My journey at the moment (and the foreseeable future) is characterised by recovery and rehabilitation at this stage rather than performance. This will continue to be so until I hit my goal weight of around 14st (90kg), because I still don’t feel I’m where I want to be or living the life I ultimately want to lead. I feel it is important to continue getting out there on the mats to compete, even though I’m not in the best shape I could be, because I want to continue learning more about myself through and in competition.
At the start of 2017 I set myself some goals continuing with my BJJ journey, in that respect, the majority of them I accomplished. Due to the postponement of the No Gi British Open at the end of last year I have three objectives yet to be completed but with a rearranged competition my intention is to complete these goals and start focusing on achieving the goals of 2018.
|Compete at the IBJJF Europeans 2017 in Lisbon
|Medal in the Blue Belt Adult Ultra Heavyweight Division at the British Open – Gi
|Compete in the Absolute Division at the British Open – Gi
|Medal in the Blue Belt Adult Ultra Heavyweight Division at the British Open – No Gi
|Compete in the Absolute Division at the British Open – No Gi
|Medal two times in the Gi
|Medal two times in No Gi
2018’s goals will be exactly the same as above (with one minor amendment to reflect competing in the appropriate weight class at the time), along with a determined goal to lose 6 stone this year, attend and complete a referee’s course.
Another major goal I want to achieve, whenever it is due, is to be awarded my Purple Belt under Braulio but I personally don’t feel I would deserve it if I stayed in this current shape of mine, hobbyist or not, and I want to make this year the year that I become Purple Belt ready. I feel that there are significant aspects of my abilities that I have to work on to be worthy of a purple belt so I will be concentrating on those areas to develop myself. 2018 will be about improving my guard and retention, my back control and learning to invert properly inside the classroom.
In 17 days I return to the competition mats for the first time since the British Open 2017 in May, where I gained a Bronze medal in my division and contested the Open Class for the first time at Blue Belt, and I'll be fighting both in the Gi and No Gi.
This will be the second time I have entered a No Gi competition and my first at Blue Belt. The last time I competed in No Gi I came away with a Silver, due to a submission in EBI overtime rules, so I am looking to at least equal my last best record this time in IBJJF rules and gain entry to the Open Class.
Training has been going well and my game is still developing. Can't wait to step on the mats and continue my progression.
A couple of weekends back I was waiting to fight my first British Open competition, and make my domestic debut at Blue Belt, which I had been training hard for. I had stayed relatively injury free until the week of the competition when I made a schoolboy error when it came to one of the techniques we were drilling on the Tuesday – and I rolled over my head rather than my shoulder (luckily my partner was light so didn’t hurt as much as it could’ve done) but by fight time I was nicely warmed up, had mobility in my neck so it’s not the start of making excuses.
I felt really good, warm, loose, focused and ready to fight when I stepped on the mat. I was confident that I had the right game plan for the opponent’s body shape I was going to fight against. My training had been really good in improving range of techniques I was catching against training partners and I knew what I wanted to attack.
My brother got a video of my Ultra Heavyweight fight with Jake Stirling from Marsden Martial Arts:
Spoilers – commentary: I got a collar grip and pulled to deep half guard. I tried to get underneath him for the sweep. I spent a couple of minutes fighting for the right grips going for a number of options depending on how he placed his hands and weight. Eventually around three minutes in after I’d locked down his leg he eventually passed my guard for three points and achieved mount for four points. I was seven points down. I swept him for two points, and stood up to pass his guard and unfortunately didn’t secure the position well enough to get the three points (as you can see the referee about to award the points when Jake recovers quarter guard and so I received an advantage instead, though I didn’t know it at the time) and then I stood up to knee slide and passed his guard and made sure to secure the points.
So there’s a minute or so left on the clock and I try to mount him. It’s a sloppy attempt, and I knew it at the time, and I’m capable of better. So I got the mount for one second before I’m rolled off and failed to get the points that would win the match. I end up in guard with control of both sleeves. I tried to scissor sweep for the two points, which would’ve tied the match but had me ahead on the advantage, but I couldn’t commit to it well enough because I thought he’d step up and pass and then the clock ran out.
So I lost my first fight, and won the Bronze medal, with a great comeback performance. I could be proud of my performance but as a perfectionist I want to make sure that I don’t make those mistakes again.
But the take homes from the fight:
- I can and should win in Ultra Heavy fights. Now I have the belief it should be easier to step on the mat next time.
- I know what went wrong with my technique and preparation that I can solve in time for the next competition.
- Another match without being submitted and at no point was I in danger but I need to look at my style of fighting so as not to allow points to be scored on me.