dyyyyyying, and the absolute was due to start at 4:40. I really wasn't feeling up for it, but I figured I might as well give it a go (..such positivity).

There were 9 of us in the absolute (I think). I had 3 fights, (won 2, lost 1) which meant I had earned myself another silver.

A quick breakdown:

Fight first

The first 2 girls I fought had got gold and silver in their weight divisions (light and middle). First up was a middleweight girl. I've discovered that my wrestling is chronically bad. I knew it was, but standing in front of an angry looking Eastern European chick was the moment I really realised my wrestling chronically bad. After attempting a couple of pitiful single legs, she pulled guard. Luckily, I managed to get my knee up so her guard popped open as soon as she hit the ground. I got double unders, passed, knee on belly, and then mount.

I was working for an americana but she rolled to her side so I switched for an armbar (something I previously wouldn't do, for fear of not submitting, and ending up on my back). She was very quick to stack me up, so she ended up in my closed guard. My favoured hip bump sweep saved the day, and I got mount again. She got out of mount, and sat back for a footlock. Holy hell, a footlock. I mess about with them at training, but thought "nnnnnnnoooooooooooooooo!" and grabbed her head so she couldn't sit back. The joys of nogi meant I could wriggle my sweaty little foot out without too much trouble. I didn't rack up points for giggles- I wanted to win! I followed her up and  ended up in side control when the bell went. First fight won, 13-0.

Second fight

This time I was up against the girl who won gold in the lightweight. I'd seen her submit her first opponent in the absolute in literally seconds. Game on.

I tried to work my stand up more, going for some arm drags that I'd been working on at training. Unfortunately the girl had obviously been working the same technique. There were moments when we looked at each other in a "heyy, that's what I'm trying to do" kind of fashion. She got bored quicker than I did and pulled guard. I got my knee up again (WINNER!). Knee slice pass, and I was in side control. I swear to god, I have never been so frustrated trying to keep someone in side control. She wouldn't stop wriggling. For a lightweight, she was ridiculously strong, and she managed to get to her knees and grab my leg to try and drive me over a couple of times.

I managed to sprawl and get her back on her back. Well, I thought I had, but a quick glimpse at the score board and somehow I was down by one advantage (that she must have got for grabbing my leg? She was nowhere near putting me on my back though, so..?). I thought, there's no way I'm losing this fight when I've spent about 3/4 minutes moving from side to north mount, so I gave her some shoulder pressure of doom to try and keep her still long enough for me to get points for a pass. I got there in the end! She managed to regain, but luckily I pulled off my jumping guard break, and passed again. She didn't stay still long enough for me to attempt any subs, but a second win 6-0 (0-1 adv).

The final

I faced off against the girl who beat me in my division again for the final of the absolute. I had planned this scenario in my head. I was going to pull guard, in the hope of sweeping to get on top, and to avoid getting stuck in her guard again. Unfortunately, I'm freakin' slow, so she pulled guard super fast. Great. Stuck in closed guard. 

I didn't really know what was best. I conversed with myself in my head whilst posturing and stopping her from trying to isolate an arm. Being such a close fight last time around, I was hesitant to go for a jumping guard break in case she got an advantage again, and that was all she needed to beat me in the first fight. I figured I'd trying to get double unders instead. In my infinite wisdom, I put one arm under first. I'm an embarrassment  I know. The other hand was just a teeeny tiny bit slower than the first, but she grabbed my arm and went to wrench on an armbar. I managed to slip my elbow back past her hips, and put enough pressure on to quickly snatch my arm back. One advantage to her. Bollocks. That didn't work. The remainder of the fight I half heatedly attempted my jumping guard break, but never fully committed incase I got swept. In the dying seconds I got underhooks, but she made her hips heavy and I could get my hands to meet, to stack her up. I lost (0-1 adv). In a weird way, I felt like it was a good loss. I felt fairly safe (apart from the armbar moment..) sat in her guard. I left knowing what I need to work on, which is what it's all about..

This is not the best position to attempt to obtain double unders from. Fact.


The level of jiu jitsu from the girls at this competition was insane. I hadn't seen anything like it before. Within the first 10/15mins of watching the girls fight, I'd seen chicks pulling off flying armbars and another girl choke a girl out cold with a deep darce. I know it wasn't cheap to enter, but it was a totally different pool of girls to fight (I was one of a handful of British girls in the blue belt division) and it because of the title of "European Championships" it had attracted some tough girls who have medalled at bigger comps in their home countries. In previous years, I've fought the same girl 5 times in the same year at smaller UK competitions. Not that there is anything wrong with the smaller competitions (they're much cheaper, and run fantastically well) but if you're fed up of fighting the same girls/no girls/being shoved into an absolute because there are ZERO girls, then I reckon it's worth missing out on 1 or 2 smaller ones, and saving your pennies for something like an IBJJF one. I was skeptical at first, but after competing, I'll definitely be doing this and The London Open next year.

Another thing..

Living so far away from London, it's a massive deal trying to get a team up to an event. I went alone, and the day before my buddy Sam traveled alone to the London Open. He lost his first fight, but was positive about the experience and enjoyed it nevertheless. It's very strange not having your team there at an event.  I was lucky enough to have the awesome guys from Mill Hill and Matt from scramble cheer me on, as well as Seymour taking some pictures, but Sam was totally alone in a stacked blue belt division. Sam's a beast, and I know that he'll continue to smash at any other comps he does this year. So well done dude :)

I mentioned that the Miami Open was on this weekend too. Congrats to the Avengers and Avengers girls who I trained out in Miami with, especially Amie, Pereira, Ricardinho, Frans, Mestre Deninho and of course, Mestre Cyborg (and anybody else I forgot!) Oss, fightsports familia :)

Special thanks and well done to:

The guys from Mill Hill who competed and cheered me on- Chris, Dan, James, Windsock, Jack, all the Andys' and Nick Brooks (who I saw very briefly) Win or lose, you all put on an awesome performance guys!

Scramble Matt- for cheering me on and being awesome

Seymour- for favouring me in your picture taking duties, and being awesome.

I can't be bothered to spell check this. The End.