It has been over three months since I’ve got my blog on. The truth being, I was afraid since arriving back from Rio it was turning into your standard egotistical ‘celebrate of me’ fest, rather than cross cultural musings interwined with a lttle Jiu-Jitsu business. The last few months, has seen me continue to train & teach Jiu-Jitsu full-time in addition to working (a minimum) on that classroom teacher tip to earn the necessary money to eat and travel. Whilst that isn’t particularly newsworthy, I have also had some pretty freaking awesome experiences with trips to Ireland, Portugal, Germany, as well as being sponsored and having the opportunity to kick it with another of my heroes. So what you are reading is a brief breakdown in two parts of what has been going down, which is undoubtedly egotistic and may or may not interest you at all!
My 2014 was capped off with a trip to Ireland to see all my dudes from East Coast and Satori Jiu-Jitsu which are two ridiculously dope academies that I would highly recommend if your heading to the Emerald Isle. As well as doing a spot of teaching (Deep Half!) & competing at the Dublin International Open. The competition itself, which in-fact was the beginning of the ‘things that sucked’ I eluded to in the title. I lost in the first round in my weight category after being matched with my homeslice Chris Leddy from East Coast. In what was a good fight, I ended up losing to the better man 4-2. In the open weight I fought against a dude called Max Lindblad who won the European Championships the past January at purple belt and just won double gold the week prior to qualify for the World Pro in Abu Dhabi for a second time. It probably would have been better not knowing this info, I didn’t have much hope and my mind-set was not to get horribly abused, which isn’t the most positive or useful outlook! It took him 5 and a half minutes to pass my guard and 6 to choke me out, which after the beating he had been putting on other cats this was a minor achievement! Whilst it is not a profound insight, it is still fair to say that losing does suck more than anything that has ever sucked before.
This trip did allow me to make a decision which initially seemed like a really dumb-ass thing to do and quickly became abundantly clear that it was up there with the worst decisions I’d ever made. My bro, Eoghan had spent a good couple of days giving me the hard sell on the benefits of ‘taking in the Irish sea’ aka swimming in some painstakingly cold water which he courageously did multiple times per week. Baring in mind it was mid-December and cold as fuck. Against my better judgement, I stood on the side of the wall wearing only my tiny vale tudo shorts, ready to make my entrance into the bitterly cold ocean, I couldn’t remember a time where I wanted to do anything less. I was instructed to lower myself into the water slowly, to acclimatise to the temperature but in my infinite wisdom I thought ‘lets just get this shit over with’ and I jumped straight in. I was fine for about 2 seconds and had even began to swim, when uncontrollably, from somewhere buried deep inside me, I began to make this weird sound and the intense thought of death by cold permeated my consciousness. When I began to scream that I was dying at the top of my lungs, a large gentleman who had just informed me that he’d only managed ten minutes today after doing a half hour the week before, rushed to the edge to ensure I was not in-fact about to perish. The whole experience, which I think lasted about fifteen seconds, ten of those were attempting to scramble out, my genitals literally retreated with the speed of The Flash and remained in hiding for what seemed like hours. I felt thoroughly traumatised, irrespective of benefits this could possibly produce it most definitely sucked.
New year with new goals, aspirations, hopes and all of that sort of business, with that in mind at the end of January, I made my first and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to capture a European gold medal. I flew out to Lisbon on the Thursday to compete on the Friday, at this point I was still overweight. Unable to really eat at the airport I made a slight miscalculation with the number of black coffees consumed pre-flight at Starbucks to console my aching stomach. This turned out to be a serious error of judgement. Initially at the beginning of the flight, I felt like I’d been uppercut with energy and had the urge to strut up and down the aisle like The Nature Boy. But towards the end of journey this had developed into genuine concern that I was having heart palpitations which finally descended even further into an intense anxiety that I was having full blown heart attack! Even worse somewhere in this hazy, caffeine infused chaos, I managed to ‘misplace’ the entirety of my Euros, working on my shoestring budget this really sucked ass.
Everything was pretty much delish about the experience of the Europeans. Kicking it with friends from all over the world and competing at what was the most well attended competition of all time with 3,400 registered competitors. I had competed at the Tijuca Tennis Clube so I was used to big comps but this was next level with thousands of people in attendance. Seeing Mestre Terere and having him there to corner me for my first match was awesome – although after losing in my second I did wonder where he had got to. Whilst sulking over my loss with overpriced and substandard acai the dude reappeared complete with a hot ass chick by his side which solved that mystery! Whilst in Rio, I remember being genuinely shocked when I was told that black belts have their own groupies, there were chicks that visited the academy with the obvious intentions of getting some of that black belt, world champ based loving.
The rest of the trip was dope as hell, myself and all the homies from East Coast Jiu-Jitsu were welcomed with open arms at Gracie Barra Lisbon. Although during the sweet session there I did have an unwanted & unusual encounter on the mats. I was unfortunate enough to meet and roll with fellow purple belt competitor from England. This particular phallic shaped appendage complained in a snotty and offensive manner to just about everything during our round from grips, to having his foot trodden on, to God forbid his own Gi coming over his head. There are those who preach that Jiu-Jitsu eliminates the dicks but based on this experience, I theorise that it can actually be a penis enlarger and has the potential to turn an already large penis into a John Holmes monster cock.
To round things off that sucked, I am forced to do the whole complain about the IBJJF and their standard of refereeing. Now this topic has been heavily covered and I also can appreciate the difficulty of the job that these hardworking peoples have to do. I have no idea how much these cats are paid by the IBJJF but my friend just worked a 13 hour day at the Munich Open, manning the scoreboard to receive a grand total of 60 Euros – which is some serious slave labour by an organisation that is making mad dough.
In two back to back competitions, The Europeans and The London Winter Open I came away with two bad refereeing decisions which ultimately cost me my matches. In my second fight at the Euros, after being on bottom and hitting a foot-lock attempt I was given an advantage but then my coming up to a top position was completely ignored, I ended up losing the match by two points. Whilst in the London Open, in my first match I conceded an early advantage and spent the bulk of the match on bottom fighting to sweep. I had multiple sweep attempts which put my opponent on the mat before he was able to get up before me, one foot-lock attempt before managing to get to the top just as the time ran out to be awarded a sole advantage. I appreciated the subjective nature of advantage points but I did enough to win, the referee in question was obviously new to the role after having to confer with a senior official about my late advantage, I was invariably beaten by the inexperience of the official.
Losing to a superior opponent is one thing but when you pay £70 and more to compete at an IBJJF event and you lose due human error outside your control it sucks so much more. These are not solely the complaints of a bitter loser, even in victory I fell victim to mistakes. During the final of the No-Gi Open in Munich, I failed to be awarded two points after initiating a take-down and my opponent pulled guard. Fortunately this played no part in the outcome but it could of been two points which cost me the gold medal. I have been advised to look towards the official due to the illegality of actually communicating with them when you know you have scored points or advantages to ensure it is recognised. However I fail to see why mid-match, I should have the responsibility to concentrate on anything other than my opponent. This isn’t to say that all refereeing sucks, quite the opposite, there are some awesome officials BUT something needs to be done to ensure that there is complete uniformity across the board in applying rules, points and advantages.
Part 2 coming with things that have been awesome!
This week I have my coach and friend, BJJ Black Belt, UFC Veteran and all around kick-ass individual Danny ‘Cheesecake Assassin’ Mitchell dropping some half guard based, No-Gi Jewels
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