Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tennessee State BJJ Championships

Yesterday our school headed down to Maryville for the annual TN State BJJ champs.  It's a pretty local tournament, and luckily not even a half hour away, so a lot of our guys (and some of our kids) were competing.  Unfortunately, none of our women were (vet school, injuries, etc.), but I was still looking forward to seeing what my competition would have been if I could have competed.  My boyfriend Ian was also competing, for the first time (and as a blue about nerve-wracking).

I totally meant to go to the women's class before going to Maryville, but of course I totally overslept and woke up right after it started.  Later I found out Jess was the only one who showed up anyways, so while I didn't feel quite so guilty, I was annoyed that I missed an hour of rolling with her.

The kids' matches were still going on by the time I got there, and let me just say--damn.  Some of those kids are effin' amazing.  Yeah, there was a bit of silliness going on, but it always amazes me at what you can teach them and how well they can learn.  I saw one kid pull off a sweet uchimata.  And for the most part, they were all really good sports, along with their parents.  I know I shouldn't care so much, but it made my heart glow a little every time I saw a little girl win against boys, and I really hope that most of them stay with it.

The women got started while the kids were still going, and I was impressed at the number of white belts competing.  I couldn't really figure out how many weight classes they ended up with, but it seemed like everyone had at least one match (most had more) against someone close to their own weight.  It wasn't quite as large as the NAGA I went to in Atlanta, but I wouldn't have expected it to be anyways.  The blue belt division, unfortunately, was quite a bit smaller--for gi, there were only three girls, and two of them from the same school, so they had to go against each other.  One of them was Shakia, who I didn't even realize was there until she was fighting.  I saw her, and I was like, "Hey--that looks a lot like Shakia Harris!"  I'll let her talk about the match (if she wants to), but I will say that she did really well.  Her opponent had a lot of weight (and four stripes) on her, and it was a very solid, technical match, as opposed to a lot of the women's white belt matches--five minutes of whirling fury that honestly made me hope they don't get promoted and enter my division any time soon! 

At 1, they cleared the mats and had the black belt superfights.  Two of them involved my coaches, Mike Horihan (against Dave Vannest) and John Hosford (against Tommy Wales).  The third was Brandon Bledsoe vs. Adam Arebalo.  Mike, fresh off a successful black belt test, went first.

 Unfortunately he lost by one advantage.  I was behind the scoring table, so I couldn't see where Vannest got the extra advantage.  Brandon and Adam were next, so I took the opportunity to move to the other side of the gym so I could actually see the time left and score.  John went last, and won by three points.  Later, he told us he had been studying videos of this guy for months, and saw that no one could pass his half guard.  When he found himself stuck in that position, he decided to get in Tommy's full guard and pass that instead.

Once they were done, the men's gi matches resumed and Ian finally got to fight.  He lost his first match to some guy who was like two feet taller than him, but came out with his head held high.  His second match went better, and he defended well.  Unfortunately, he lost that one too, but I'm glad he gave it a try.  He's really not the competing kind of guy, and that's ok--it means that I'll always have someone to support me on the sidelines, who doesn't have to run off to his own matches!

We had success with the rest of our men's team as well--we went home with another two golds and two silvers that I can remember.  I wish we had a women's team, but hopefully we can get something together by the next tournament (and maybe I'll have a mildly lighter schedule).  While it seemed like there were quite a few open rings towards the second half of the day, when there were still plenty of matches left, overall I think this tournament went pretty well.  BJJ tourneys have gotten such a bad rep for being disorganized and running late that any kind of improvement is a huge step up, and I'm pretty sure our guys were done by five.  Honestly, it would have just seemed longer that it actually was because my butt was getting so sore from sitting on bleachers. 

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