One of my goals was to compete often. Unfortunately on that goal I fell a bit short. It wasn’t intended, but I was focused on other things and it was easy to just say “I’ll do the next tournament.” Well this last week I got back on the mat to compete in the AlfaBarra Submission and BJJ Tournament in Rio.
This post was written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He blogs weekly on life and training BJJ, wrestling and MMA in Rio de Janeiro. This is an excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”. Click the link to read the full post.
I decided to compete on short notice and got my registration done on Tuesday (which was surprisingly easy to do). The week was filled with a ton of training, a lot of live rolling nogi and drilling in the kimono. I made sure to not only drill the techniques that I use often, but also drill positions that I was not comfortable in such as escaping back, or working so escape/reverse from side control.On Wednesday (which was a Brazilian holiday) a large group of us in the house decided to get some good gi training in on the house mats. In my second roll, my partner tried to take my back launched into a deep choke using his kimono. I felt comfortable and was defending, then next thing I know I was back at home in Michigan dreaming of being out in the woods…..then suddenly I was back on the CR mats with a group of guys standing around me. I asked what happened and they told me I got put to sleep. I laughed, fixed my kimono and continued the roll.
Soon enough the week of training ended and the tournament arrived. For the submission category white and blues were together and purple, brown, and black belts were lumped into another category. There were seven guys in my weight, so in order to win it all I had to win three matches.
In my first match, against a long and lanky opponent I locked up a body lock and took him down about a minute into the match. The rest of the match I played top and worked to pass. I bypassed his guard several times but my opponent was able to keep me from stabilizing the position, preventing my from scoring. In the end I won the fight 2-0. I didn’t grapple bad, but I just didn’t feel like myself in the roll.
My next matched was much the same I had a couple of takedowns, and I few good scrambles but I just couldn’t seem to get in my rhythm. I had a chance to watch my opponent for the finals, he played a good top game, but also had some great sweeps from bottom and overall seemed comfortable where ever the match went.
As I started to warm up for my match I felt more relaxed, and started to remember my old pre-match rituals and warm up. I step out onto the mat feeling good, relaxed and ready to go. I quickly hit an elbow post to a double leg takedown right into the pass. I controlled the position and started to set up a cross side arm bar and then switched to a kimura attempt. He defended and tried to escape with a low single. I saw the opening and locked up a tight anaconda choke. I pressured the choke and felt him tap. The ref was on the other side and didn’t see the tap, so I kept the lock (slightly lessening the pressure) and told the ref he tapped to which my opponent said he didn’t. So I really really put the choke on, felt him tap again and waited or the ref to say stop. I finally felt like I hit my groove and rolled how I should have.
The Gi Division
I waited for about four hours, cheering on my friends, until it was time to compete in the gi. My opponent quickly got his grips and jumped guard, hitting a sweep before I could set my base. To make matters worse in a scramble he got one hook in and locked in a rear naked choke. As I defended he got the other hook in scoring more. My main concern was the choke though, I defended as he squeezed, tried to improve the lock and then squeezed again. I kept defending, escaped the choke and escaped to my feet, as he stood I hit a lapel drag and attempted a back take, I scored a takedown but he was able to secure bottom half, the rest of the match was me, working to pass and score and him defending, blocking, and stalling with the lead. In the end I came up short.
I was not happy (honestly as I am writing this I can feel the fire in my gut). Look, my opponent was good, he went on to win the division in a very dominating manner; but I didn’t perform my best and I feel that if I had things would have gone differently. Afterward the match I threw on my shorts and went for a run down the beach analyzing my match as I ran… I came out slow and let him play his game instead of imposing mine. That’s what pissed me off the most. I know I won a gold medal and I hit some new techniques I have been working on, but man finishing off the day with a loss leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
How I feel after the competition
It felt great to compete again though, to break off the rust and enjoy the feeling of winning, be pissed about the losses, and feel that overall rush of competition. I am ready to embrace training with a renewed vigor and purpose. Any stagnation I may have felt is gone and my motivation is stronger than ever. I can’t wait to start get back on the mat and continue on my journey.
I would like to say thank you to my sponsors Connection Rio and Senki Kimonos. Senki has been providing me with great kimonos and other training gear, and I am proud to represent such a great company. Also without the help of CR and Dennis Asche both on and off the mat, our (Nicole and I’s) Brazilian adventure would have been much more difficult. Also I would like to say thank you to Professor John Machado, for allowing me to represent his team (RCJ Machado) in competition. I am thankful for the opportunity and look forward to representing the academy and my sponsors in future competitions.