Saturday, 27 April 2013

IBJJF New York Open April 20th 2013

ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love going on road trips, especially Jiu Jitsu ones!  On Thursday night the 5 of us piled into my little accent and drove down to New York City for the IBJJF Open.   Well, actually, we drove to New Bergen, New Jersey, which is just across the river from New York City proper.

Staying in Manhattan is insanely expensive, and not really that convenient.   Your looking at 200+ per night, for a room with one bed, or maybe 2 doubles, if your lucky.  But, they you have $25 per day for wifi,  $50 or 60 per night for parking, no free breakfast, $25-$45 per night for every person over 2 you stick in the room.   It adds up,  FAST.    Our stay cost a total of $535 bucks or so,  free breakfast, free wifi, free parking,  and we snuck around the extra guest fees.  Either way, we saved a TONNE of money by staying outside the city. I would recommend it to anyone going to New York for a tournament.  Sure, the neighbourhood wasn't ritzy, but we walked around fine, not nervous or scared for our lives.

Anyway, we got to the hotel around 12:30 or 1am.  I checked us in, and we went through the back door to get to our room (to avoid the front desk seeing we had 5 people when I booked for 2 lol).  It was more convenient going through the back anyway, the front lot was very hilly, which is a pain in the ass in a standard car.

Along the drive, I saw some interesting sites, while the boys took naps, played video games, and watch get him to the greek.  That is a freaking hilarious movie by the way.  Russel Brand is a funny funny guy.  I saw about 5 gophers,  a herd of deer, a solo deer,  some hawks,  10 or 12 trailer parks,  lots of mountains, and trees, and water.  Once it got dark, it was a lot less interesting, and once when we were driving through some seriously heavy fog,  or a cloud, hard to say,  It was much less interesting, and much more stressful.  I couldn't see more then 10 meters or so in front of me.  It's crazy how fast some people still drive when they can't see shit.   I just got behind a truck and followed the tail lights, knowing trucks can't stop fast, so I wouldn't rear-end him. 

We stopped in Lafayette for gas, it's a tiny little intersection of a town, outside of Syracuse.   The sign said there was a gas station at the exit, but then failed to have signs pointing which way to go.  A couple lucky guesses and we found it.  They had all sorts of amazing snacks and road trip friendly food at the station. It was a gas station, convenience store, pizza parlour, and grocery store all combined in one.  It MAY have been the only store in the town.   They had flavoured cheese curds,  little cups with cheese and pepperoni in them (super keto diet friendly), and not to mention the usual selection of nuts, chips, 80 million kinds of pop, and energy drinks.   The bathroom was surprising clean as well!

On the drive home, we took a very different way.  It's weird how a GPS will take you to a place on one set of highways, and then take you home on a different one.  It always takes us to Montreal and back 2 different ways as well.  We didn't change any settings or anything either.  Even weirder was, after a pit-stop for gas, it changed our route!  We ended up having an ETA of 2 minutes earlier then it was before our stop.  We cut across back roads instead of following the highways,  It was interesting to see the countryside of New York (outside of buffalo).  It was a bit annoying to have to slow down for all the little towns, but was a lovely drive over all. I said earlier, we stayed in New Jersey, at a Holiday Inn Express. I love the Holiday Inn Express line of hotels.  You always know what you'll get.  I've stayed at a few of them, and they are pretty reliable.  The breakfast is pretty much the same at all of them as well. Though, some have a waffle maker, and some have the automatic pancake maker.  Either way, you get eggs, bacon or sausage, lots of different bread options, coffee, juices, and either fresh waffles or fresh pancakes. What more can you ask for for free?

Our room had 2 queen beds, and a sofa bed.  After setting up the bed and testing it out, Steve opted to leave it as a sofa, not a bed.  Sofa beds are the worst, I have never slept on one that was more comfortable in bed form then sofa form. The room was really big, had a nice tv,  a mini fridge, and a microwave!   The outlet situation wasn't great, but we manged to keep all our devices charged.  I forgot to bring my power bar, which has 3 outlets, and 2 usb ports.  It's compact, and super handy for hotels.  I would recomend them to anyone who travels with a laptop, a couple phones and other random electronics.  It's so frustrating to have to try to find outlets hidden behind all the furniture.  A lot of hotels just weren't built for today's electronic device obsessed culture.

On Friday, we slept in,  had breakfast, then sat around debating how to get to time square for a while.  We opted to go with the "Public Shuttle"  which wasn't quite public transportation, but wasn't the hotel shuttle either.  It was 3 bucks per person, each way, which is a pretty good deal.   We roamed the streets around Times Square for a while, didn't do much shopping.  We did go to foot locker, where I bought some socks, and then couldn't find the guys back. I panicked and thought they left me there!  I walked up a bit, and couldn't find them.  I tried to call Jon and Brad's phone, but got straight to VM. I found a starbucks, and was going to try to get on the wifi to post on facebook, when Steve texted me,  turns out they were in the store the whole time!   I don't know how I missed them, and they missed me.  But, crisis averted.  We carried on to Central Park.

Central Park is pretty cool, the last 2 times I was in New York, we didn't get a chance to check it out, so I am glad we did this time.   We probably spent almost 2 hours wandering around,  watching random guys doing some little dances and trying to get money.   The one group looked like they had a lot of potential,  the guy did a handstand and did a little dance while hand standing.  But, they seemed to not be interested in actually doing much, so we got bored and left.  I tried to convince everyone to go on the carousel, but the boys would have none of it.   The park was full of trees and bushes and flowers that were already blooming!  Made coming home to the brown grass and mud extra depressing.

On the way back towards the port authority,  Steve stopped at some ritzy store to get a present for his wife.  It was pretty funny, they opened the door for him, but then didn't bother holding it open for the rest of us, apparently we didn't look rich enough hahaha.  We didn't mind waiting outside though,  It was really nice out and we didn't really want to look at the store anyway.  5 hours later... we were on our way.

We were really hungry, so started looking out for a place to eat.  We walked past Carnagie's or something like that, but it was vetoed, then we opted for a place a couple doors down, and Steve was like "If we are going to a deli, we have to go to Carnagies".  Man, was he ever right.  This place was amazing.  They pack you in like sardines, I have no idea how it meets any fire code standards.  The washrooms are in the dungeon down stairs, and it's all very cramped and claustrophobic.  I would NOT recommend it to anyone who doesn't like crowds and busy atmospheres.   But,  the food, oh man,  it was amazing.

 Our sandwiches were MASSIVE.  I could only eat 1/2, and I wasn't even eating the bread.  I got the Bacon whoopie, or something like that.  It had about 2lbs of chicken salad on it, and then about 20 strips of bacon.  per half.   It was super tasty, and gigantic.   Jon got an omelet, which wasn't that exciting, but it was big, and tasty.  Alasdair got an egg sandwich of some sort, which was the biggest breakfast sandwich I've ever seen.   Steves lunch took the cake though. He got the roast beef sandwich,  it was more like a mountain of amazingness with a piece of bread underneath.  He gave Alasdair a bunch, I ate a bunch, and I think Brad did to, and he still couldn't finish it!  The gravy on it was the best gravy I have ever tasted.

If your not on a diet, or trying to make weight for a tournament. You HAVE to go there. and also, you have to get desert. Oh my goodness, the size of the cakes.  It took all my willpower not to order it.  Apparently they taste just as good as they look to.  Speaking of desert, and completely unrelated,  apparently the cheesecake factory has a low-carb cheesecake that is keto friendly. I really want to go there and try it.  Maybe while we are in California I can get some!

Alright, so, now that we are completely stuffed, we headed back towards the port Authority, which, for those of you who don't know,  is where ALL the buses that come to Manhattan go, basically. It's a gigantic bus terminal.   On the way, we stopped at a surf shop (Elements, i think) and the boys looked at some board shorts.   They were planning on going swimming, but turns out, the pool wasn't opened anyway.  No one bought shorts, b/c none of them had any lining in them, and they all seemed like they would be pretty see-through when wet.

Carrying on,  took the shuttle back to New Jersey, and hit up Old Navy, the liquor store, and some fancy ladies clothing store.   Old Navy was fun, it was gigantic, and very spaced out, like they didn't have enough stuff to fill the store,  I think everyone bought something there,  some cheap t-shirts, some nail polish, shorts, and jeans. I'll let you guess who bought what.  At the liquor store, the boys wanted some beer for after competing on Saturday.  It was insanely cheap, they went with Heineken, which is gross, but then, all beer is gross, so I suppose it doesn't really matter.  I found some "Skinny Girl" pina coloda pre-mixed drink.  It was pretty tasty, and sweetened with stevia (i think).  They also had some vodka ice tea that was sweetened with stevia and had pretty much 0 carbs, but It was like 40% alcohol, and I didn't really want to get wasted, so I went with the drink I could sip away at without getting the sightliest tipsy.   I only had 2 small cups, that were mostly ice full.  I don't know what happened to the bottle, I hope it made it to my fridge, it was pretty good.

So, as we were walking back to the hotel, with our booze in-hand, we walked past this weird fancy women's cloths store, and in the window, they manikins had these AMAZING tights on. They were super busy, with kind of comic book style drawings on them.  Alasdair actually pointed them out to me, and I HAD to have them.  I haven't tried them out yet, they certainly aren't spatz, but even if they hold up for a few classes and 1 competition they are worth the money.  They are glorious.   I just have to work up the courage to actually wear them, without hiding them behind giant fight shorts that cover all my legs.  Maybe I need a new pair of fight shorts to...  something a bit shorter, but still modest haha.  I think, even if I had like 10% body fat, I still wouldn't be comfortable wearing just tights to grapple in. No matter how amazing they are.

I suppose I should talk about the tournament, since that is why we went to New York in the first place....

The venue is on the north end of New York,  near Harlem,  if you walk for a few minutes, away from the venue, you will end up in some pretty interesting neighbourhoods.   That being said, we didn't end up anywhere sketchy, so no big deal.   The parking situation is not idea, and neither is the check-in process.   There is a lot, right on campus, but it was for the referees only.  There is some street parking, but it filled up very fast (we were there by 8:15 or so, and the streets near by were all full). Good ol' garmin saved the day, and we found a lot about 10 min walk away.   It was down a big hill, which was a bit tiring with all our crap getting to the venue, but was lovely getting back to the car at the end of the day.

The check-in process was two-fold.  first, you line up on one side of the road, and they check your name off a list, and give you a stamp (or for spectators, you pay $15!!!! and get a ticket). This was surprisingly slow, but not as slow as the next step.   Since New York seems to have some kind of crime/gun problem.  You go across the road now, to the actual venue, wait in another line, and get your bag search, and go through a medal detector.  This isn't a terribly slow process, but when there is 1000+ competitors,  it kind of takes awhile. 

The gymnasium itself is quite nice.  Very big, with bleachers on both sides.  They weren't pulled out all the way, and got quite full towards the middle of the day.   There were a LOT of people standing in-front of them, around the barricades, so navigating to the weigh-in area was a pain in the ass.   The bathrooms were small, but the girls at least, was kept fairly clean.  They were a bit run-down but not as bad as a lot of the ones I've seen.  Why can't schools keep there bathrooms nice?  It would have been nice to have a bathroom/locker room combo, so there was more room for people to change, but whatever. 

The tournament, like all IBJJF tournaments, ran like clockwork.  Right on time, all day.  My absolute ran about 15 minutes early actually.  Which was a-ok with me, it was a long freaking day.   It might be time for the New York Open to move to a 2 day format, so they can have more competitors, and not be running the event till 8 or 9pm. They had to close registration really early (like weeks before the event), so there is obviously demand for a bigger tournament,  2 days would solve that problem, and the long day problem.

Alasdair was up first,  he won his first fight quite handily with a triangle.  It was a great fight, he controlled the pace and handled the guy well.   His second fight was a back and forth war.  He did a great job working his guard and keeping the guy in his guard, and it ended up going to a referee decision.  The referee choose the other guy.  It really could have gone either way.  I think  a few advantages could have been score on either side, but I cannot argue with the way it went.

Brad competed in the light weight master division.  I usually give people a hard time for fighting in masters, but hey,  If your a master, and there is a decent size division, I guess it's alright.   If there was only like 2 guys in the division, I would have given him a hard time, but there was 8 or so i think.  Anyway,  Brad won his first fight on points,  it was a really good fight, and he was never in trouble in it.   His second fight didn't go so well, he scored a nice sweep, but it went down hill after that and he ended up loosing by triangle.  Still good to see him scoring a win at a very big tournament.

Steve Estey was on fire!   He won his first fight dominantly, he was calm, controlled, and very methodical.  It was great to watch.   His second fight was very close,  with him winning due to a penalty that the other guy had.  It was very closely matched.   I didn't see a lot of the fight, I was busy losing in the absolute.  It was great to see Steve winning gold.  Hopefully he comes on more road trips with us.  This was the first road trip that he has come along with and he's fun to travel with.

I suppose since this is my blog, i should talk about how i did.  Badly, Poorly, awful, terrible, sadly, pathetically, embarrassingly  and any other negative adjective you could come up with.  Man, I was bad.   I don't know wtf was wrong with me, but it was not my day.   the first fight, i pulled guard terribly, tried to keep a weird position, turtled, stayed there for some reason even though I didn't have a leg, and then promptly got bow and arrowed.  Not good. I didn't do a single thing right in the entire fight.  Not one thing.

The absolute fight was almost as bad.  We did a bit of stand up, but I couldn't get much going,  not committing enough.  I give up on that, and pull DLR.  I hit a berimbolo pretty much perfect,  That was awesome.  It was one of my goals for the weekend.  But, we went out of bounds, so we got stood up and I only got an advantage.   She pulls guard, and i spend the next 6.5 minutes stuck in her closed guard.  It was awful.  I'm so bad at it.   I've got a million reasons  excuses  as to why I am bad at it, but none of them are really good enough to justify the situation.  It's something I need to fix, I just need to figure out how to get past all the things stopping me from doing it.

A few other locals and friends were there competing.  We hung out with the gringo crew most of the day.  They cleaned up their divisions pretty nicely.  Nihad won his divisions, and destroyed the ankle of guy in the final.  His guard work is a thing of beauty.   Antonio got 2nd, losing a very close final on points.  It probably should have gone the other way though.  He passed to mount at one point, but the guy was still spazzing, even though he was passed for probably 8 seconds, he didn't get any points.  I don't know if he got the advantages even for it.   That ref was pretty on top of things for most of the day, so maybe he saw something we didn't from the stands.  Andy also won his division.  I didn't see much of his fights, but what I did see, he was pretty dominate!

Also local guys, Alesandro got silver in his division,   and Scott Bacon won his division.  I didn't see a lot of their matches, but the bits I did, they looked great! Jonathan from Open Mat lost to Nihad in the semi's  and got bronze.  He also did the absolute, but I have no idea how that went.   Also competing from the area was Eric Phan, but I don't know how he did,  and Oscar DeWitt, who had a bit of a rough day.

So, I think that is enough about that...

This weekend We are in Montreal for the Grappling Industries event.  I've got 2 girls in my division :)   Looking forward to rolling with Sissi again,  She dominated this tournament last time around so it should be a great matchup!   There is one other girl, who I don't know, so that'll be fun to,

In 2 weeks is the Ontario Open, where I will make my middle weight debut!  I'm about 1.5 lbs over right now, but it shouldn't be any problem to make by then.  I'm hoping there is someone in my division to fight and it hasn't all been for nothing.  I am doing middle at worlds to, so I guess it's good to be there before hand anyway.   Speaking of worlds.... Jon and I are heading to Costa Mesa  /  Long Beach March 24th - June 2nd!  It's going to be amazing!!  We are training at Art of Jiu Jitsu for a few days, then heading to Long Beach to compete at worlds.  Alasdair is also going to be there, he is heading up even earlier and we are flying back together.

Hopefully my blog post about tomorrow doesn't take so long to get up.  It's been a crazy week of working, training, and car shopping and visiting my dad(who is recovering from surgery).

This novel is long enough!   See you on the mats!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Toronto Grappling: Italian Edition April 13th 2013

I just got home from Seneca College after a solid day at Grappling Industries: Italian Edition, where three trips to ROME were given away. Overall the tournament was a complete success. It started around 9:10, scheduled for 9am, so pretty much on time.   We wrapped up the last match around 4:15pm and had all the mats on the skids by 4:30pm. It really is an easy, fast job when there are 20+ people picking the mats up. I'm not sure exactly how many competitors were there today, but I believe gi and nogi combined was about 400. They ran 10 mats and they were pretty steady all day.

Some highlights of the day:

Jon putting 2 guys to sleep, and at least once the ref gave the guy pass/back points before realizing he was in trouble. This is not the first time this has happened, and I am sure it won't be the last. He is very sneaky with them. He also got subbed himself 2 times. I like his style, no f'n around, kill or be killed, it’s fun to watch.

My friend and team mate Brad got his first 2 wins at blue belt today! He's had a rough go at blue belt so far, but it's good to see him getting a few ticks in the win column.   He has won in "intermediate" nogi divisions, but he doesn't count them, for some reason.

Also going 2-2 were Josh and Stephen. I didn't get to watch any of Josh's fights, but he was fighting well and working the things we've been training, which is excellent.   It's good to see Stephen winning to, He's had a lot of stuff to adjust to, moving from the east coast, new training partners, new style, new home, new job, working nights.   All that crap will take anyone a while to adjust to and I'm so happy to see that he's getting there!

I wasn't the only female referee!! My friend Quincy was working today as well! She's a pretty new ref but from what I saw, she did a great job! It's nice to have some more estrogen on the team. There is far too much testosterone in bjj in general, and the refereeing side of things is no different, if not even worse.

As a referee today, I had the pleasure to ref a lot of great matches. The blue -168 gi division was pretty stacked and there was a lot of great finishes. I also got to ref 2 purple/brown divisions in gi, as well as the feather weight nogi advanced. These were all very exciting matches and It was great to test my skills as a referee. I know in one of the matches, I had a brain fart, and gave 3 for a sweep, but it dawned on me almost right away and I fixed it.

I also had the worst experience of my referee "career" today. In a blue belt match, the competitor was in a triangle and stood up. He eventually set him back down mostly nicely, about an inch or two of the ground before he wasn't holding the guys weight anymore. Then, shortly after, he stood up in a triangle again, this time, after a few seconds he slams the guy down. I immediately call parou and get ready to dq for the slam. The fighter goes on a cursing rampage, saying it's f'n bullshit, if I am going to be an f'n women about refereeing, blah blah blah, I stopped listening. If he wasn't already going to be dq'ed for the slam, he was after that. This kind of behavior is NOT appropriate for jiu jitsu. It doesn't matter if you disagree with the call, you can NEVER have outbursts like this. His coach and friends were also yelling and cursing,   also completely inappropriate and disrespectful.

This really soured what was a great day of jiu jitsu. Overall all the competitors were very respectful to the tournament staff, referees and each other. I saw so much good sportsmanship and class throughout the day. That is what the sport is about and it pains me to see such poor behavior from experienced competitors and coaches.

Anyway, enough about that, let’s talk about the trips to Rome!

The trips to Rome were award to the following winners:

Gi - Purple/Brown Absolute: Amir Yafawi won this division. He was on fire today and was pretty dominant. This is the 3rd trip he was won from Grappling Industries!!

NOGI - Advanced -168 absolute. Arther Chandramohan won this. Arther has the most ridiculous ankle locks on the planet. I never want to fight him. He won a bunch of fights with ankle locks, a triangle, and in the absolute he won on points/advantages. The absolute matches were all very close and very exciting to watch.

NOGI - Advanced +168 absolute. Jon-Taine Hall won this trip. Jon-Taine hit at least one ankle lock today, and won his absolute matches on points. He scored early in both matches and weathered a storm at the end of both as well.

Grappling Industries is constantly stepping up their game. This events improvement was the introduction of the belts and wristbands to help keep the fighters apart. This is something I've been harping on them since the first event I attended and I am glad they've added them. It makes the referee’s job much easier, and it helps the score keepers, and spectators as well.

I would really like to see them have bigger mat areas. They are too small, and it causes a lot of trouble with going out of bounds, having to stop and move the fighters and safety concerns when enthusiastic double legs go all the way across to the far edge of the neighboring mats. This happens at a lot of tournaments, but it is definitely more prevalent at Grappling Industries. I always recommend this, and I know there are logistic reasons for the smaller fight areas, but I think it needs to be made a priority. The other thing they need is noise makers or score boards that have a bell. The referee should not have to watch the clock to know when the time is up and a gymnasium is too loud to count on the score keepers to be heard.

Coming up Next:

New York Open: Next weekend, a car load of folks from Pura are heading down to NYC to compete at the New York Open. Brad, Steve, Alasdair and I are competing, and Jon is taking up space in the car and hotel. We are driving down Thursday night after everyone is done work, so we have Friday to recover from the drive and maybe see Times Square. Then we compete Saturday, and drive home Sunday.

Montreal Grappling: April 28th. This is on a Sunday this time, which is kind of nice. It means we don't have to take Friday, or 1/2 day to drive up, or get there super late. It does mean we will be getting home really late Sunday night, and having to get up early for work Monday might be a bit rough. Coming on this trip are Josh, Stephen, and Jon. Hopefully there will be someone to compete against for me. Whatever.

Ontario Open: May 11th and 12th. The biggest and toughest tournament in Ontario and the biggest tournament in Canada. This event is going to be Epic. I'll be making my middleweight debut (hopefully haha) and fighting in the absolute in hopes of winning a trip to worlds. Hopefully we get a really big team out from Pura for this.

Grapplers Quest and Fila May 25 and 26th. Grappler's Quest is giving trips to Las Vegas for their purple+ and advanced absolutes, so you know where I will be on Saturday. I have yet to win a trip to anything and I am going to keep trying until I do, and then keep trying some more haha. Fila is on Sunday and it is a qualifier for the Fila worlds in London later in the summer. Fila is weird, but hey, it sounds like fun.

Worlds aka Mundials May 24th - June 2nd. That's right. We are going to California!!! We are going a few days early and training at Art of Jiu Jitsu for a couple days before the tournament. I am so jealous of Alasdair, who is going up 5 days earlier than we are. He makes so many sacrifices to do jiu jitsu full time and I really admire that. Stephen is also planning on heading to California, and Jon says he will fight as well. Should be a lot of fun.

There are even more tournaments this summer, but I think that is enough to talk about for now. I'm going to watch the TUF Finale now, so I will see you on the mats!