Sunday, 7 September 2014

Did you miss me?

warning: a lot of feels and semi personal shit. If you just want to read about what my plan of attack is, skip to here.

Did you miss me? Just kidding, I know you didn't.   I missed me though.  It's been a long time since I wrote a post,  mostly because it's been a long time since I felt like writing about anything.  There have been some great tournaments, that I should have wrote about, like the Ontario Open and IBJJF Toronto Open, both of which were amazing.  The Ontario Open was huge, ran great, had great matches and solid refereeing.  The Toronto Open had more black belt matches in one tournament that I have ever seen in Ontario!  It ran really well, had great medals, had great competition and was a very typical IBJJF event(they even posted the spectator fee on the website ;)).

But I didn't,  because I've been to bummed, sad, angry, disappointed, pissed off, and generally just negatively feeling towards jiu jitsu because of how the ontario open went down, for me(not anything to do with the tournament itself, just me).   I've been on a pretty bad downward spiral since then,  I almost climbed out of it a few times, but never really did and when I failed to climb out, it went worse in a hurry.

So, what happened at the Ontario open?  Leading up to it, I was in a really weird place mentally, ussually I am super excitied about tournaments.  I can't wait to compete.  I look forward to them for weeks and sometimes months(though, usually I don't go months without competing).  I didn't feel anything for the tournament. I wasn't looking forward to it, I wasn't nervous, I just wasn't there.  Then, the week before,  my shoulder started feeling weird,  not bad,just weird.  But I competed anyway, because that's what I do.  It's what I expect myself to do, and it's what everyone else expects me to do.  Even the night before, packing my gi bag, I was just going through the motions and ussually it's a kind of focusing and ritual thing for me that gets me right into the competition mindset and everything.

My game plan was to coast through my weight class, and focus on the absolute, so I fought in heavy, instead of medium heavy, b/c there was less people.  I didn't give a rats ass about the weight class matches, I only cared about the absolute.  I didn't lay down and die or anything, but  had no killer instinct, didn't really do a lot of jiu jitsu and even then, my body just fell apart.  The first problem was my knee and the second was my shoulder. I could do anything with my right knee: I couldn't bridge, couldn't keep my dlr hook, couldn't use it to keep the distance on the other dlr side, couldn't reguard, it was useless.

My shoulder quickly jumped on the "Let's abandon Patricia"  bandwagon too.  My brain said "make a frame", "pull", "push", "drag", "do anything other then hurt for fucks sake" and all my shoulder would do is... nothing.  It was useless,  I'd have been better off with no arm, because then at least it wouldn't have been such a liability.

I lost 2 matches in my weight class, and then got smashed in the absolute again.  It was an awe inspiring train wreck.  It wasn't the losing that got to me though,  yea, losing sucks, but I lose all the time, it's part of the game.   It was the fact that my body completely and mercilessly let me down when I needed it the most.

Now, I just have to clarify something, b/c this may just sound like i'm making a whole bunch of excuses for getting the shit kicked out of me.  I know,  if i didn't know what my body did, this would just look like "whaaa whaaa Patricia lost and is making excuses".  I get it.  But a bunch of ppl have asked me about it, so I'm telling you what's up.  Would I have lost if my body hadn't shit the bed?  Who knows,  probably,  Before the Ontario Open Sissi and I were even on wins, with her having the more recent ones.  Alison and I, well, I think she's up to at least 12, maybe more wins against me with at least1/2 by sub and I have never beat her. Caitlin and I have only fought twice before, once in a very casual zombie house, and once at provincials where I squeaked out a close win.   So, in all honesty I likely would have lost and it wouldn't have affected me in nearly the same way.  Whatever, I don't think i'm really making any sense, but All I really want to make clear is, I am not trying to take away anything from the wins of those ladies, they are awesome, and are super good at jiu jitsu and  would have won even if my body had cooperated.   What got me so down wasn't the loss, it was that my body let me down.   Alright, enough rambling about that.

So, after all that, I took a week or two to let my stupid body rest, cos it was a mess, and I tried some physio and blah blah blah.  I started training again and it was all feeling ok, and then just as I was feeling like I could take it up a notch and think about competing, BAM  knee craps out again training.  and the cycle starts over, then BAM   shoulder almost dislocates itself while doing an arm drag and I'm out again.  rest, feel good, feel bad, repeat.   Every time something (either knee or shoulder, or, something my "good" knee) went wrong, I'd make a vow to myself to not let myself get to messed up about it and not let my diet slip, and every time, after a week or so I'd fail.  So every time I got back to the upswing, I'd be starting a bit further back weight wise.

Now, I'm fat.  Like, 5lbs off of being the fattest I've ever been.  It's terrible.  I could blame the week in Mexico at the all inclusive, or how much I like to have pie for lunch when I'm camping, but honestly, It's just that I am an emotional eater, and when I get depressed I eat.  Even when I'm in a good place mentally, and training is going well, I struggle with my relationship with food.   I know
all the tricks and have successfully undone this kind of damage before. But the older I get, the harder it is.  I know what works for me, and what doesn't and I know exactly what I have to do.  Doing it, again, is going to be a struggle, but with realistic goals, and plans, I will compete in medium heavy again, it won't be the next time I complete,  I don't have time for that. I know weightloss isn't something that the hare wins the race of.  I also know I'm getting old,  I'm realistic, If I wait until my weight is perfect, and my body is 100% and the stars are all aligned and everything is just right to compete, it will never happen again.  So, I'm going to do what I can, with what I've got.


The Plan

The IBJJF Masters Worlds(From here on in know as "Old Man Worlds") is in 8 weeks.   Ever since I started competing in Jiu Jitsu I have aimed to compete at the worlds.  I know the masters worlds isn't quite the same, don't get me wrong, When I win a medal there, I will be very specific about where that medal came from.  I'm not delusional, I know the difference between winning a purple belt masters medal and a black belt adult medal. That being said,  at last years pans, some of the masters womens divisions were actually LARGER then the adult (or at least the same size when I checked, whatever) and a lot of masters women have mom strength, which is a scary scary thing.  Anyway, this blog isn't about masters vs adults and all that drama.  It's about me, wanting to compete again.  The first time I was supposed to compete at the worlds I ended up a really bad shoulder injury 3 weeks before that I had every intention of competing with anyway, but then didn't b/c I couldn't put my gi a few days before.  Anyway, this past year was more of the same, but at least I didn't have the flights and hotel and everything booked already.  So, that's my goal.  To whip my fat, lazy, emotionally unstable self into all kinds of shape and compete at the old man worlds. Which I can do, because, I'm old.

I don't have a plan for the weight class, Chances are it will be super heavy. Yea, I'm that fat.  I might make heavy, if my body decides to be nice, but honestly,  it's NEVER EVER EVER played along, it is my greatest enemy. Weight is secondary,  getting back to the competition tatami is primary.

So, to get there, I'm taking a (shorter) page from my teamate stephen's book and going 50 days of doing something fitnessy.  That will bring me up to a couple days before the tournament, by which time I'll need a rest day or two to recover and travelling and whatever.  This starts tomorrow.  Things that I shall be doing:  Jiu Jitsu(aiming for 8+ hours a week), kettlebell circuits (aiming for 2x a week), and probably some kind of cardio, cos mine sucks right now. I know, I know, the best cardio for jiu jitsu is more jiu jitsu, but there isn't always jiu jitsu available when I have time to do this shit, so HIIT will have to supplement a bit.

I know 8 weeks is not a very long time to go from 0 to competition, but, it's what I've got, and, barring any unforseen bumps along the way, it will be enough.

It's not a complicated plan, it's barely a plan at all.  But it's something, and I've written it down, So It's going to happen.  If, for some reason(finances, work, whatever), I can't make it to California,  I shall continue with this plan until I return home to the competition mats where I belong.


Righto, that's enough feels for one day.  I feel like I was missing some emo stuff in the middle and begining, but whatever.  I promise to not write another blog post with so much of that kind of crap for a long time.

Upcoming Events!
I really did miss writing these bits, I donno if anyone even reads them, or if they help people out at all.  If you read these and they help you, let me know.

Saturday and Sunday Sept 13th and 14th:  Professor Rafa Mendes at Pura and Ouroboros.  4x  Black Belt world Champion Rafael Mendes returns to ontario for 2 seminars.  Saturday at pura is sold out, Sunday at Ouroboros has 3 spots left.  You can register online at the link right up there.

Saturday Sept 13th: The GTA Classic I love this tournament.  2 years ago I won my very first samuri sword here!   It's got a great atmosphere, is gi only, and has great prizes for the absolutes!  Also, it's a great way to kick off the tournament season.  Registration closes on Tuesday night, so get on it ASAP. (PS don't let the competitor list fool you, everyone is like you and waiting till the last minute, b/c they like to make the organizers sweat a little).

Saturday Oct 4th Grappling Industries Toronto:  IBJJF Rules and Round Robin. They've recently added more weight classes for masters and women, so it should be a solid event.  This has been on their schedule since early 2014.

Saturday Oct 4th  The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu - Canada Pro JJ Championship  Aka the Montreal Pro trials.  They've re-named it, taken away more then 1/2 the women's trips, and moved from Feb to Oct, but it's still not a competition to be missed if you are serious about jiu jitsu.

Nov 1st and 2nd World Masters IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship aka Old Man Worlds.  Ok, this isn't local, but it shall be the location of my glorious return "home" to competition. So it's being included.

Saturday Nov 1st: Grappling Industries Montreal  These events are solid and a great way to get lots of matches because of the round robin format.

Saturday Nov 22nd IBJJF Montreal.  Not to much info on this one yet, no registration page or anything, but it's always a solid event.

Saturday Nov 22nd  Grappling Industries Toronto:  I don't have much info on this yet either, but it's been on the schedule since like January.

There are a few others on my calendar that I haven't heard anything official for yet so once I do, I'll add them to the next post.

SEE YOU IN THE MATS SOON!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

IBJJF Worlds / Mundials Local Competitors Preview

Hey Everyone!

Long time no see!  I've been... away from my blog for a while, I've missed you.  I got a bit board of the same old same old, and a bit addicted to this little computer game called diablo.  Mix that with being in a pretty bad place mentally because of various injuries and it leads to a very neglected blog.

Annnnyway, that is a story for another time.  Today, we are talking about the IBJJF Worlds / Mundials that start this THURSDAY MAY 29th 2014.

I wanted to take some time and highlight some of the Ontario and local competitors who will be competing.  There is ussually lots of article out there about the big names to look out for, which are always fun to read, but no one ever talks about the slightly lesser known, but likely just as entertaining competitors from the local scene.  I can't possible talk about everyone, there are dozens, so please don't feel bad if I don't talk about you, it's probably because I don't know you well enough, or I just ran out of time.

I'm going to start with 3 awesome ladies who kick my ass.  The ladies never get as much press and it's time for that to end, plus, they kick my ass, so I know a bit about them :)

Alison Tremblay
Alison fights out of Alpha MMA which is a BTT Canada afiliate out near Ottawa, ON.  She's a brown belt under Fabio Holanda.  At the 2012 Worlds she won gold in the purple belt medium heavy division.  She took home double gold at the nogi pans in 2012 and 2013(at purple belt).  Worlds will be her first Major IBJJF competition at brown belt and she will be competing in the Super Heavy division.  I'm looking forward to seeing how she has adapted her excellent half guard (top and bottom) game to be competitive at this new level.  I've had the pleasure of losing to Alison on 10 or 12 separate occasions and I have learned sometimg every time.  As a side note, her brother Mike, will be fighting in the Purple medium heavy division as well. He's been steadily improving on his results on the scene here in Ontario and I think he'll be a force to reckon with this year at worlds.

Yacinta Nguyen-Huu
Yacinta is a purple belt who is originally from the Toronto area, but is currently in Montreal, competing out of the BTT Canada head quarters there.  She's coming off of a Dominant performance at the Ontario open, where she won the purple+ absolute and also fresh from Abu Dhabi where she won her weight class.   Her excellent Judo and insane preasure will make her a contendor in the Medium Heavy division at this years worlds.   I have only had one match with Yacinta, at the pro trials in montreal this past February.  She won on points, but I spent a good 4 minutes in a very tight triangle.


Sissi(Siprachanh) Phatsana
Sissi is also a purple belt from BTT Canada.  As blue belts we had a couple matches and they were competitive and evenly matched. Since we have both become purple belts, she has kicked my butt pretty badly.   She's definitely stepped up a notch and has had amazing results over the last year or so.  Double silver at the last nogi worlds, gold at nogi pans, and a silver, losing a very close decision to Erin Herle at the pro-trials in Montreal last February.   Sissi will be taking the heavy weight division by storm at this years worlds.

Some other awesome local ladies to look out for:

Delphie Dugal-Tessier(RCJ Machado):  Fighting in the purple light-feather division. Delphie won the purple+ light absolute at the ontario open to win a trip to worlds.   She's got some impressive wins on her resume and is worth keeping an eye out for.

Sarah Draht(Pacific Top Team):  She's in purple medium heavy,  beat me for the gold at Pans.  She's got a solid guard, is super strong and is really nice to top it off.  I'm quite intrested in seeing how she follows up her dominant pans performance.

Marie Fanton(Gracie Barra Montreal): Marie is coming off of a silver medal performance in the masters purple belt feather weight division. But don't let the fact that it was masters fool you. at pans, some of the ladies masters divisions were just as big as the adult.  She's got great jiu jitsu and I'm looking forward to watching her.

Jessica McNeill(BTT Canada):  She's in blue belt - feather. She's been climbing the ranks locally and is one of the top blue belts in the country. I have competed against Jessica once, back when we were both blue belts.  She's WAY smaller then me and gave me a run for my money. She's got a mean guard and will be a contender this year.

Terri Shauer(BTT Canada): Terri is coming off winning the lightweight blue belt absolute at the Ontario Open earlier this month.  I've had a couple matches with her in the past (when we were both blue) and I think she has a great chance at the podium.  She's competing in the blue belt light weight division.

Ayisha Issa(BTT Canada): I'll be honest, I don't know to much about Ayisha.  I have never had an opportunity to compete against her, but I have seen bits of her matches and she's got a solid game.  She will be competing in the blue belt heavy weight division.

Sarah Smith(Body of Four):  Sarah has only been training for just over a year, and is taking the scene by storm. Her natural athletisim combined with her dedication and solid technique won her gold at pans.  I expect her to do the same at worlds.  She will be competing in white belt, medium heavy.

Emily McGivern(Nova Uniao):  Emily also won gold at pans in white-belt middle.  She's strong, patient and really well rounded.  I would not be surprised to see her on the podium.

I imagine I missed a few, I don't really know the girls outside of the ontario/quebec scene, so I apologize for that.  Please don't be offended if I didn't mention you!  It's likely because I didn't know you were competing!

I must give an honourable mention to one awesome lady, who isn't Canadian, but comes up here to compete and is super cool.

Val Aspaas(Alliance):  Val is from buffalo and she won pans at blue belt light weight. Then she came to the ontario open and won the blue belt heavy absolute for a trip to worlds.  She also competes in ammy boxing and mma. Infact she has a ammy title fight in Luisianna 3 short weeks after worlds.  


You can see all the divisons on the competitor list and the schedule,  the brackets, and  order of fights are all online as well.  They used this system at pans last year and it was awesome.  Just pick which day, then you can filter and it greys out the non-filtered ones so they divisions you want are easy to pick out.  I find using CTRL + F to search the pages makes finding the people you are looking for really easy.   White and blue belts are mostly day 1 and a bit on day 2, purple is mostly day 2 with the open on day 3, brown and black are on day 3 and 4.  

I hope I have time to write another post like this one for some of the local guys, but worlds is sneaking up fast and there are demons to be killed in Diablo(I'm only 1/2 joking).

To EVERYONE competing at worlds this year,  good luck, have fun, and enjoy the Acai and BBQ!



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!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Ascension Tournament March 1st and 2nd 2014: Tournamet Recap

The 9th annual ascension tournament went down on March 1st and 2nd this year.  It was much later in the year,  I suppose to make room for the OJA sub only event that got snowed out.  I think the date changed affected the turn out a bit, with it ended up very close to the Pro Trials, where most of the high level competitors go.   Hopefully, for their 10th anniversary in 2015, they go back to mid-January.  This event is a great way to kick off the tournament year.

The event ran over 2 days with the first day being home to the junior to adult gi divisions, and Sunday being home to the kids gi, and adult nogi divisions.  This "pre-schedule" was set ages ago, it's a pretty common way to do things b/c adult gi tends to be the biggest batch of divisions, and nogi + kids tends to be about the same size.  This year that wasn't the case, with almost 300 kids registered!  It made for a nice short day on Saturday, and a fairly long day on Sunday.

The event started pretty much on time, and ran on time, even early by the end of the day Sunday.  Crazily enough, the KIDS ran on time and early. It seems like Mata Leao and the OJA are getting better at predicting how long divisions will take and so schedules are becoming more accurate.

I refereed all day Saturday, and most of Sunday.  I didn't ref during the first two hours because Pura had a bunch of kids competing, and Alasdair was in California, so I was helping coach them and stuff.   It was a lot of fun helping them out. It's really interesting to see how different kids react to competing, winning, losing, and all the rest.

The pura kids all looked great.  It was the first competition for some of them, and they handled all the new craziness of it really well.  We did an in-house a couple weeks before and I think that helped them get used to the concept of it, and was a good stepping stone towards a proper competition.

Generally, refereeeing went pretty well. We had a few hiccups of the rules on the website not matching the rules in the rulebook and that not matching the rules on the table.  There was a lot of confusion about what techniques are allowed at what age/belt. This comes up at pretty much every event, but it seemed extra prevelent at the ascension event.  The OJA has a chart of what age techniques become allowed, but it's terribly incomplete and also isn't up to date about the new 9/10 coloured belts being allowed to do armbars(they used to not be allowed).

The OJA events all follow the same ruleset as far as allowed techniques are concerned, so it would solve a lot of tournaments problems to get that chart updated and complete.  Maybe I'll try and whip something up, it would be helpful for myself and my team and helpful for the OJA and the rest of the community.  

As a referee, our first responsibility is the competitors safety, this is something we all take really seriously, especially with the kids.  I stopped probably 5 or 7 fights in the kids and juvenile divisions mostly because of armbars.  I had one kid talk back to me about stopping his fight.  It's pretty normal for them to say "I didn't tap" but this kid was all "Look here,  my arm was safe blah blah blah".  This kid was really competitive, and I get that losing sucks and they don't have the experience to know that losing one match is way better then having a hyper extended elbow and being out for months.

Anyway...  the ascension tournament always has a great vibe, with tunes on in the background, and tasty food in the cafeteria.  Once again, I was unable to get in on that tasty food this year, because I was to busy refereeing. They did feed us referees pizza, which was cool.  Once again, they thought to bring me a salad instead, which was awesome. I think it's really cool that they remember that I generally don't eat pizza and carbs and stuff.  Of course, I was on a total cheat fest, so I ate pizza, AND salad lol.

Acai Cafe was on hand on Saturday, making their delicious bowls.  They even added peanut butter as a topping, which was AMAZING!  It's a bummer they weren't there on Sunday though, there were tonnes of people there and I think they would have done really well. I was really looking forward to more acai bowls to get me through the day on Sunday.

Ascension really works hard to make the kids have a good day.  They have trophies and awards for outstanding competitors and also very cool medals.  They take care of the adults to, with nice absolute trophies for them.

That's about all I've got to say about that.  The ascension tournament is consistently one of my favourite events and I'm really looking forward to see what they are going to do for their 10th anniversary next year!

PS: I need to stop doing these reviews weeks after the events, I forget this and it's all not fresh any more, but life is to busy sometimes.  Hopefully I can whip something up about pans before I forget it all too.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Montreal Pro Trials: Feb 22nd 2014 Recap


A couple weeks ago, we went to Montreal for the pro trials. For the first time since I can remember, the drive there wasn't horrible.  Last year, it was a nightmare, at one point, we though we weren't g-going to make it,even though we left on Thursday night!

We did hit traffic about 5 minutes into the drive, there was an accident on the highway just outside of hamilton, but nce we got past that, we decided to jump on the 407, since we were getting into rush hour time, and rush hour, on the 401 through Toronto, is not a lot of fun at all.

We stayed at the Universal Hotel, which is right across the road from the venue.  We like to stay here, because it's price is comparable to the mid-town, but has free parking, and is super convenient for walking to the venue.  When the tournament was 2 days it was even better because we could just go back and forth through out the day.

We headed over to the mid-town for weighins around 3pm, ended up parking on the street, and paying 9 bucks, which is cheaper then hotel parking, but still pretty ridiculous for a couple hours of street parking.  The worst part about paying or a couple hours of parking, was that we didn't use most of it, that's because, after we weighed in we attempted to get dinner at the hotel restaurant.

we got sat down pretty quickly, but that was it, we were there for literally 20 minutes and none of the restaurant staff even glanced at us.  It's like they were purposefully avoiding even looking at our table or walking near bye.  It was ridiculous.  we gave up, left, and ate dinner at our own hotel.

Our hotel restaurant was under construction, but they just had all the tables in one of the conference rooms and it was a-ok.  We got there before they were technically open, but they sat us and fed us anyway, which was nice.  The restaurant isn't cheap, but the food is pretty good and the service is decent all the staff we have dealt with in the times we have stayed spoke English well enough, and put up with our weirdness well.

Anyway... back to the event.  The level of jiu jitsu was really high, in the ladies divisions especially.  There were way more ladies then in any of the past Montreal trials.  There were 3 brown/black divisions and a light and heavy purple absolutes.   The two blue belt absolutes were way bigger then in the past as well.

One competitor that stood out to me, in the women's division was Dominyka,  She's from Marcelo Garcia's school and has fantastic jiu jitsu.  She just got her brown belt a couple weeks before worlds last year, and won her division there,  she won her division at the trials this year, AND the absolute.

The men's brown/black divisions were split up for the first time (that I can remember anyway) this year as well.  The brown belts got 2 absolutes and the black belts had a bunch of weight classes.   You can see all the results on the trials website here.

I ended up going home with a silver medal.  I won 1 fight, lost 1.  My first fight went pretty well, I actually worked on some things I've been training and was able to finish the fight with an armbar.  We did have a bit of a situation mid-match though.  We were near the edge and I was working to take her back.  I had a collar grip but it wasn't high, and we ended up mostly out of bounds,  the ref stopped us, and tried to re-start us in the middle, but her coach was having none of it.  The ref ended up giving her 2 penalties for delaying the match before she got back into position.  There beef was that we were "in a submission" and should be stood up and me get 2 points.  But, all I had was 1 collar grip on her back, and it wasn't near a sub.  She got out of that pretty quick and in the transitions I got the armbar.
My second fight was against Yacinta, who is awesome.  I pulled guard, and she smashed through it to half guard.  I almost got a kimura, but I held on to it way to long when it wasn't viable anymore, and it went down hill, quickly, after that.  I ended up in a triangle for about 4 minutes till the end of the match.  Not my best match by any means, but I learned some things to work on from it and my Jiu Jitsu will be better for it.

The tournament started on time, but ended up behind schedule by the end of the day.  We left around 7 and the blue absolute was just getting started.  Generally, the event ran really well.

Weighins and checkin were pretty quick, but strange.  We had to weigh in with our gis, but it was day before weighins.  To me, the only reason to weigh in with a gi on is, because the IBJJF does weighins right before the division, so t gt through it quickly and get the matches running, you have your gi on so you don't have to go change.  It's weird to require a gi when weighing in the day before.   It's not really bad,  just strange.  They weren't even inspecting the gis at weigh ins, that happened at the venue before the matches to.  So you could weigh in with one gi, and compete in another.

This year was the first time they did the event all in one day which made for a really long day.  Especially because there were more kids competing, and a lot more masters then in the past.  They gave out 5 kids trips, which were "to be decided by the organizer".  Personally, I'm not sure kids should be competing for trips at a scale like this, it is a cool opportunity for them but it's a lot of pressure and also puts a lot of financial pressure  on the parents as well.  I don't think there should be masters either.  They can't win a trip and it adds a lot of time to the day.  Either get rid of the divisions, or give the trips!

On the way home, we discovered something horrible  The onRoute service centres on the 401 only have tim hortons open after 9pm on weekends.  During the week they are open much later, but apparently, on weekends, they all shut down at 9, even the convenience stores aren't open.  We ended up stopping in Brockville to grab some pizza hut.   It was a weird pizza hut, that didn't follow the same promos that most of the pizza huts do.  But, it was quick and we pretty much always get pizza after competing.

Te drive home was really uneventful, the guys slept most of the drive, as usual, and there wasn't snow to deal with which was amazing.  We made great time, even with our 2 gas stops and the pizza stop.

There were a bunch of photographers at the event.  One even got a few decent shots of me!   You can see that album here.  It's linked one one of the pics of me, but there are hundreds of pics in the album.  The talented Erin Herle's (who was multi-tasking at the event,  winning the light purple absolute, and taking amazing pics)   album can be found here.  She worked with Martin to take pics for Gracie Mag.

I also took a bunch of pics, but my camera battery was dying, so I didn't get many. You can check them out on facebook if you like.

That's all for now!   See you on the mats!


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Grappling Industries: Montreal Sub Only Feb 1st 2014

This was supposed to be the 2nd sub only event of the year for us, but The OJA one in Kitchener got shut down by the snowmagendonpocalyse that was a minor snow storm. It was pretty disapointing for everyone involved, but there was nothing the OJA could do, the venue shut them down. But, this post isn't about that It's about last weekends road trip to Montreal.

It started out like a typical drive to Montreal, so that means horrible traffic from Mississagua to Whitby.  We headed out around 3pm, and got to our hotel at around 10:00pm.  Which isn't actually that bad, we made great time past whitby, and only took 1 gas/food/pee stop.

We stayed at the Novotel near the Mirabel airport. It was only $100+tax per night, and had free parking and wifi.  The parking and wifi are two of the biggest factors when I pick a hotel.  It's great that a hotel is like 75 or 80 per night, but if parking is 15 bucks (or 20 or 25, or even 35) and there is a fee for the wifi, suddenly $100 looks a lot better.  The room was quite nice, the headboards had cool lights built into them, that we didn't discover until we were heading out in the morning. We couldn't hear people in the hall, the beds were comfy, the room was big enough, and the bathroom was quite nice.   The pillows were kind of flat, and there was only 2 on each bed, so that kind of sucked, but if that is the worst thing about a hotel, I'll stay again.  The bathroom doors were weird, and there wa s a gap in them, which meant zero sound proofing. I swear, this is the one thing hotels can't get right.  We DON'T want to hear everything that is going on in the bathroom!

Anyway... We did our ussual morning routine for these events, go weigh in for the very start of weighins, then head to Cora's for breakfast and back to the venue intime to digest, relax, and get ready to fight.  Cora's is a bit pricey, but it's realiable, never very busy, and pretty close to the venue.

The event started with a 20 minute sub only super fight between Gabe Sagman and Steve Shipinkas.  It was a pretty entertaining match and ended in a draw.  Steve did get a penalty, which the reff used to award Gabe the win, but that was changed right away, since it was only 1 penalty, and it was sub-only, ect.  Neither guy dominated enough to be declared the winner so a draw was a fair outcome.

Next up after the super fight was the GI Super Absolute. This was IBJJF ruleset, open belt, open weight, open gender and it was an extra $10 to enter.  I admit, some of the match ups that happened were pretty interesting, but I am not a huge fan of the concept, especially the guys vs girls thing.   I'll be the first to say that women should be allowed to compete in men's divisions if there is no one in theirs, but to hae the potential for a 120lbs white belt women to fight a 250lbs purple belt guy,  It's just asking for injuries.  There were quite a few girls in the nogi version, and none of them made it out of the first round (that I saw). I admire them for giving it a go, but It's not something I will ever do.  Toronto's Sub only coming up in March has the trips as prizes for the super absolutes and I am pretty disapointed about it.

Anyway... The format for the tournament was round robin, where you get 4 (ish) fights, and then there may or may not be tie breakers. A win by sub got you 3 points, decision got you 2 points, and a tie got you 1.  This worked pretty well, but got a bit tricky when you ran into people who didn't show, and people who dropped out to injury. These were treated as decision wins, and got the "winner" 2 points.  I think, down the road, they would be better of re-doing the draws after weighins closed so that no-shows were eliminated and everyone got a fair shot at getting the full 12 points for 4 sub wins.    After the round robin, if there was  a tie, we did tie breaker matches.  If, after the first 5 minutes, there was no clear winner, they fought another 5 minutes, and another 5 after that if there was still no clear winner.  I only had a few of these come up, and almost all of them had subs in the second 5 minutes, or were clear cut after that 5 minutes.  I don't think anyone ended up in the 2nd overtime.

I reffed for the first 1/2 of the morning, while switching off and watching a couple of new(er) referees.  The I competed in my division (blue+ open weight) and went straight back to refereeing till the end of the day.  My second fight was a real eye opener for me.  I fought Ashten, and she is really tough!  It made me see that I really need to tighten up my game and never give an inch. it was a really good match, and I look forward to competing with her again down the road.

As you probably know, grappling industries uses really small mat areas. It's something I've complained about as a competitor and a referee on many occasions.  I know mats are expensive, and they have limited venue space, blah blah blah blah, but it is DANGEROUS to have such small areas, with such limited safety areas between them.  Especially with inexperienced referees who cannot control the fighters they are refereeing.  On Saturday, I saw fighters repeatedly ending up on the mat beside them, and even once, on the mat beside that.  This is ridiculous.  The referees need to be more assertive, and have better positioning,  the fighters need to have better awareness of where they are, and the tournament needs to have bigger areas and/or bigger saftely areas between them.

This issue was highlighted by a situation that happened to me, while refereeing min-afternoon.  I was standing at the edge of my mat area, keeping myself between the fighters I was refereeing, and the mat behind me, focused on those fighters, when, out of the blue I got full on taken out from behind.   Thankfully, my fighters were still standing, were paying attention, and stopped and waited, while the fighters from the mat behind me climbed off me me (while i was pretty much face planted) and I dragged myself up.  I rolled my ankle and got some pretty awesome bruises from the whole ordeal, which isn't to bad, all things considered, but it could have been MUCH worse and should NOT have happened.

On to happier things.  Pura had a pretty great day, we had 4 people competing:  Steve, Jon, Andrew and myself, and took home 6 medals.   Steve won gold in gi and nogi,  Andrew won gold in gi and bronze in nogi, Jon won Bronze in gi (did not compete in nogi) and I won gold in gi (did not compete in nogi).  Steve was on fire, subbing all his opponents handily.  Jon had a bit of a rough day, he'd been sick for over a week and was still quite under the weather, but he still managed to put a guy to sleep.  Andrew dominated his gi division and looked good in his nogi division as well.  His gi final was a tie breaker that he won after overtime by decision.

I'm not entirely sure what happened, but the gi absolutes for the guys just didn't happen.  My division was already combined, so I didn't have one.  Since there were supposed to be "Season Passes" for the winners of the absolutes, Andrew and Steve were suposed to compete for them.  They both ended up getting a seasons pass, I guess because they were the only ones that followed up about it, or they gave all the winners one, I don't know.  I also earned a seasons pass by winning my division (which was, in reality, an absolute).  Having the season pass will be a nice cost saver for us, since we attend so many competitions and they add up quick.

As the day was winding down, some mats finished way before others,  the mat I ended up refereeing at for most of the afternoon somehow had way way way more matches then the others, so I pawned a few off on 2 other mats.  Then I ended up being done before one of those mats (the other still finished ahead), so I got some of them back.   The guys were giving me "can we go yet" faces for about an hour and a half, so I found one of the other referees who had not started till later in the day, and got him to take over for me.  Thank You for that!  It made me get home at 2am instead of 3 or 4 am!

Yea,  2 am.  We left the venue around 5pm, and it was snowing. Surprise, a snow storm, when we are on a road trip to Montreal.  If we are going to Montreal, between Oct and May, there WILL be a snow storm. It's a fact, it's science, and it cannot be disputed.  The 401 was snow covered and kind of drifty from Montreal to Kingston, where there was a bit of a break, then again from just past Kingston to about Ajax and sporatically on the outskirts of Toronto. Once we hit Toronto proper it was just went so we could make decent time.  In the snow covered bits, we varied between about 60-80km/h.  We saw a bunch of cars in the ditches, and a plow that looked ot be stuck as well, which is kind of hilarious.  I was having flashbacks to last february's nightmare trip TO Montreal, but the good news is, my car handled the snow fine. It stayed out of my air filter, so I am confident we are going to get to the trials without any car trouble this year.

The event Photographer did a really great job taking pictures.  He got a good mix of the mat areas, and got some great shots. You can see the album here on facebook.  As ussual, there are plenty of pictures of me looking stupid while refereeing.  I swear, not a single picture exists of my refereeing where I don't have a stupid look on my face, or am in an awkward position, or am just generally looking stupid or fat or something.  I might have to open up a bounty for event photographers: First one to get a good, flattering, not ugly picture of me refereeing will get a prize.


That's about all I have to say,  overall it was a pretty good event.  It ran surprising quickly considering the format, but I would like to see longer matches, I think it would end up with less draws, but, then we need more mats, more refs, more staff, more space, or we would be there all night.  I'm looking forward to their Toronto Event on March 29th.

Coming up next for me is the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in Montreal on Feb 22nd.  I'm attempting to cut to the -145lbs weight class, and let me tell you, my body is not a fan.  It's not a fan of middle weight, let alone 145 with a gi on, but I think I will make it.  I SHOULD be able to given what my scale says my body fat is, but who knows, time will tell.   We have a pretty good size crew from Pura heading out for that Trip, so it will be a fun weekend!

Also coming up, just confirmed, announced, registration opened. Is Ascension on March 1st.  This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year.  Omar puts on a great event.  I think I wil just be refereeing though, since Pans is only 2 weeks later, and last time (Ontario Open last year) I competed that close to a major event, it didn't quite work out my way, and thousands of dollars were wasted.  Wasted might be a bit harsh, but I ended up on the sideline for months, wasn't able to compete at worlds, and wasted over a week of vacation time on the trip.

See you on the Mats!



Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jiu Jitsu Hair: a How to Guide

This is a topic that comes up pretty regularily in the facebook groups and forums that I frequent.  "My hair is this long, how can I keep it contained for Jiu jitsu", or "My hair always goes in my eye and makes me cry when I roll how do I fix this"?  Ok, that one might be made up, but you get the point right?

A surprising number of these questions come from guys.  Which, I suppose, is understandable.  While it's not super unusual for guys to have hair that is quite long, Most of them don't have a lot of experience when it comes do doing anything other then brushing it, and maybe throwing it in a low elastic to keep it back.  There are lots of ladies asking as well, but they generally have a better idea or starting point at least.  So, this post is for everyone who has medium to long hair!

Your best option will depend on your hair length.  Some techniques work better for shorter hair, and some for longer hair.  How much time and dexterity you have to commit to your hair is also a factor.  I'll do my hair differently depending on how much time I have.  Generally, the longer it takes, the better it will stay contained, so keep that in mind.

For all of these styles,  I generally tie up the hair i'm not focusing on with an elastic, to keep it out of the way so that it doesn't tangle in while I'm trying to tie up, or braid other hair.  It's an extra step, but it's quick, and saves time in the long run.

One thing that is important to remember is that for Jiu Jitsu( and MMA, and judo, and pretty much all combat sports), you aren't allowed to have any medal or hard plastic in your hair (or on your body for that matter) when competing.  So those handy dandy medal flat clips are a nogo for competition. I don't like to use them for training either, because if they popped open then could poke someone in the eye or something.  When it comes to elastics, they can't even have that little medal bit that holds them together that some have.

Jaw Length or Less
Let's start with the shortest length that you really have to worry about it, When your hair is down, it's about jaw length.  Any shorter then this, and it doesn't really get in the way. In theory, these techniques could work for shorter still, but Probably aren't worth the effort.  My hair was this short in mid-2012.  You basically have 2 options.  1.  Braids, 2. pony tails/pig tails/ typing it up.  I will use those three terms to mean the same thing, wrapping an elastic around hair to tie it up.

When hair is this length, you are going to need a bunch of elastics, no matter which way you go.  It's to short to tie all in one place.  I generally went with 4-6 sections, until it got a bit longer, then could get away with 2. When hair is jaw length, or less, you don't have to worry to much about it laying on the mat and getting knelt on,  or getting in the way of your collars, the main problem is it getting in your face.  So we need to take the hair on the top of your head, and tie it back.

If you have a lot of time, braiding is the way to go, french braiding at that.  I made 2 little videos of my braiding my hair.  The first, with no commentary.
The second with a commentary.  These are filmed with my phone, so it was a bit tricky having such a small "mirror" to work with.  If your hair is jaw length or less, you can stop braiding after the french braid is complete, and tie it up securely with an elastic or two.  You don't want to use the big chunky elastics I used in the video though, they will come loose easily, use smaller ones that you can get really tight.

The shorter your hair is, the more of these braids you are going to want to do, and the less hair you are going to want to add with each section, or else it will fall out.

My hair is currently to long to properly demonstrate this technique, but I do have some pictures from the past, sporting the pony tales.  The concept is the same, whether you are go with braids or pony tails.  Split the front 1/4 to 1/3 of your head(from about your ears forward) into 4-6 equal parts and tie them back individually.  The shorter your hair is, the more sections you want.

This picture is kind of far away, but you can see the ponytails sticking up/back a bit and see my hair is nicely out of my face and out of the way. This picture is a much better close up.  This was my 4th fight of the day and you can see, on the right side, it's getting a bit lose and messy.  The good thing is, it's quite easy to repair this style so if it comes out, it won't take long to fix.

Once your hair gets a bit longer, you can use less sections.  Between the transition of the jaw length, to the really annoying length, I tied it in 2 sections to keep it out of my face. It takes less elastics, and less time, but is less secure.

When your hair is jaw length or less, like I mentioned before, the back of your head's hair isn't really an issue, but, you can't do much about it anyway, it's to short to tie into anything sensible, that wouldn't actually get more in the way.


Shoulder Length Hair

Once your hair is shoulder length, you have to start worrying about the back of your head.  That hair will end up on the mat when your on the bottom of side control, mount, or even playing guard, and nothing is worse then trying to bridge, or shrimp, or move your head, and having your own back, or your opponents knee on your hair stopping you!

There are a LOT of ways to deal with this hair, from supper lazy and not that effective, to fairly time consuming and very effective.

  1. A basic Pony tail.  Just gather all your hair up in the middle of the back of your head, and tie it up.  This is quick and dirty, and will keep it out of your face, and a bit out of the way.  But, it'll fall out quick, and will still give you a lot of trouble.


  2. Take your pony take from option # 1, and fold up the tail and wrap a bunch of elastics around it.  I show the beginning of this in the pony tail video above, but just take that, and add a pile of elastics around it. Only 1 will hold up to the warm up, but as soon as people start touching your head it all comes undone. This is what I do when I am in a rush.  a basic pony tale is not effective at my current hair length, because it still gets under my shoulders.   The down side to this method is, it can get a bit bulky at the back, depending on your hair length/thickness, and then popping your head out of guillotines and bow and arrows and so on can be a bit tricky because your hair will create a hook for their arm to stay on.  

  3. Pony tail and braid. This is a pretty solid option if you have an extra minute or two.  Do a basic pony tail, then braid the hair from there (a regular braid, not a french braid).  You can then wrap the braid up in a kind of bun, and it'll be pretty sturdy.  When I am a little bit less lazy, this is how I do my hair.  Here's a pic from training of the pony tail + braid.






  4. Dual French Pony Tails.  Yea, I just made that term up, because I don't really know how better to describe it. You take the concept of french braiding (adding hair as you go) and apply it to pony tails.










  5. Dual French Braids.  Split your hair in half, and french braid it down to the end.  With #4 and with these french braids, I like to take the ends, and tie them up, just like any other style.  They make less of a bump when they have been braided or pony tailed down to the end, so it's a lot better this way, then a regular pony tale bunned up.


    This picture, you can see the results of french braids, tied up, after a bunch of matches. It's gotten a bit messy, but it's still pretty well contained.  This picture, I didn't tie the braids up very well, and you can see, if I was on my back, they'd be on the floor, not quite idea.

You see a lot of mma fighters with cornrows in their hair. This is the ULTIMATE safe Jiu jitsu hair style.  Cornrows are basically super tight french braids done with very small bits of hair.  Fun Fact, when I was a kid, my mom used to do my hair in tiny braids.  the top/front would be cornrowed and the back would be all braids.  I'd have somewhere between 50 and 100 braids in my hair.  It was petty bad ass.

This picture of Uriah Faber shows the technique I show with french braiding the top half.  His braids are a lot smaller, and therfore more secure. If I had the time, and arm stamina, I'd do it this way. 

Roxy has rocked some pretty awesome corn rows.  Her stylist got creative and zigged and zagged.  That would be nearly impossible to do yourself, so you are on your own if you need a tutorial on it.  I could do it to your hair, but not my own.

This picture of Miesha and Ronda show the french braids, and a take on the french pony tales.  As you can see Miesha's hair is already coming undone, this is why most of the ladies go for corn rows.  Ronda's hair is pretty excellent, it's a more complicated french pony tail style, where she has multiple starting points that each have hair added, then they all get put together and braided at the back.  

Finally, there are some girls and guys out there that use a swim cap to keep their hair contained.  Some swear by it, but I don't think I could handle it.  My hair get so sweaty and I get so hot training, I can imagine having my entire head encased in rubber/plastic.  But, the option is out there for you if you want to give it a try.



Thursday, 2 January 2014

Tournament Draw Systems Part 3 - Round Robin

So, we talked about Single Elimination, and Double Elimination already, the only other system that is really used is Round Robin. 

Round Robin is a weird one,  it's got a million variations, and it makes a big difference how large the division is as to how it works.  The basic premise is that everyone fights everyone, and whoever has the most wins, is gold, and second most is silver, and third most is bronze.  Of course, nothing is ever that simple in the real world.

Generally, if a division is larger then 5, it will get split into "pools",  so you only fight the people in your pool, and then the winners of the pools move on to a single elimination bracket.  Also, generally, the number of pools is kept to an even number, that makes a nice single elimination bracket at the end.  The pools aren't always the same size, so sometimes people will have more fights then others.  

Sometimes, only the top 1 from each pool moves on, and sometimes top 2.  in this case, the #2's fight the #1's from the other pool.

Confused yet?  Let's add another complication.  Sometimes (quite often) there is a tie, in a pool,  in a 5 person pool, two fighters go 3-1, now what?  There are a couple ways to determine the winner:
  1. Who won the fight between the two?  That person is #1. (If there is a 3 way tie, this falls apart)
  2. It goes to points:  X points for each submission, X points for a win by points, and X points for a win by decision.
    1. If those points are tied, it sometimes goes to who score the most points in the matches, or who won their matches the quickest.
    2. Generally with those criteria someone comes out ahead, but in case they don't I would think that another fight between them happens, or they go to the first criteria I mentioned, who won the fight between the two of them.

There are many different ways that round robin draws are visualized, There isn't really a right or wrong way, but I think there are varying levels of complication and understandability when it comes to the draws.  

This style takes up the least amount of space, and is easy to calculate, BUT, it is a bit confusing at first.


This might need a bit of explanation.  Each ROW represents that persons matches.  They don't fight themselves, that is why there is that diagonal line of greyed out boxes.  Each fight, in this style of sheet, is represent in 2 boxes, one for each fighter.  As with all my other samples, the match number is in red.  The purple is all things the draw person would fill in.   As you can see, there is a lot more information that has to go into recording round robin,  to handle the times.   Personally, when I am running a mat, I record how they won for all types of sheets, just to be safe, and for the promoters records.  If I am feeling crazy, I'll write the match time down too.  

So, in this case, who gets what place depends on if they are going by option #1, or option #2.  

If we go by option #1 we have a situation,  the each loss to each other,  Fred beat Bob, who beat Same, who beat Fred. If Matt had won against Fred, then we would have had a tie for first/second and a tie for third/fourth.   Let's figure out who wins what medal,  in that revised senario.

Going by option #1.
Bob beat Sam, so Bob get's first, and Sam gets second and based on our revision above, Mat beat Fred, so Mat gets 3rd and Fred gets 4th, leaving poor, winless Joe in 5th.

Going by option #2 (still with the revision of Matt beating Fred).
Bob and Sam both have 3 wins, 2 of which are subs, and one of which are points, so in the round robin scoring, they are tied.  Next we look at how many points they scored in the match that was won by points.  Sam scored 14 points and 4 advantages, while bob scored 4 points and 2 advantages. So,  Sam wins Gold and Bob gets silver.  

Going by option #2(with the original, scoring showed in the image)
Bob and Sam are still tied on the round robin scoring, and Fred, who only has 1 submission, 1 points, and 1 decision, loses that tie breaker and gets third place, Sam still gets gold, and Bob gets silver. 

It's important to note that the round robin scoring (X points for sub, Y points for winning by points and Z points for a decision)  ONLY comes into play when there is a TIE of wins.  You cannot play the numbers,  lose more matches, but end up with more points to get the gold, no matter which way of figuring out ties is being used.


Here is another style of sheet, filled in for the exact same scenario:
In this mode,  the order of fights and who fights who is a bit more clear,  but, calculating the totals is not nearly as handy.  

Fun fact,  technically, the top or first name is supposed to be the blue/colour fighter.  So, if you are ever competing, and see the draws ahead of time, dress appropriately, or get the silly belt ready.  At big tournaments like the IBJJF worlds, for the black belt finals, they REQUIRE you to follow this rule, first fighter MUST wear ROYAL BLUE(not navy, not black, not white).   This isn't a new concept, Judo has done it forever.  At big judo tournaments, you have to wear the right colour gi as well, that is why I had to bring 4 gis to every tournament.  (a spare of each colour, in case of blood).    I personally, as a referee, fan, and competitor, like this policy, it makes keeping the fighters straight so much easier.  I hope it becomes a trend in NOGI to.  maybe have a white based rashguard and a black based rashguard or something.

I mentioned Pools earlier.  Let me illustrate that system for you now.  I got a bit lazy, and just changed the names, and the outcome of fight #10.   In a case like this, each pool could be run on a separate mat, and then the semi and final matches run once the pools are complete. Alternatively, they could be alternated doing 2 matches from pool #1, then two from pool #2 and so on. 


Now, this is all well and good, when you don't promise a number of matches to your competitors, which, the main user of round robin here in Ontario does.  Grappling Industries uses their own wacky version of round robin where you fight 4 people in your division. There isn't pools like in a standard system.  So if you have a division of 20 people, fighter # 1 might fight fighter # 2, 8, 10 and 19, then fighter #2 might fight # 1, 10, 17, and 4,  and so on.  Divisions of 2 you fight the same guy twice, divisions of 3 you fight each guy twice, divisions of 4, you get three fights.  and divisions of 5+ you fight some subset of the fighters in the division.  The table gets a list of matches for the division, which has the fighters names, and a column for the winner and what they won by.  It does work quite nicely for keeping the mat running, but it's difficult to keep track of the points and who's fighting who.

They end up with a LOT of ties,  some of which I think could be avoided using a proper pooling system.   When there are ties at grappling industries events they take all the tied people and have them battle it out in a single elimination bracket. 

This all might change, since they partnered up with Mata Leao to do their draws.  I hope they start using a more standardized system because it can cause a lot of confusion for the fighters, and the table workers using this style.


The other time you see round robin in Ontario is with KIDS divisions at OJA events. They use sheets that look similar to the second example.  For the very young kids, they split the categories into pools small enough so that every kid gets a medal, and for the older kids, they split them up so that the kids get a few fights, and then the pool winners go to a semi final and final single elimination bracket.   I think this is really fair for the kids, because it sucks for everyone to lose 1 fight and be out, and while I am all for kids learning by failing, giving them they opportunity  to compete in more then 1 match is good for them.


So, that wraps up the round robin.  There are probably some complexities that I have missed.  It creates a lot of matches, but It's a system that can create a lot of experience, and is pretty good for fairly assessing the true best competitors. 

  


  

Friday, 27 December 2013

Tournament Draw Systems Explained - Part 2 Double Elimination

Welcome back to this series on tournament draw systems.  Part one introduced the series and talked about the single elimination system.  This is part 2 and we shall talk about Double Elimination.

There are 3 main variations of Double Elimination:

  1. Modified Double
  2. True Double
  3. Double with Repechage.
Modified double is the simplest, true double is a bit more complicated and the repechage is where things get a little crazy.   Most events that use a double elimination system tend to use the modified double elimination, but the Repechage system is what is used at very high level sport events such as the Olympics.  The repechage system itself has a lot of variations, but we will get to that when we get to that.

The basic concept of double elimination is similar to single elimination, where you have rounds, and the winners move down the tree.  The difference is, once you lose, you move down to the losers bracket and have an opportunity to fight for 3rd at the very least, and in some cases, silver, or even a shot at gold.

Let's start with Modified Double Elimination. In this system,  The person who doesn't lose any gets gold, the person who loses in the final gets silver, and the winner of the losers bracket gets bronze.  Sometimes you will have the two people who got to the end of the losers bracket get bronze, but usually, in modified double, there is only 1 bronze.  Confused yet?  Let's look at a picture.  We will start with a simple 8 person division, just like we did for single elimination.

8 person modified double no fight for silver
As you can see, the concept of rounds / quarters / semis/finals gets a little muddled, because of the dual bracket, but once you follow the Ws and Ls it's pretty clear how it all works.   The losers of the first round of the top bracket fill in the first round of the bottom bracket.  The winners of the first round of the bottom bracket move on to the second round of the bottom bracket, where they are joined by the losers of the 2nd round of the top bracket. 

The losers of the 1st round of the bottom bracket have now lost twice, and are out, they place 7th.   The losers of the 2nd round of the bottom bracket have no lost twice as well, and place 5th.  The winners of the 2nd round of the bottom bracket move on to the "final" of the bottom bracket, this is the fight for third place.  The winner gets bronze/third, and the loser gets 4th.   At the top bracket,  the third round is the final, the winner gets gold, the losers gets silver.  

In this example,  the gold medal winner has zero losses, silver has 1 loss, and bronze also has one loss. This is where one sometimes,  the loser of the final, will drop down to the bottom bracket, and fight for silver/bronze.  Like this:
8 person modified double w/ fight for silver
 Here, Alasdair loses in the final, drops down to the bottom bracket, and beats Bruce, to win the silver, and Bruce gets bronze.  

There is one other detail to keep in mind with double elimination.  In the second round of the bottom bracket, the losers switch sides.  L7 goes to the bottom half, while L8 goes to the top. This is so that they don't fight someone they have already fought.  Fighting someone you have already fought becomes unavoidable at the very end in the fight for silver/bronze sometimes. As you can see Alasdair and Bruce fought in the 2nd round of the top bracket, and then they fought again in the last fight of the bottom bracket. 

13 person modified double elimination bracket
As you can see, once you start having divisions with weird numbers, the byes complicate matters, as do the extra rounds, but the concept is still the same.  When you lose at the top, you move down to the bottom, and when you lose in the bottom, you are out,  keep winning, and you can work your way back to medal contention.   Like in the 8 person division, some events may chose to have the loser of the last fight on the top bracket drop down to face the last fight of the bottom bracket for silver, this way gold has 0 losses, silver has 1, and bronze has 2.

True double works almost the same as either of these modified doubles, except that the winner of the bottom bracket gets a chance at the winner of the top bracket.  In this case,  they need to beat the winner of the top bracket TWICE to get the gold, while the winner of the top bracket needs to beat the winner of the bottom bracket just once.  Thus everyone except the Gold medal winner has lost twice, in true DOUBLE elimination style.   This isn't a super common way of running the sheets, but it does happen, and it's kind of interesting to see if the underdog can take the cake. 

There are 3 ways that a true double elimination draw can end.  #1, the winner of the top brackets defeats the winner of the bottom bracket the first time. In this case, it's over, top winner gets gold, bottom winner gets silver.
True double, the shortest ending.

The second option is, the winner of the bottom bracket wins the first fight against the winner of the top bracket, setting them each to 1 loss each. Then the winner of the top bracket wins the 2nd fight, for gold, while the loser gets silver.
True double, top bracket winner still wins
Finally, the winner of the bottom bracket gets the upset, defeating the winner of the bottom bracket twice in a row, and taking gold, while the loser gets silver.
The ultimate upset, true double, with the bottom bracket winner taking the gold

So, this leaves us with the final, most complicated version of double elimination, the repechage.  Like all the others, there are a couple ways that this can work, but the general idea is,  if you lose, then the person that beat you has to win in order or you to get to the losers bracket.  

In they Olympics, for judo, this only applies if you lose to the four athletes in the semi(they split the athletes into 2 pools and do a repechage for each side, this picture shows how it would work with only 1 pool), lose to anyone else, and your out.  It sounds kind of complicated, but once you see it, it's not to bad.  

This system is used when divisions are large(ish), so I will use a 16 person division to illustrate it.  Sometimes, only the people who lose in the quarter finals get a second chance, which makes for a much smaller repechage bracket.   All the times I have seen repechage in action, the winner of the repechage gets bronze, while the finalists get gold/silver respectively.

You see that Matt and Alex are the finalists, so everyone who lost to them, goes into the repechage. The people who lost in the first and second round face each other, then the winner of that faces the person who lost in the third round. Then the two people left in the repechage fight each other for bronze, and the finalists of the top bracket fight for gold/silver.

So that pretty much covers the basics of the double elimination style.  Modified double is probably my favourite of all styles. It's efficient, and slightly more accurate at determining the podium then single elimination can be. I can't say whether I like the version where the final loser gets silver or if there is a fight for silver best, either is good. In theory, true double is the most accurate style, but to have to beat the top guy twice seems inefficient, and takes a long time, especially when you factor in the rest times between matches and whatnot.  

The third and final post in this series will be on the round robin system.  like single and double elimination, there are different ways of doing the draws in a round robin format.