So yesterday I fulfilled my childhood dream of winning the Kumite. While I hadn’t planned on it being the BJJ Kumite I suppose it will have to do. Considering the fact that the real Kumite from Bloodsport was all bullshit. Fun side note. I used to watch Bloodsport all the time as a kid and I believe it’s influence probably had something to do with me being in the position that I’m in now. I’m not even joking.
Yesterday while at the BJJ Kumite in Murfreesboro Tennessee I decided to keep a sort of minute by minute journal. It catalogs some of the happenings at the tournament, along with some of the weird stuff that floats through my head on the day of competition.
I’m not sure how you are during a competition. But for me at least, when I’m competing my mind has no concept of what’s after the match. Like, on a normal day you can say, “It’s Monday and I’ll do this today and then this on Tuesday and then this on Wednesday.”
When I compete there is no next day. My mind has such laser focus on the immediate, the now, rather than planning for what’s next. Which is how most of us live our lives, right? We are always planning for what’s next. The elimination of what’s next and being in the high stress environment is a interesting mixture.
With that said, let’s move on. Below are all the ramblings from yesterday. The only thing I’ve altered is the spelling and made sure the times had am or pm next to them.
BJJ Kumite Minute-by-Minute (sort of)
We arrive at the venue after having some difficulty finding it. The tournament is taking place behind an ice cream store in a former clothing store. Imagine an abandoned Banana Republic and you have an idea of what it looks like.
As soon as I arrive I being my customary mingling with other competitors and teammates. This is one of the best parts. Seeing old friends.
10:13am – A short rules meeting happens and then the coaches go over arrangement of brackets together.
The time limit is 5 minutes no points and then 5 minutes points. A fault of mine is that I get going and forget to keep track of points. I sort of blank out and get involved with the roll. One of my most recent BJJ tournaments saw me dominate a guy but because I was transitioning too fast from place to place in search of the finish, I lost on points.
So I’ll just go out and try to fire off early like normal.
10:15am – Battle crap #1.
I had debated on whether or not to include this as part of the blog post. But I’ve had newcomers who think there is something wrong with them when they compete for their first time. I call them battle craps because you can read about ancient warriors lining up in formation staring across the battlefield at the enemy as they prepare for battle. And they would have to. . . well. . . you know.
Rules meeting. Nothing unusual.
10:25am – I go back to the car to grab snacks, my gi and mobility equipment. Although it’s funny. My body is already preparing for the fight and I don’t feel any of my nagging injuries like my finger and pulled muscle in my back. Everything feels great. Maybe I won’t need the mobility equipment.
10:30am – Purple belts begin. My student and friend both lose their first matches. Bummer.
10:50am – I locate a source of energy. Energy for my electronically devices I have become a slave to.
11:03am – I meditate for 15 minutes to calm my nerves and remember how meaningless this whole thing is on the grand scheme of things.
It’s weird. It’s like a left over ritual from our tribal past where we as humans would pit our champions against one another to see who was the strongest.
It solves nothing, and is meaningless to most, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and meaningful to those who take part.
This might seem like a weird mindset to take into a match but it’s helpful for me. When I was younger I was too wrapped up in the idea that I had to win. It would hamstring me from being myself on the mat. If you’ve compete, you know what I mean when I say not myself. When I was younger I would roll great in the gym and just flounder in tournaments. I would still win but it was not me. I was so worried about winning and losing that it was hard to really go for it.
By accepting the futility of the whole thing. It allows me to perform so much better. In the end, this shit doesn’t matter. So I might as well go out there, execute my style, attempt to be exciting and enjoy myself.
11:30am – Chad is informed he can’t wear his grey Gi so he borrows one from our teammate Kenny. This gi rule seems weird since this is a spectator event with IBJJF rules and ADCC time format. I figured a grey gi would be nice and flashy to stand out for the crowd.
I arrange to wear the Gi after Chad is done because I took my grey Gi with me as well.
New preparation maxim. Always bring an extra white Gi in case people are sticklers for Gi colors.
Maybe the sweat of 3 men combined into 1 Gi will give me an advantage against my opponent. A sort of biological attack designed to sting the nostrils to accompany the physical barrage of techniques.
11:39am – I find a better bathroom inside the mall right next to a cold water fountain. As I was walking out of the venue area my girlfriend feeds me a spoonful of “lemon cookie Italian ice cream.”
Water source located, post competition cheat food has been decided upon.
11:45am – Battle Crap #2
If you’re ever backed up and prune juice won’t do the trick. Just compete. End of problem.
12:41pm – My buddy Clay Mayfield put on a heck of show winning by submission.
Battle Crap # 3 this is usually my lucky number ever since my days in MMA.
When leaving the venue area you experience a strange contrast.
You walk through a door to Lil Mikey’s ice cream. Which is brightly lit with white walls and floors. Sprinkled with sharp colors to break up the blankness. Large windows allow sunlight to rush in which only furthers the brightness of the room as it banks off the white walls and floors.
When entering the main section of the mall you’re blasted with the smells of pizza and cinnamon rolls belching from the food court area.
As I pass consumers smiling with their purchases in hand. They look so relaxed and carefree. I can’t help but think that not even 200 feet away there are 2 dozen guys who are on edge mentally as they prepare for battle in attempt to rip each other’s limbs and neck off.
Then there’s the venue. When you walk back to the abandoned Banana Republic (or whatever store it used to be) it’s dimly lit and you can feel the energy and emotions inside the room. Not to mention the smell of victory and defeat. Which has a resemblance to body odor, mats and coconut water.
Anyone who has competed for long enough probably knows the feeling I’m talking about. Tournaments give off a certain feel to them. Whether it’s the Pans or a local tournament. They all have a similar vibe. It seems to hit you as soon as you walk inside.
Just an observation.
1:25pm – Chad wins 2 matches by submission against Clay. I was hoping that would be the finals. Those two are so exciting and go for the finish. It would have been a fun one to watch.
During the match Chad messed up his foot. Not sure how bad it is, but we’ll try and tape it up.
1:40pm – So his food is pretty bad. While we were taping it. Just touching it caused him to wince in pain. He insisted that he wanted to compete (which doesn’t surprise me, he’s no punk bitch). I make sure to tell him to tap if he feels anything or if the guys starts tugging on his foot.
In his 3rd match his opponent goes for the injured foot and Chad tapped. I’m probably bias but I think Chad wins that match if he wasn’t injured. But. . . thems the breaks.
1:58pm – It’s about an hour out from the start of the black belts. I’m going to stop writing and start listening to music to zone in and focus on my match.
Alright, so it’s all over. I’m sitting in the mall enjoying the air conditioning as my body is still trying to cool off. Passerby are looking at me curiously as I’m sure I give off the appearance of someone who just took a dunk in a pool.
I was fortunate to get a bye first round. During the second round I faced my good friend Jordan Sullivan. The match match was short. Which I’m happy about. I really didn’t relish having to face my friend so early.
In the finals I faced Pedro Palhares. He gave me a hell of a fight. A scrappy kid for sure. Both of us came right at one another from the start. No feeling out process needed. I was able to secure the win via controlling the stand up and pressure passing.
One side rant. I really hate how BJJ competitors hug the line of bounds. For me the wrestling mentality of taking the center and fighting for the center is still important.
Where as in BJJ competitors just back up and skirt the boundary. It makes it difficult to go for takedowns and really get a good match going because you’re constantly having to recenter. Let just stay in the center and fight this thing out. It’s what were here to do!
I’m happy to have put on a good performance for myself , my students and my team. In the end I compete to test myself and lead from the front with my students. I’m also really happy about his giant acai bowl they gave me after I won. It was also really good to have my longtime friend and coach Kyle at my corner. My purple belt Justin knows my game and gave some helpful tips during the match.
The win is less important than the performance for me. I can still perform well and lose. I can also perform poorly and win.
When I walk off the mat I want to know that I had no hesitation and played my game well.
5:30pm – We arrive at the closest burger place. Smash burger is a decent chain for a burger.
My purple belt Justin and I have been holding down the post competition burger tradition together since 2012.
I have to drive so I opt for a milkshake in lieu of a beer. A successful end to the BJJ Kumite.