Archive for April, 2013

First Competition of 2013

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

So yesterday I competed in the Copa Nova Grappling Championship, spring 2013 edition. It was a great day and many revelations came to me.

A little background:

-I am 205lbs right now with an awesome teddy bear stomach. With proper dieting I could easily get into the 175 range for my height and build.

-I have a very relaxed, “possum” like game. I enjoy letting my opponents wear themselves down dealing with my defense and then waiting for an opening and reversing the roles. I never try and brute force or burst out of anything. I’m like the anti-wrestler.

-I was around 243lbs at one point before BJJ, and despite losing a fair bit of weight, I can’t push the pace non-stop like a lot of other guys, my cardio is pitiful, so that’s why I implement my before-mentioned possum game.

-When it comes to competing, I’m very relaxed. I don’t really care if I lose or not. This both helps me if I do lose, but also probably contributes to me losing in the first place.

With that said, none of these things contribute to a successful competitor. I am not Caio Terra and I can’t usurp 230 pound guys who have cut weight to the 220 pound bracket I competed in at 205.

I could diet for sure, but BJJ is a part of my life, not my whole life, and I love going out and eating delicious meals with my family and friends. Like this:

photo (9) koreanbbq photo (8)

I’m a glutton, I know this.

Ok Dan, so you’re fat and have shit cardio, then why did you compete?

Why I Competed (and why you should too)

The first reason, was because my instructors said they wanted as many people to come out there to compete as possible, regardless if it’s your first day training, or if you’re a seasoned vet. When they talk, I listen.

Secondly, it’s a very important step in BJJ to compete mentally  There’s not a single person who leaves those mats without a million thoughts running through their head. Those thoughts are pieces to a valuable lesson. It’s simply important to know how to interpret those thoughts. Competing more often will help you overcome the less valuable thoughts like “I lost because I’m not as good as that guy” and replace them with “I need to figure out a way to stop him from passing my spider guard”, they are both relative to you losing, but one of those thoughts is the beginning of you solving a problem. The greatest BJJ practitioners are the best problem solvers in the game. They confront challenges with a hypothesis and solve the challenge in a scientific manner. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and as someone who helps Kids classes at my gym I can tell you, most kids are excellent at  doing this. They are curious, inquisitive and excellent at figuring out ways to solve a problem. A lot of adults get frustrated and never come around to realizing the way they are handling their losses is what is damning them.

A third reason was that I did want to challenge myself by going against bigger guys and see if I could beat them with my game plan. A game plan is a necessity in competing and only through competing will you be able find out if yours works and if you can even implement it all. The best BJJ practitioners in the world force you to play their game. The more you compete, the more comfortable you will be. You’ll have less anxiety and will be able to implement your game much better.

A fourth reason was that I wanted to support my team. Just going and cheering on the sidelines is great stuff, but by competing you increase your academies chances of placing in the Team category. It’s great to show everyone that your team brings it when we go to tournaments. (We bring it btw).

A final fifth reason (less of a “why I competed” and more of a “glad I did”) was something I didn’t think of until I was actually there at the tournament and had already lost in my NOGI division. A lot of the kids from our academy were there and a lot of them dominated, but a couple were just short of getting a medal. At a young age it can be difficult to take a loss, and I remember when I was younger always being inspired by role models. I got to talk to a few of the younger competitors and tell them how awesome they did anyway and say “Hey bud, I didn’t win my matches, but I tried just like you, and you did way better against your opponent than I did mine, you’re still a beast”. It’s small but I think it helps them seeing the big ole’ adults that they look up to being calm and it helps them learn to take a lose a little easier. When adults throw tantrums after losing their matches it sets a poor example for the people below them. The laid back attitude I have towards competing helps me not get emotional about losses, despite it also making me more inclined to lose. A catch 22 if there ever was one.

How the Tournament itself was run:

A brief background: The Copa Nova Grappling Championships is the biggest grappling tournament numbers wise in the immediate DC area (it usually takes place at Briarwood Highschool in Ashford), Virginia. It doesn’t have a strong brown or black belt showing, likely because they don’t have them compete first before they get all stressed out from coaching, but in regards to kids, teens, white and blue belts they usually have a fair showing. I compared my bracket last year to the Tampa IBJJF International Open and the white belt and blue belt brackets were similarly sized. A lot of lower level local competitors who don’t travel for tournaments compete here and here alone.

The tournament was actually pretty timely since the last time I competed at the same organization  in late 2012. Although I did work a scoring table then and it probably contributed to me feeling as if the event was in slight disarray, I still think there’s some truth to it. Last time I was there individual weight classes were still going on when they called for the Absolute competitors to start and it was pretty hectic.

I was running all over the place to film and take pictures for my academy but still was able to notice that people weren’t running around like crazy and that time wise everything seemed to go smoothly. So good on them for seemingly getting it together and improving so much. Some of the referring was inconsistent; some people were allowed to wear rashguards under the gi, while others weren’t, some were allowed to wear spats while others weren’t. Despite not being allowed to wear my Scramble spats, I saw other people wearing them and one guy was even allowed to wear Gi pants. I was witness to some bad points calls as well, but it all happens every where of course. There was some, what seemed to be, 12 year olds running some of the scoring tables, which seemed a bit odd to me. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised with how this tournament has improved in its organization.

They open up a snack stand where they sell drinks and Dominos Pizza that they order in (unfortunately no gluten free options for myself  *shakes fist*).

How my Matches went:

I weighed in at 205lbs at home and weighed in with all my cloths, hoody and gear bag full of camera equipment, food, gis and change of cloths at 214lbs at the tournament lol I knew I had some room to spare so wasn’t worried about making weight obviously.

Nogi 195-220lb Intermediate:

Match 1: I went in for a seemingly nice double leg but lost my focus and wasn’t able keep my head up. The gentleman sprawled and I went into half guard. From there I worked a couple different sweeps and eventually came out to full guard. I almost got him with the scissor/simple sweep but he was able to get back up and put me back into half-guard, so I only scored an advantage. From here he tried to Kimura me where he received an advantage. I never felt threatened by the Kimura, but it did take some time working my way out of it. I tried getting to deep half, but he had good heavy hips and wasn’t able to get anything going. He won 2 advantages to 1 and I’m not sure when he got the other advantage. Result: Loss

Gi 195-220lb Blue Belt:

I got a bye my first round which allowed me to make it to the Semi-Finals. My coach David “Rock” Jacobs told me before my Gi matches he wanted to see me just keep pushing and not give up.

Match 1: I faced a guy I dubbed “blue belt Buchecha” while I was there because he was huge and explosive heh. I was able to watch his prior matches so I decided that I would go for the takedown again. For the life of me I could not break his grip on my collar, he seemed pretty content with just pulling me around the mat so I eventually pulled closed guard. He popped out of my guard like it was butter and went right into my half guard where we stayed for a 90% of the match. I tried listening to my coach Sam Kim and was able to almost pull off the basic half guard sweep where you grab the far knee and drive, but got flattened back out. He was much better than the first guy I faced in NOGI and definitely had better pressure. Most of the match was me looking to make space. He pulled out of halfguard directly to mount and earned mount points. He tried to put me in a sloppy armbar that I easily escaped from and managed to get back to full guard (I was actually hoping he would try a submission sooner as I like waiting for the openings people make with them to escape). He kept his head very close to my chest and his hands low on my waist and despite trying a loop choke from guard (not sure if I got advantage points for it) I wasn’t able to get my hands in the proper spot to secure it. I was able to push straight back out of his control and had an opportunity to sweep but wasn’t able to get it off in the finals seconds. I think the score was 7-0 by the time it was over. Not sure on advantages.  Sometime during the middle of the match my nose and lip got busted open and I was bleeding pretty bad out my nose. Sam kept shouting “You gotta move Dan! You gotta move!” I tried but I was to tired and too pinned down to create space. I felt like I put up a decent effort though considering. Result: Loss

Match 2: The guy was about the same size as my other opponents, he was taller, but looked older and not as gladiator like as the first two gents. He looked just as tired as me and had just as much blood on him as me. This opponent also received a bye and only had one match prior. When we first locked up I could feel that he was very tired so was going to stick with my takedown gameplan after breaking a grip first. Fortunately, he pulled guard on me and I didn’t have to waste energy standing up. The second he pulled guard on me the first thought that ran through my mind was “I have a chance, I can do this”. I really love guard passing and I was able to pass his guard no problem using a basic x pass. I’m a huge fan of leg drags but the x offered itself to me and I took it. I was able to secure north south and despite feeling like I was being an asshole put my belly on his face to help wear him out. Rock was on the sideline helping me out. I have no idea what he was saying most of the match, but just listening for his voice helped slow me down and it also reminded me that I didn’t want to lose the match, at the beginning of the match I felt like I had zero strength or energy left, but near the end felt like I was able to power through. I went for a bread cutter choke (it’s one of my favorites) but I couldn’t get his chin angled the other way. Interestingly, my opponent tried doing an americana on me while I was in top side control which I’ve never had someone do to me.  It left him wide open for me to take mount so I did. From there I tried stabilizing and making sure I got my points. In the past I’ve been to anxious and forget about doing that. I have no idea what I ended up trying on him but somehow I ended up in closed guard. I think I may have looked to take the back from mount at one point and that’s how I slid off to closed guard. Regardless, I swept him from here and got back into side control. He tried the americana again from bottom side control and I went to take mount but got caught in his half guard, although just my foot was stuck. I broke out of the half guard and back into mount and the match ended with me in mount. I think I won 14-4 points, no clue on advantages. No clue on what his points were from or if I missed something I did either. It felt amaze-a-balls not letting my coach down. Result: Win

Copa Nova Spring 2013 - Fairfax Jiu Jitsu 064

Take aways:

I mentioned earlier that I felt like I put up a decent effort in one of my matches all things being considered. Realistically though I did not put up a good effort prior to coming to the tournament and that’s where 95% of the competition is won at. I definitely get to the mat as often as I can for being a guy with a full time job, second job, wife and child (not in order of importance). I refuse to sacrifice more time with my family than I already do for BJJ. It’s a huge part of my life no doubt, but my wife and kids come first. With that being said, I could easily have dieted. No one puts a fork in my mouth but me. I’ve been lean before and know how to diet and exercise. I train 3-4 days a week consistently. I wanted to compete nonchalantly and I did, the above matches were my result. I definitely need to work on forcing the match into where I want it to be, I was never able to get where I wanted to be when I was in guard.

Do I think my BJJ was worse than my opponents? I honestly don’t. The problem was that size DOES matter. Size and skill can make up for each other, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel like I was going up against some Spartans. That is why it’s completely unrealistic to think  you will do good in a competition if you are a chubby slob like me. If you don’t work hard, you will never achieve anything regardless of how talented you may or not be. That’s why I didn’t deserve to win and didn’t win. If you want to be successful at competing, you have to train to compete, at the gym and at the dinner table. I see more of these in my future:

I don’t plan on competing until I can get to a leaner weight where I can truly feel it’s a skill vs skill matchup. I went there to discover some holes, and the biggest gaping hole of them all is my unhealthy size. I’m not the biggest whale out there at 205lbs, but I could definitely get under 185lbs maybe even 175lbs. That extra fat really doesn’t help.

I had an absolute BLAST running around filming and taking pictures of everyone as well as hanging out with my friends from the academy. The next local tournament I plan on just filming and taking pictures so I miss less people.

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I Fucking Love Science

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

I really really do.

I highly recommend checking out their facebook page for constant enlightenment. Today they posted this link which allows you to scroll in and out of the universe just to see how tiny we truly are. It’s amazing.

Well it’s about time I made my own blog. I’m around 15 years behind, but I digress.

Check out the About Dan section to see why I created the blog in the first place.

I am currently working on a collaboration with Strike Fightwear on a Gi I conceptually designed called the “Hoth Gi”:

Strike Fightwear Hoth 004

I’m also getting tattoo’d up by the magician Dustin at Good Times Tattoo in Manassas, VA. The design is inspired by the Shoyoroll Rio Koi design by John Smalls and the TapCancerOut design by artist Meerkatsu of a geisha doing an Omoplata on a demon, around 6 hour in so far: