No excuses, I lost! Or maybe some 🙂
We had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition yesterday in Estonia. It was National Championship in Gi. I fell out in the first round by submission (triangle choke). It wouldn’t be something special or something worth writing but I lost to a “white belt” being a purple belt myself for 1.5 years already. How the F did that happen? 😉
If you have given your all and you still lose, the loss is easy to take because you left everything out there. But if you lose in a situation that you know you could have done much, much better, the loss is much bitter to swallow. Although I´m grateful for that loss because it taught me many things.
Let me start from the beginning.
Yes I know, no excuses. But anyway, let me tell you a little “backstory”.
I´m a main organizer for BJJ competitions in Estonia. It was my fifth event to organize and in last competitions I have competed myself too. So I thought why this should be any different.
Actually I wasn’t planning to compete in that event, but as I didn’t have gold medal in BJJ nationals in Gi (I have gold medals from nogi national competitions) and a friend of mine said: “Go and compete. If you go I will go too”. So the decision was made. I registered to the event in the last moment. There were 4 other participants in my weight class and they all were white belts so I thought it won’t be that hard to get that gold medal that I was still missing.
As you already know, things didn’t go as planned.
It all started to go down already before the competition itself. I have two guys who have been like main referees for the competition and who have also introduced the main rules to participants right before the competitions. They both sent me a message they cannot be there at the beginning. I thought, no problem, I have lead the competition for many times already, I will introduce the rules myself.
As I´m choosing the fight order for the competition manually. I thought, it would be better to get my own fights done early so I can carry on with other tasks without worrying about my matches. As my own competition would not be so hard (I have only white belts in my division, remember ;)) why shouldn’t I manage to introduce the rules and start my matches shortly after that. My first match was 6th in the schedule so I would have enough time to prepare for it and get it out of the way.
In the morning before the competition the time flew so fast. It was already time to introduce the rules. It was already time so start with the matches. And it was already time for my own match because first matches went much faster than expected (one match didn’t happen because of the injury and all others were finished in few minutes, regular match time is 6 minutes). I also forgot that I have to be in the corner in my students match which was scheduled 3rd match of the day.
Because all this, I didn’t have time to prepare for my first match. I know I said “no excuses” 😉 It is not an excuse because I was confident I will win anyway. “No problem, white belt shouldn’t be so hard to beat. My guard is almost unpassable by white belts and my own passing is top notch against them. No problem I can do it even without a proper warm up. It should be easy. Fast in and fast out”
So my match started. Usually I pull guard myself because like I said my guard is pretty much unpassable by my own division participants (if you are not familiar with the terms. It is when you sit down while your opponent stays standing. The goal for top guy is pass (passing the guard) the legs so he could control upper body and go for a submissions from there. Bottom guy has an option to sweep (put other guy down and become top guy himself) or to search for a submission). This time I thought, no problem I can easily let him pull guard and I can start my awesome passing game. But universe and my opponent had other plans 😉
“Damn, how I can get out of this shit?”
Here is a video of my match. I will comment my thought process during the match below the video. The video start when I´m trying my first pass.
I was very sloppy in my approach for the fight. I didn’t felt any danger from my opponent and I let him do his thing.
0:07 After my first passing attempt failed, I stayed on my knees and let him have the collar grip very easily and I stayed at the place where I didn’t have almost any control myself: “No problem do your thing I will see what you have here” I was just concentrating on the collar grip he had.
0:10 Boom he shot his legs around me and pulled me to close guard: “Oh shit! Not this one! This is not my thing at all.” In our gym people do not play close guard usually and I haven’t trained it much. This is no excuse. I knew that this is my weakness and I should have drilled it.
“Damn, how I can get out of this shit? I cannot lose to a white belt, can I. Others are watching. No way I´m going to lose this match. I will play it safe, no mistakes.”
0:30 “Let’s try what our coach has taught us. One leg up and diagonal hand on opponent’s bicep”. My opponent freed his arm with quick rotation.
0:45 My opponent pulled me forward a little: “Ok let’s try the stack, put my elbows over his shoulders and pin him under me”. Very sloppy stack I should say. Bottom guy could easily pummel his hand in and take an over hook to my left arm. He grabbed my collar with the same hand to tighten the grip.
“Damn my arm is totally stuck” I have been in this situation many times before but this time I just couldn’t free my arm. And I felt how the blood flow stopped. My arm started to go numb slowly. One of my thoughts before the match was: “Participants in my weight class are not that strong that I could not escape their positions.” I was wrong again. I haven’t felt so tight grip before.
I didn’t want to take any risks to move and make some quick motions. There was a constant thought in my head: “I cannot lose to a “white belt””. My arm was extended in quite bad angle and I felt if I try to make some quick freeing motion I could arm lock myself. So I just stayed there and let him move closer to his finishing move. Which was triangle choke of course 🙂 And I knew he was looking for it.
1:18 Boom he shot triangle on me. I have been in triangle chokes a lot at trainings. And I really mean “a LOT”. Because it has been one of my Achilles heals and I have spent a lot of time to master the escape from it. Immediately I stepped on his chest to make him feel uncomfortable. But I didn’t want to extend too much to free my head because my arm was stuck and I was afraid to get an armbar.
So I just stayed there and waited for my doom. I felt how the blood flow to my head was interrupted: “I´m not even getting beat by a “white belt”, I´m getting choked unconscious. This cannot happen while other are watching”, so I tapped out. I knew I did it earlier than I usually do it but I couldn’t bare the shame by being choked out by a “white belt” in a competition.
Lessons to learn
This is the story and now what I have learned from it.
- Never underestimate your opponent, EVER! No matter how tough you think you are, you can lose in every given day to anyone. In everything that I did prior to competition I thought I will not have hard time to manage all the things because my matches will be easy
- No matter how easy the challenge may look, always prepare properly. Warm up your body and sharpen your mind (in this competition I didn’t do either of them. I was so attached with other tasks and I didn’t have time to prepare my body and my mind, and mind was crucial in that match)
- Even if you know you are better, never let your guard down because you will never know what can happen. Always be sharp.
- Never mix training with competition. In training you can play around, be sloppy and let others do their thing because nobody goes 100%. In competition that sloppiness can have a high price.
Lesson: Always play your own game. Even if you are not going full on, do not let your opponent play his game, you may not come out from it.
- Don’t think you can manage everything on your own in very short timeframe. Preparing the competition, introducing the rules, being in the corner of your student and compete. All this without any pause to prepare for my own match.
Lesson: Spread the tasks so you will have plenty of time in between. You cannot expect everything to go according to your plans (first fights went 3 times faster). I should have asked someone else to introduce the rules or at least I should have put my first match much later.
- Work on your weaknesses. I knew that close guard is my weakness. How much I trained specifically for that? None, zero! And actually I lost last competition’s final because of another weakness I have and that weakness I also knew but didn’t work on it.
- And the most important lesson. I have still a long road to travel to transcend my Ego. I lost my match mainly because I was afraid what others think if I lose to a “white belt”. “Oh know, life would end if it would happen!”
Everyone has their own shit to worry about and nobody would actually care. Even if your friends mock you a little after your loss. So what, your life will not stop because of that. Everything will go one as before and soon you will forget it.
It is easy to say it afterwards. But in the middle of the action your Ego takes over and you are just a passenger in your body. I need to work more on my Ego and especially with my biggest demon “What people think of me” I have made quite remarkable progress there but so much is still to go
Every coin has two sides 🙂
This loss was a very good thing and I´m grateful for that. In last two competition the universe has exactly pointed out my weaknesses. Today at the open mat training I drilled 1,5 hours the escape from close guard and also from the same grip. I feel much more confident in that position now.
In my training I have always looked for easy way out. Choosing the opponents according to my current condition. If I feel little bit tired I have chosen easier opponents so I would not gas out too much. That is why in my competitions I have started very slow so I would not gas out. Today when I drilled close guard, we went pretty fast and strong and I liked the feeling of tiredness.
This loss gave me motivation to train harder and I know if I want to compete I have to train like I compete. No more easy way outs 🙂
I´m coming back stronger than before, so watch out my opponents 🙂