Gi – Gold
No Gi – Gold
This post has taken me a while to write. I’m usually excited to recapp my events while they’re fresh in my mind, but something has been holding me back this time. In retrospect I think it’s because my feelings are completely split down the middle. Half happy, half frustrated. It’s a difficult feeling to express, but here goes nothing. Let’s start with why I’m frustrated.
Part 1. I’m annoyed because I didn’t win on skill.
I was physically stronger than my opponents, but their technique was better. That means that if we were matched in strength, I probably would have lost. On one hand this make me feel like my win wasn’t deserved. On the other hand, I’ve spend a lot of time lifting heavy stuff, so I’m strong because I work damn hard to be strong. Lifting heavy can be gruelling and hard to recover from, but it makes your whole body more powerful. I go back and forth on this one, feeling split once again.
I’m also annoyed because all the things that made the day challenging were things that have been told to me, repeatedly. My coach has told me over and over that I need to learn more submissions. I honestly thought that I had. I was sure I knew a few well and would have a couple of go-to weapons when the time came.
As it turns out, I was only comfortable setting up one. I had a total of nine fights, with five submissions and four draws. I used my single move three times. The other two submissions were more intuitive—knowing what would hurt and doing it. AKA not pretty.
My experienced teammates gave me a few key tips:
- Slow down and breath.
- If one thing doesn’t work, change to the next. Don’t just keep trying the same move.
- Careful of your forearms, you can burn them out in just a few minutes.
- It’s going to be a long day.
It took me all of three minutes in my first match to confirm everything my teammates had told me. I went all out and just couldn’t make anything happen. I tried a collar choke the entire time until my arms froze over. It ended in a draw, but it shouldn’t have.
As for the length of the day, I could write a whole post on just that. Let’s just say we showed up at 9:30am and my no gi fight was at 6:30pm. They weren’t kidding. I totally underestimated what ‘long day’ meant.
Part 2 – I’m pumped because there was improvement during the day
The only match of the day I was really pumped about was the no gi match. My opponent was a 16 year old that was supposed to be in the advanced group, but there wasn’t enough girls. I was the only girl to submit her and she was big and strong too. This was the only match in which I slowed down to breath. I tried to read her movement and set up moves, using timed bursts of energy. This was the match I broke my toes in and I actually think it worked in my favour. I tried to get to the other side of her body and I landed on my foot straight down. My outside two toes just broke straight sideways. I ended up in side control with her in a choke, but I could see my two toes flailing off to the side. I knew there was about a minute left and that if I had to use that foot, I’d have to tape the toes back first so I couldn’t really move. At this point I finally remembered what people had said about slowing down and moving inch by inch. Every time she exhaled I tightened my grip a little harder and leaned my shoulder a little more into her face. I wasn’t going to blow my energy holding on as tight as I could, I just kept my weight steady on her chest and squeezed a little tighter and a little tighter. I wasn’t sure it was going to work but with about 10 seconds left she finally taped. I was SO PUMPED.
Andy taped my toes to my foot before my last two more matches. I knew I just needed one submission and one draw to guarantee gold. I really think the foot made me slow down again and use my head a bit more. I submitted the next girl too. At this point my foot was really starting to hurt so I went in for a draw. I hate to do that but it wasn’t worth hurting them more. Luckily she kept pulling guard, so I just got up and walked away a few times to buy time.
Overall I’m happy with the experience, but I’ll need another shot at one of these tournaments. There is one in March of next year, so that will give me ample time to get a good technical base and hopefully even stronger. Those in combination with fewer rookie mistakes and I feel good about a more satisfying outcome.