12.17.2007

ARTICLE: A REAL HERO

The Greatest Ever BJJ/Submission Grappling Match In Asia - A Real Hero!!
By: The Geeza

Of the thousands of BJJ and submission grappling matches that I have watched from all around Asia, only a few truly stand out as being genuinely great bouts. I am writing you this email to highlight without doubt Asia’s greatest ever BJJ/Submission grappling match.

Greatness is a concept heavily dependent your perspective and bias. But we can all agree that if the following ingredients were combined during a long encounter, a great BJJ/Submission grappling match would be the certain outcome;

1. Two clearly distinct grappling styles; BJJ versus Wrestling.

2. A weaker player exhibiting superior technique against a stronger more assertive and dominant opponent.

3. In one corner, a game underdog player who is a calm, smiling and noble man displaying intense personal charisma on the mat....

4. ....fighting against a defending champion who is an accomplished national athlete and an unrepentant, aggressive rule-breaker; he is the heavy favorite.

5. An inexperienced referee committing gross negligence with respect to the rules and the safety of the fighters.

6. Three consecutive offences that each should lead to disqualification followed by a strangely ironic moment when the players actually roll underneath the officials table to find no sanctuary there, moments before the match reaches its final immensely satisfying climax.

7. A winner emerging after overcoming extreme adversity using the most prestigious submission that every BJJ player dreams of achieving at least once during his competition experiences.

And here is the most amazing thing; even though I have revealed so much about the plot of the match that if it was a movie you would not go to see it, you will still be enthralled.

There are three phases in the match. Phase 1 is the period up until the moment when the first yellow card is issued for eye-gouging. At the end of phase 1 we can surmise the following:

1. The referee will not follow the rules exactly – eye gouging should have led to disqualification and instead a yellow card is issued.

2. There are serious doubts now about Noriadi’s sportsmanship as the eye-gouging seems intentional.

3. Hardian is undoubtedly the weaker player, but maintains good spirits.

The second phase of the match is the period leading up to the second eye gouging. At the end of phase 2 we can conclude the following.

1. It is now apparent that the referee does not know the rules and therefore will not apply them.

2. It has become crystal clear that Noriadi has bad intentions.

3. Hardian has placed himself in great personal danger to prove that BJJ is the greatest grappling art. He had the right to tap on the first eye gouge and claim the match, but instead he wanted to win while staying within the rules despite the fact that his opponent had stepped outside decency boundaries for a second time.

In the remainder of the match, phase 3, there is a further rule infraction that should have led to disqualification; Noriadi runs off the mat to escape a triangle. But it is now no surprise that the referee does nothing. Hardian voluntarily disengages off the mat and the players are brought back to the centre of the fight area. At the re-start the referee does not put the players back in exactly the same positions thereby allowing Noriadi to take advantage by putting his second arm inside the triangle and easily escaping the submission. Finally, the end of the match provides a sublime moment of pure joy.

I do not expect Hardian’s remarkable achievement in this match to be overshadowed for years to come for two reasons. Firstly, referees in Asia are getting better. The match is superlative because it continued despite one of the players committing three offences that should have led to instant disqualification; he eye gouged twice and then ran out of the competition area to escape a submission. If it any point he had been disqualified it would have been just another humdrum day on the mats, with one guy sent home to ponder his evil deed and the other through to the next round. But the referee was inexperienced and allowed the match to continue after each infraction. Today, Asian referees have gained more knowledge and practice; they now make fewer mistakes. Additionally coaches and players are increasingly demanding fair play and fair treatment.

The second reason that this match will stand as one of the all time greats is because in the early days of submission grappling tournaments the competitors chasing the prize money were a rag-tag bunch of Jeet Kune Do, Judo, Wrestling and Fight-Club veterans who were not particularly versed in submissions. At the latest Djarum IWS Championship in November 2007, virtually all the players were schooled and trained in BJJ. The rag-tag bunch stayed away from the contest because in previous tournaments they got tooled by those people who were regularly training in BJJ. Therefore, this particular kind of match up is increasingly rare.

In this exemplary match as each offence was committed (and not appropriately acted upon by the referee), a richer texture was added to the human drama unfolding. Drama involves a performance and roles being played. Hardian was playing the role of the hero. He was a brave man; a conqueror. And the tool he used was BJJ. A hero is someone that in the face of danger and adversity (or from a position of seemingly insurmountable weakness), displays remarkable courage and the will for self-sacrifice for some greater good. Additionally, the martial valor Hardian displayed can also be interpreted as a more general moral excellence.

The literal meaning of the word hero is protector, defender or guardian. In this match, Hardian was defending his body from an extreme and unusual attack and late in the match he dislocates his shoulder, yet fights on. But more importantly, he was also playing the role of a man defending the values of honor, courage, respect and sportsmanship that are so important in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling.

We get our ideas of what a hero is from films, the media and books. In movies, a hero is often simply an ordinary person placed against their will into extraordinary circumstances and who then prevails despite the odds being stacked against them. In some movies the hero has some superhuman characteristic such as extraordinary strength or endurance that makes him nearly invincible. Movie heroes often have a foil, a villain; typically a charismatic evildoer who represents or embodies the struggle the hero is up against. In contrast, the media typically portrays a hero simply as someone who gives up their life in the line of their normal duties. Alternatively, post-modern fictional books foment the increased popularity of the anti-hero; someone who does not follow common conceptions of heroism.

Films, the media and books are all trying to sell something. The heroic images they promote have one big flaw. They need to attract as many people as possible to their heroic ideals. The need for this mass appeal and hero identification means that the heroes they promote are frequently just a combination of symbols rather than an actual person. In order to appeal to the widest possible range of people, movies, media and books relegate the hero to a type of person which everyone wishes themselves to be, such as a good person or a brave person or a self-sacrificing person. The problem is that characters then are created that have an appeal that is so universal we can all identify with them somewhat, but none of us can identify with them completely.

I will never try to sell you anything. And the reason this Jiu Jitsu match is so outstanding is that it is a real hero, in a real situation, acting in a way that virtually none of you reading this would be capable of. I have been eye gouged by an opponent trying to escape a submission and I lost my lid. But at no point in this match does Hardian lose his temperature. He does not force a disqualification, he does not insist on perfect position on the triangle re-start. He takes what he is given and with guts he does the right thing. He served us all a moral lesson in how to behave on the mats. Hardian Kristiady is a true sports hero and the star of the best ever BJJ/Submission Grappling match in Asia.

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