Sunday, May 10, 2009

Forgot my chokin' paws at home...

... but I brought my tappin' paws to NAGA and it's a good thing too.

Overall a good weekend and a good experience. I can say without a doubt that competition tests you mentally more than it does physically. I was questionable physically (in that I am a new blue) and questionable mentally (I tried to be very positive, but wasn't as confident as I was last year in the whitebelt division.) Plus, there's the boredom and fatigue that comes from being on edge for hours, and hours, of waiting. Ultimately, I went into my matches having confidence, but within the first minute or so it seems I assessed their skills and somewhat decided/felt/both that I was outclassed. My killer instinct went AWOL. I still tried, but I was more reserved than I should have been.

Spent Friday morning uncharacteristically eating breakfast and it was a bad-for-me breakfast too... biscuit, sausage and hashbrowns. Then picked up my green gi (had to get patches sewn on to honor my sponsor Badgerland Jiu Jitsu) and went to the gym to atone, where I did some elliptical and about 40 min in the 150 degree sauna. Didn't lose a pound and the gym scale said with clothing I was 135. Blech. Mitch drove, stopping at West TX's Little Czech Bakery on the way. Blech again-- they had yummy smelling treats and I was really, really thirsty. He ate two sausage kolaches right under my nose and drank all kinds of water. Did I mention I was thirsty?

Arrived around 6pm at the hotel in Dallas for weighin. Imagine a hotel lobby full of inked, pierced, tough-looking guys wearing shirts advertising fighting systems, MMA gear etc.... and sharing that space? The "Ultimate Dream Queen" little-girl beauty pageant!!!! Yes, scary, and I was more scared of the pageant moms than any heavyweight in the place (and yes, some of those moms weighed more than the heavyweights.) The ride up to the mezzanine level where weigh-ins took place was hilarious-- elevators full of soccer-mom, Junior-Leaguey-looking ladies nervously clutching excessively made-up toddlers and little girls away from the big meanies... heehee!

Anyway, fortunately for me, weighin was fine. I promptly guzzled half a gallon of Crystal Light before exultantly leaving the building, mentally pumping myself up about the day to come. We spent the night with friends Kent and Amie. Kent is a purple under Relson; he runs the school in Terrell, TX and I've been friends with him and his wife since before I even got into jiu jitsu. Anyway, they cooked up a gourmet meal for us, with steak, baked potatoes, salad and all the trimmings.

I was even tucked into bed with a copy of Dave Camarillo's "Guerilla Jiu Jitsu" (it was great, so I stayed up an extra hour reading...)

After a luxurious breakfast at B&B Kent and Amie's, we headed to Kent's school where I rolled for 45 minutes to warm up. I might as well not have bothered because it would be a solid 8+ hours before I was called onto the mats for my first match.

NAGA Texas is a HUGE tournament and this event was no exception; there were over 1400 competitors and 14 mats running continuously were insufficient. The rules meeting was at 10am; kids' matches started around 10:30. Adult matches started around 2:30 on one, perhaps two mats. Ring 1 was mine-- kids', teens', then womens' divisions-- and we started womens' novice nogi around 2:30-3pm. Then they had to back up, put more kids on the mats (they wanted all kids off the mats and finished before adults got in there) from other rings, and generally delayed the remaining womens' nogi and gi until about 5pm.

I happened to ask the right NAGA staff member a question at the right time and lucked into learning how to bracket, then I made myself useful by bracketing all the womens' divisions. Thus I knew ahead of time that I was only one of two chicks in womens' lightweight intermediate nogi. Phew. The impressive thing to me was how many masters' women there were-- virtually all in novice/beginners (nogi) and whitebelt (gi). We had something like 20-25 women in all 3 of the lightweight whitebelt-type divisions, gi or nogi. Then 2 lightweight intermediates (nogi) and 4 lightweight bluebelts (gi)... then again 4 lightweight expert/purples.

I did film some girls' and womens' matches for a womens' grappling website I'm a fan of called AthenaMedusa. But the majority of time I was just waiting, waiting, waiting. It is the most stressful and tiring part of competing, in my opinion. You're thinking the whole time and there is no relaxation. I developed a migraine headache around 3pm and the medication I took made me feel sleepy and hot, and my neck muscles were incredibly tense.

Here's some pictures my husband took of our friends Jason (shirtless) and Rudy during their first match:

Here's the heelhook that Jason tapped to... I think the foot crossing in front of the hip thing is DQ-able in IBJJF not in NAGA.

My plan was "pass-mount-submit"-- I had two or three takedowns in mind as possibilities but otherwise I was loosey-goosey.

Here's my recall. Nogi, I think I started around 6-6:30pm, we fought for the takedown about a minute; she pulled guard whilereaping my foot; I tried to pass her open/scissor guard, lost base, she stood up and mounted me like I was one of those rocking horse rides at the front of Walmart! I fought from bottom halfguard for a while, keeping on catching half and then getting mounted and then escaping again. I finally reversed and came up in closed guard, then stuck my head out like an inquisitive turtle and got guillotined in her guard. She did a great job and I was happy to have it over-- I knew from the start that she was way better than me.  Thus I brought home the silver but I won't call it "winning."

This is me, and Kelmy Jasso, the winner of nogi.

I did get some compliments on my Fightergirls shorts. That zebra stuff on the side is fur-- yeah, baby, fur.

Unfortunately they were a little more lowrider than I expected, resulting in the display of my underwear.  Next time, boy shorts underneath.

My migraine started returning around 7pm and I really wanted to bail and go home, but I resisted temptation. Fought Kelmy again in my first gi match.  I know I defended her takedowns and felt a little more comfortable though she was still wicked strong and still way better than me. At one point I had her in my open guard and was working Relson's sweep #1, I think? but didn't catch it. Eventually I ended up mounted with her working on my right arm for an americana. I had a firm grip on my belt, but she got my hand loose, and eventually I tapped to a straight arm bar. After that match, I found out she's been training for SIX YEARS. So I felt a little better :)

Then I had to fight one more time-- Angela King pulled guard almost instantly, and the rest of the match was slow attrition against her guard. She was also strong and very technical so I really need to step up my training. Eventually she tried for a sweep and an armbar and a triangle and with the match over at 0-0, she won for being more aggressive. My last match was over around 9:45pm, but there were still matches going on every mat as we left.

Here's me as we were walking out of the building, with all the matches still going on behind me. Note the green gi pants (which got lots of comments) and the fabulous rashguard.

I was the last Relson person competing and was so incredibly grateful to Kent and Dee, the brown belt who runs our school in Tyler, for sticking it out to corner me and the rest of us so kindly. Even some students from the Terrell school stayed around till I was done, which made me really feel part of a family.

Our other peeps did well. We had some medals, one nap (on an opponent) and one nap (from an opponent), and no major injuries!  All in all a good time except for the ungodly wait.

When the adrenaline wore off I slept half the 3.5 hr ride back to Austin thanks to my awesome hubby who drove.

Got up this morning and proceeded to eat some really bad-for-me foods. Belgian waffle, sausage, honey oat bran muffin with butter, and the token grapefruit juice...

... then dinner with friends was chicken fajita nachos with guacamole, chips, a strawberry frozen margarita, and chipotle chocolate cake. Now I feel like bloated roadkill and wonder why I did that to myself. (In consolation, I won a Lucky gi on ebay for a ridiculously low price, so I'm still happy.)

I need to watch my footage and come up with a list of stuff to work on. Next time hopefully will be easier-- I won't go in so scaredy and uncertain. I am guessing I might not compete again for a few months or more, but when I do, I will do better.

Thanks all for your support and encouragement!


Unknown said...

Man that first photo of me is already my Facebook profile pic. I'm jealous of Mitch's sweet camera gear & good snappin' eye. Looking forward to more :)

Meerkatsu said...

Great report, well done. You win just for turning up on the mat. BTW, I know the US is big, but 1400competitors!!!! Wow!

Anonymous said...

It's me...the girl you gave your blog address to so I could look up the wicked awesome shorts you were rockin! Congrats on getting a medal! I'm sure I'll see you around next tournament...sure wish they'd make it a 2 day deal. That was brutal waiting around all day. :-)

Elyse said...

I wore my green gi at a comp this weekend too! (Copa Nova in VA)
Can we have a superhero team name or something?

Wm Blaker, printer said...

This is why I like Pan Ams and Worlds. They tend to be on schedule. But you take what you can get. NAGA is generally pretty good but long waits are uncommon.

Getting matched up with people a lot more experienced or heavier is not uncommon too.

Like the other poster said, "you win just for turning up on the mat." Very few compete, and getting an early promotion to blue just shoved you into a much tougher gene pool. It will take more than a few years before you reach the top of the blue belt gene pool, simply because the leap to purple is such a big and often delayed one.

Meerkatsu said...

'Gene pool' awesome analogy.
Learning BJJ is very much an evolution. Survival of the fittest; discard unwanted or unnecessary, diversity over monoculture etc etc. Hmmm, an idea for a new blog post methinks...