Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lessons and report from the 2010 Mundials...

The Long Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach. Home of the Mundials! Can you believe I didn't even get a picture of the outside? It's blue-- I thought it would be glass, but no.

Here's the view from my seat for the first and third day. (I was on another mat for day two.)

You already know I had a great time. What a sweet gig- get paid for watching jiu jitsu, enough to fly out to California (sunny or no), stay with a dear friend, rent a car for a week and train two days on the end. Plus they feed you. Doesn't get better than that!

Here's my hostesses with the mostestes Heather and her dog Ashes. Heather, one of my best friends from high school, lives about 15 minutes from the Pan and about 20 from the Mundials so I will be enjoying her lovely Craftsman bungalow and her charming company each April and June for years to come :)

The brackets, first day. I'd say I scored 70 matches a day, average. Only 62 on one day; more than 80 on another. Of course blackbelt day was fewer.

Right before things got started, from upstairs where the vendors all set up, where the bathrooms are, and where the snack foodies live, not that I ever ate them. I brought apple slices, baby carrots, and scones for my refs, my ring coordinator, Tony (The Voice of Jiu Jitsu) and anyone else who wanted some. I was on mat 1-- bottom left hand corner. Behind that is the admin table and behind those yellow barricades at the bottom is the bull pen, where competitors get warmed up, IDs checked, weighed in, gis measured, and wait for matches.

I was not as blown away by Mundials mainly because I had a fair idea of what to expect after the Pan. This is not to say the jits wasn't impressive because you have to know it was, beyond a doubt. I was just more ready for it :) I still think my Pan Ams lessons apply at the Mundials, so I won't copy and paste, but here're some refinements.

My thoughts:

1. It's all about the guard. I saw a couple matches that stalled out on the feet, usually really big people or wrestlers. However, the majority of matches went to the ground fairly quickly. If you don't have a good takedown game, you pull guard or jump guard. Many matches especially at the higher levels started with both people RUNNING at each other and simultaneously sliding into home base (pulling halfguard.) From there, you simply CANNOT assume you'll be able to pass. Many, many matches at brown and above were 0-0 and decided on advantage(s) because guards just were impossible to pass. My noob eyes are simply lacking the vocabulary necessary to parse what was going on in some of the higher level matches. I knew peeps were trying for sweeps, but didn't know if the sweeps had names, if the setups were common or freakish one-offs, etc. Nevertheless, it is absolutely safe to say that play at the Mundials level is usually all about the guard.

2. Divide your training time to be 20% takedowns, 80% guard. Don't neglect takedowns! It's the easiest 2 points to get. If you're a top player, make that 80% proportion be about passing and subbing people while you pass. If you're a bottom player, make that about sweeps that follow immediately from the guard pull, or subs while you're being passed. Drill your triangle and armbar defenses and make them chained just like you have offensive series.

3. Gripfighting. Didn't see much of it at the lower levels. It's a big plus.

4. Turtle to avoid the guard pass points going to your opponent.

5. Know a bit of Portuguese and know the arm signals. Sorry, some of the refs don't speak much/any English. "Combach" (sp?) means "Fight" and is rather obvious. "Paro" means stop, as in "You're in someone else's mat space, come back here!" or "Time's up!" And you'll get warned for stalling by the ref tapping one of you and then grabbing his forearms, hands at the elbows if that makes sense. You have about 20 seconds or so to get moving or the staller gets a penalty; the victim gets an advantage. Second warning, the staller gets another penalty and the victim gets 2 points. Lots of people stopped completely when they got the stall signal and acted as if they didn't know what was going on, so I think that's something coaches need to inform their fighters about ahead of time.

6. No one low passes. I still saw mostly standing up in the guard to break guard, or elbows into the thighs, and then knee-through. I did not see low passes, Tozi passes, Wilson passes, etc.

7. Know your color. Ever wonder why the ref makes you switch which side you're standing on, or why you got the green belt? It's gi color, baby, and to make sure the ref gives the points to the right person. The ref's right hand has the green/yellow cuff on and that's the hand I watch for that person's points, advantages etc. The ref's left hand is the white (uncuffed) hand. That's also which side you stand on, at the start and at the end.

Who is which depends on gi color and bracketing. Blue vs white gi, the blue will be green and white is white. Black vs white gi, black is green and white is white. Blue vs black gi, blue is green and black is white. Refs with experience won't even bother with the belt for these matchups. If you're both in the same color gi, I believe the green belt goes to whoever's name is first in the bracket. This is also why IBJJF only allows blue, black and white gis and no mix/matching of pants and top.

Ultimately, you care about this because when you look up at the scoreboard (which you should) you want to know whether you're green or white so you know how you're doing in points.

8. Cross face. This was something I commented on at the Pan and now I get it. Grab the collar when you're postured up so you have arm length and use your forearm to crossface, use your bicep when you're down low.

9. Don't pull guard when they shoot. They'll get the takedown points because likely they're touching your leg.

10. People will stand on your leg, kneel on your face, etc. Be prepared for it and use it to your advantage when you're in a position to do so.

11. Majority of subs were classics (triangle, armbar, choke, kneebar) but it was the setup that set the more advanced people apart.

12. Remember your exact position and grips during a ref stoppage.

13. Know the rules about legal subs. Should go without saying. I still saw people DQ'd for reaping the knee. You can have a leg between their legs with your foot going towards the outside of their hip; you cannot have their leg and cross your foot from the outside to the inside of their hip. Make sense? 50/50 guard is okay; knee reaping, twisting knee locks etc. is NOT.

Now, aside from the "lessons" I took away from things.. my report. I was utterly CRUSHED to be instructed not to publish the video footage I'd been taking. I have some AMAZING matches. *sigh* However, I can tell you what I filmed, and if you ask me for it-- because it's your match, I will get it to you. And thanks to all of you who are sending me footage to show.. I promise I will get that up post haste!

In somewhat chronological order, from my ringside notes, here's the matches I have- sometimes I have weightclasses, sometimes no... I didn't always have a great note-taking system for my personal stuff since my attention and time was fully devoted to scoring matches and my personal notes only got scribbled in the downtime. Likewise the still photos only happened when a friend hanging out with me would grab my camera and snap a pic, except for blackbelt day when I actually took two-three pictures of the surroundings, the celebrations etc.

Day one: I wish I'd taped some, but I didn't. Thus you're missing out on the pena and leve blue belt female matches. Mackenzie Dern, Megaton's daughter, age 17, beat Jen Turner in the pena finals with a belly down armbar at 1:22. She has a super fast guard sit! Mackenzie got her purple on the podium but returned to fight (and win, I think) in the blue belt absolute the next day. And in blue belt female, leve class, 14 year old Dominyka Obelenyte defeated Erikka Flom in finals, 3-0.

Day two:

2 of Tracey Goodell, Lloyd Irvin-- she stormed the purple belt leve division. Here she is waiting for (I believe) her first match, just two weeks after being promoted from blue belt.

Alaina Hardie v Jen Whitcomb- quite the fierce match between two friends from GrappleCamp. Alaina won with a tough choke.

Purple belt, heavy weight: Cecilia Minshall (Team Renzo) v. Nellie Cavin (Gracie Barra). 3 person division, Cecilia and Nellie fought twice. Nellie won first match, 0-0, ref decision. Cecilia won their second matchup on points, 8-2, for the gold medal.

Middle weight purple finals- Alaina Hardie v. Kay Stephenson. Kay won with a bellydown armbar at 1:39.

Purple, leve? Travis Orr v. Medina-- Orr wins by triangle after being rudely thrown twice.

A match I think between Ronis Gracie, purple, Gracie Barra, and a black gi from Checkmat.

Ronis waiting for his match..

Ronis Gracie v. Faria(s) (sp?) Ronis won 2-0.

Jaxon Smith, purple from Machado in Redondo Beach, v. Roh, Jaxon by bow & arrow choke at 2:22.

Jaxon Smith v. Ronis Gracie. Gracie wins, 6-2.

Purple middle finals, Alec Baulding (Alliance) v. someone I can't read my notes. When I process that video I'll see if I can edit this with the correct name.

From day three, blacks and browns:

T. Hirata v. Felipe Costa-- Costa by armbar, I think. Again notes unclear.

A short clip of a random match with a very cool judo armbar, with both legs crossed over the arm you're barring (their near arm) and ankles are crossed right under their jaw. He didn't get the tap with this, but it was cool to look at and toy with.

Hillary Williams v. Weatherford, Hillary for the win.

Tove Soderston, who won the Pan I'm told, v. Fernanda Mazelli. Mazelli FTW.

Siyaka Shioda v. Bruna Ribeiro, kneebar by Shioda at :45, with Roger Gracie in the background.

Shioda v Kyra Gracie, who won on points 10-0. Here's Kyra going for an armbar, defended by Siyaka.

Luanna Alzuguir v. Penny Thomas, Luanna by choke. Here's Penny battling valiantly to pass Luanna's guard. On the video, this is EPIC WAR.

Fernanda Mazelli v. Michelle Nicolini, Michelle with the triangle-armbar in 2 minutes.

Hillary Williams v. Kyra Gracie, Kyra with the choke at 4:56.

Finals of the black belt weight class (galo? pluma?) T. Hirata v. Nazimiento (sp?) from Paragon, Nazimiento wins 13-4. I think this is a photo of them with Hirata on top. Let me know if I'm wrong. I think there's a mistake here, maybe this isn't finals but is absolute... or maybe I was mistaken about who prevailed in Hirata v. Costa.

Luanna v. Michelle, Luanna wins 10-2. Here's Michelle working the pass, shortly before Luanna scissor-sweeps her.

Beatriz "Bia" Mesquita v. Gaby Garcia, of course Garcia wins. This was on another mat so I don't know if a submission or by points, but my guess would be submission, americana from side control. Just a guess ;)

I didn't tape the match but here's Tammy Griego, Gracie Barra Albuquerque, and Bia after their match. Don't know who won.

Rhalan Gracie v. Armburst, Gracie for the win but I didn't write down how.

Kyra v. Luanna, Luanna wins 5-0.

Ian McPherson, brown belt phenom, v. Rhalan Gracie, with Ian winning 4-2.

Alec Baulding, Alliance's purple belt magician, chokes Bruno Pucci.

Karen Miller gets choked by Luanna at 1:56.

Val "Valhalla" Worthington v. Penny, who wins by choke, seen here..

Michelle v. Fernanda, with Michelle winning by toehold at :52.

Luiza Monteiro v. Penny, who won with a choke from mount.

Cobrinha v. Yokinori, with Cobrinha FTW 18-0. In the background you see Tracey Goodell v. Kay Stephenson, with Tracey pulling off a triangle. I think this was either semifinals or maybe just a division match.

Here's Cobrinha against someone, don't know who.

Ronis Gracie falls to Alec Baulding, didn't note how.

Fereira v. Clark Gracie, who won by choke.

Alves v. Marcelo Garcia, who wins by choke.

Carlquist v. Abmar Barbosa, who wins by mounted triangle in 1:27.

A Gracie kneebars Mendes but I didn't write whether it was Rafa or Guilherme, whether it was Kron or Clark or who.

Santana chokes Abmar Barbosa. In the background, you see the purple belt female absolute finals, Jacqueline Oliveira (Alliance) loses to Tracey Goodell by triangle.

Marcelo beats Mendes by Monson choke at 4:37. As a side note: damn I wish I had a better Monson choke.

Roger Gracie v. Luiz Fernando (I think) in semifinals. Shocker, Roger chokes him.

Day four-- da da DA- the blackbelt day:

Even though you've been through 4 days of the Pan and 3 days of Mundials, nothing quite prepares you for the absolute intensity of team spirit displayed on Sunday. Sorry, sometimes it was overboard, reminding me of high school antics, but whatever, I get that this is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

I did get to hang out a little while with Dustin from Kauai Kimonos and he showed me the custom gis they made for Felipe Costa. Way cool!

Sounds like the nylon ripstop gi is making its way through the IBJJF approval process. I'm going to review that gi SOON, I promise, but for now I can't say enough nice stuff about it especially in hot humid weather, for travel, and for facilitating hip movement. Eek, sorry, that sounds like a review.

Barra, Humaita, and Alliance all set up camp in a different section of the bleachers, wearing their special Mundials tshirts made for the occasion, waving banners, chanting and singing and generally lacking only short skirts and pompoms. This is the Alliance section. Sorry for the camera movement in the middle.

Another teensy little 2 second clip of someone celebrating, don't even remember who.

Here's Humaita's section before things got really going.

The IBJJF does a good job of running this tournament. On Sunday, there's only two mats set up, with mirror-image/linked scoreboards facing both sides of the mat to make it easy to spectate-- no matter where you sit, you can see the score, time left etc. for both matches. And I hear Budovideos did a better job of giving the women airtime- is that your opinion? I'm interested!

I only know of one screwup in terms of brackets etc. but it was a competitor error, not admin error. Two guys had had their IDs checked and were waiting to compete near some other waiting competitors. Apparently they didn't speak English. Why that matters I don't know, because when names were called, they answered to them-- even though THAT WASN'T THEIR NAME. So an Asian name was called-- Asian guy answers. Hispanic name called, Hispanic guy answers. Asian fights Hispanic and then we discover oops, they weren't supposed to fight each other. Easy mistake to make for the staff side, everyone starts to look alike, and you never expect someone to answer to the WRONG NAME! It was resolved quickly and no one was mad, but we all had a mini coronary, of course.

On Sunday, I was sooo excited by watching, and sooooooooooo nervous about making a mistake, that I just left the camera alone for the most part on blackbelt day. I had it running some, but without much input from me in terms of on, off, aiming, zooming, etc. I just didn't want even the appearance that I was distracted.

I did catch Rafa Mendes defeating Ryan Hall... Lucas Lepri v. Augusto Mendes (don't recall who won).. Cobrinha v. "Crazy" Mario Reis...

But most of the time I was just too busy and too intent on watching to mess with recording. Most of that jiu jitsu was over my head anyways, except for the finishes. I will say that, if you're going to compete at the brown or black belt level (and prolly purple, too) you better have an answer to the 50/50 guard, which I saw a LOT of.

At the very end, here's Roger, celebrating his absolute victory, bittersweet as Romulo Barral was unable to contest the finals due to his knee injury from semifinals..

After four days of sitting still watching all this you already know I was chomping at the bit to go train. And I did, at New Breed. I meant to get pictures with Val and John and Johnny and everyone there, but really it just doesn't occur to you to grab the camera when you're sopping wet and exhausted. No matter how happy being that way makes you :) So I just have this one photo, grabbed as I was leaving on Tuesday to catch my plane. That's Val in the way-back background choking someone from the back.

What a fantastic experience. I got to meet lots of people face to face for the first time, like Leoni from the UK, and Felicia Oh, and Alaina Hardie, and others I just know by their forum names, like NinjaBoy. I'm just starting to get the footage rendered from all those fights-- I have about 5 hours solid of film! Let me know if you have footage for me to share, or if I have your footage and you want it.

Can't wait for next year.


Kopi Luwak said...

Nice pictures. That place looks very sweet :).

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! great photos.