Chapter 7

21 Oct

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Part 2: Tournament Fighter

The weeks came and went; I learned various techniques, and sparred against the instructor, or my friend. Since we both started at roughly the same time (2 week discrepancy), our matches were usually pretty good. What’s more is, he awards us stripes on our white belts sporadically; we feel proud of our zebra belts. At around, I would guess, the 4th month, he tells us to wait after class. We stand around, kicking at the mats, when he brings in yellow belts. Yes, we had been promoted out of the blue. He told us he didn’t believe in testing, and just awarded them whenever he thought we deserved them. I was a little put off by the fact that it could be years before I got promoted and I wouldn’t know, but I wasn’t going to complain about a freakin’ yellow belt.

He explains that the belt system in BJJ is a little weird. Adults go White > Blue > Purple > Brown > Black, with stripes in between. However, since we were both under 16, we had to go White>Yellow>Orange>Green>Blue>Purple>Brown>Black, and we could only get blue when we turned 16. This sucked, hard, but I would continue my quest. I had come to love Jiu Jitsu, despite it’s homoerotic vibes, and wanted to pursue the elusive black belt. Until then, I had to train.

One fateful day, about 6 months after I had started, the instructor shows up his usual 15 minutes late with big news. He tells us that there is going to be a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament called “Smackdown at H-Town”, and that we both should go. I’m a little nervous; recalling my previous tournament experiences, well, I expect massive amounts of bullshit. He tells us all we do is spar up there just like we do in class, and that the winners get not only a gigantic trophy, but a motorized scooter. Show me a 13 year old boy who wouldn’t want one of those, and I’ll show you a girl with a boy’s haircut.

I ask him at the end of that class if there’s anything I should do to get prepared, like running, etc. He replies, “Nah, not really. Your stamina gets built up pretty good from sparring; best way to get ready for jiu jitsu is by doing jiu jitsu!” I am not one to question his methods. For some reason, this idea of not doing anything outside of class gets embedded into my brain until I start Boxing.

The entry fee is a whopping 100 bucks. My little brother has decided not to compete out of nervousness and feeling unprepared. For a 6 year old, he was smart (He had a birthday during the 6 months). I am entering the junior devision, which is separated by a bunch of different weight classes that I don’t really know or care about. I just want to spar.

I step on the scale; 180 pounds. I am pretty shocked. Shocked because I had just made it into the 183-170something range! I was at the top of the weight class, and was going to molest everyone else.

We’re informed it’s double elmination. I don’t really care, because my stomach feels like I ate razorblades coated with acid. I’m extremely nervous, and want to get it over with.

The check in was at 8 in the morning; I finally get to spar at roughly 12. My ass is sore, and my legs have unstretched themselves. Those agonizing four hours were rough on my nerves, and I’m ready to roll. I step onto the mat; my opponent does as well. Oh what luck and joy! He’s a white belt! I am not only going to school him, I’m going to win that damn scooter!

The match begins. We both circle each other, sizing each other up. He shoots, and I sprawl. He does some form of extremely quick madness, and suddenly I’m on the ground. Crap. “Two points!” He’s in my guard; trouble is in store for him.

Or at least that’s what I expected. I had a pretty decent guard; mostly because that’s all the instructor ever taught. During sparring, our instructor would pull guard and tell us to try and pass; during class he’d focus mainly on guard sweeps and attacks. Passing the guard drills and elbow escaping were numerous. If anything, I was comfortable on my back.

Except he’s not buding. He has turtled up, and won’t try and pass. I can’t sweep, I can’t armbar, I can’t triangle, I can’t anything. I try a few crappy chokes, but he’s grabbing his own collar.

“Fine then, I’ll just get up”, I think to myself. He has other plans, as he quickly scooches back into my guard. This continues for the remainder of the time and I lose. The final score is 0-2.

It’s ok though. I’ve still got another match; it’s double elmination, so as long as I win the next fight, I’ll be sitting pretty.

My friend loses as well, to a man who employs many dirty tricks, including pulling fingers when nobody is looking. I will refer to him as “Finger breaker”. He comes from the same school as the man I fought, but has recognizably more skill. They both wear whitebelts.

I wait for my next match, which is at 2 pm. I step onto the mat, and glare at my opponent. To my surprise, it is my friend! Yes, of all people, I must spar him. Our instructor sits quietly, not asking if we can have different partners.

The match starts, and it is back and forth. One of us will guard sweep the other, and then due to our lack of mount experience, quickly get elbowescaped on into the other person’s guard. This goes back and forth the entire match. Luckily the clock and points are prominently displayed, and I see I’m down by 2 with 12 seconds left. I’m freaking out, because I’m in his guard. I’ve been trying to Gracie Gift, but it isn’t working. Screw the gracie gift! I jam my hands into his gut, and push him away. I think this caught him by surprise and knocked the air out of him, because he unlocked his legs. I scuttle around him, and grab a side mount. I get 3 points for a guard pass, timer goes, and I win. He’s a little pissy, but I don’t really care. I got the win. I’m the winner, see my prize, you’re the loser who sits and cries!

My next match it at 4, near the end of the tournament. It’s against a 17 year old! I heard him arguing to get into the kids division, and I guess they let him in. I’m not looking forward to this. He is only a white belt; how bad can it be?

The match starts, I grab his sleeves, and he pulls guard. This is working out well. Almost too well! I cautiously begin to Gracie Gift my way out of his guard, and bam! He throws a triangle on me. I look to my corner for support, and my instructor is screaming “PASS PASS PASS!” I stack him to try and pass, then he suddently switches to an armbar! I have no choice, I have to tap. I tap, match over. No win. I did, however, get a third place trophy, as did my friend. The tournament ends with 17 year old versus Finger Breaker; Finger breaker wins the trophy, the scooter, and my dignity.

I’m a little pissed off when I go to the next BJJ class. The inadequate guard pass, the lack of non-guard position instruction, I wasn’t happy. I get in there, about to give the instructor a piece of my mind, when he says to me, “You did great. As a reward, I think you’re ready for the Advanced Kids. Here’s two stripes for your yellowbelt.” Holy shit. This is awesome.

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