A seriously intense jiu-jitsu weekend as I mentioned before with not just the tournament but a black-belt division for a $2,000 purse and a seminar with Eduardo Telles and Andre Galvao to top it off. A congratulations is in order to the Hong Kong/Kowloon guys that put this event together. Also to everyone who competed and the teams that came to support, it was a great turnout. I believe we had competitors from all the major areas; Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Phillipines, Thailand, Shanghai, Japan and Brazil. Events like this are a real testament to the growth of BJJ in Southeast Asia and it was a pleasure to be there and take part. Now for the recap.
APRIL 27, 2008 (GI)Having arrived late the night before I got to the event rather early in hopes of making it the 88 kilos division but with my gi I came in at 90 kilos. Regardless, I felt good and was ready to compete. I learned a hard lesson this weekend as it was my first tournament where I came to compete in addition to reporting and taking pictures for the blog. Because of this, I realized my focus was split and had missed my opportunity to warm-up properly and get mentally ready for my first match. So when my name was called, I was busy taking pictures of other people and had to rush to put on my gi. So in the process of my first match, I came in cold and midway through I heard a pop in my knee as I took on my opponent's weight over my shin. I was able to finish the match but was really nervous as to what extent I had hurt myself. I figured I was good enough for that day and continued to fight three more matches. It's entirely my fault for not being prepared and giving respect to why I was there, which was to compete. At the same time, I can't take anything away from my opponents that day as they were all tough as hell. I believe the outcome would be the same, regardless of my knee. A big thanks to you guys cause I come back home with a lot on my plate to improve upon and even more hungry to train and improve. I learned a lot this weekend and had a blast rolling with you guys.
The heavier divisions had fewer fighters but all of which brought out monsters and it was a nice contrast to the speed and technical matches in the lighter divisions. I'm starting to see a stronger body of blue-belts in all weights that will soon be the future purples and browns. The teams with the larger number of competitors were Kowloon BJJ, JAB (BTT), Taiwan BJJ and Macau BJJ. I don't know where it comes from but I have this weird perception of myself not being a big-heavy guy but normal. So it surprises me when people tell me how much pressure I give or how heavy I feel when I play my top game. I guess in my mind's eye, I'm the pluma stuck in a pesado's body, hahaha. With that said, I really get into the lighter-weight matches and in some weird way, I see myself. Now whether that's how I actually look and play on the mat is a different thing but we all have our own way of visualizing BJJ.
The day ran relatively smoothly and outside of the bathroom issues, I think the space was able to accommodate the number of competitors. There were three mat spaces which was a bit of a squeeze but then it may for things moving faster than had it been two. There were only a few cases where there some bad overlaps but the refs took to safe-guarding the players. I think that's an important element to the refs and they're another group that deserve thanks and respect. It's one thing to represent the rules and fair play but it's also the ref's responsibility to protect the fighters. I can't stress enough how the quality of jiu-jitsu, events and reffing need to improve parallel to each other. Imbalance will only stagnate the growth, get players hurt and turn people off.
Before the the medals were give out, the hilight of the gi-day was the black-belt open weight division for the $2,000 purse. Competing were; Eduardo Telles (Nine Nine), Andre Galvao (Brasa), Pedro Schmall (Beijing BJJ), Tony Eduardo Lima (Ralph Gracie), Makoto Aramaki (Kowloon BJJ), Makoto Ikuta (Trust Jiu-Jitsu) and Xandinho Izidro (JAB/BTT).
BLACK-BELT OPEN DIVISION
Tony Eduardo Lima vs. Eduardo TellesThe first match was between Tony Eduardo Lima and Eduardo Telles. My memory is a little sketchy since I was busier looking for the shot but Telles won this one by choke. By the way, if anyone has video of these matches PLEASE SEND THEM TO ME OR SHARE THE YOUTUBE LINK SO THAT I CAN POST.
Xandinho Izidro vs. Makoto AramakiThe second match was between Xandinho and Aramaki. Xandinho spent most of his time on top working for the pass as Aramaki favored the half-guard. Wanting to stay on his back, Aramaki kept to the floor but this one went the distance and Xindinho won by points.
Andre Galvao vs. Makoto IkutaThe third match was between Andre Galvao and Makoto Ikuta. This match I was definitely looking forward to watching since Ikuta won his weight division in last years Japan Open. From the get go, Ikuta ran from one end of the mat at full speed into Galvao to pull guard. If you haven't seen him do this before, it was a definite surprise for the spectators. Ikuta played a great game from guard and gave what looked like a hard time to Galvao for the pass. The size difference was significant but the exchange was fast and exciting. Galvao finished with a paper-cutter choke from inside Ikuta's half-guard. ***Side note: No one has passed Ikuta's guard since he was a blue-belt.
Eduardo Telles vs. Xandinho IzidroTelles played his game with Xandinho working for the pass but making sure to keep this distance from Telles' grips. There were some near misses and strong take-down attempts from Telles before he was able to settle under Xandinho and work to win by armbar.
Pedro Schmall vs. Andre GalvaoPedro got the by on this one to fight Andre in the semi. Physically it looked to be a good match up as the first half of the match showed. Andre pulled guard early on with Pedro working the pass. Several submission attempts from Andre on his back but Pedro kept his shape and pressure. Eventually, it looked as though Pedro was gassing and Andre was right there to pick it up. Several flips later and going the distance, Andre would take it.
FINALS: Eduardo Telles vs. Andre GalvaoThere was a break for the competitors to relax before the final between these two friends but there was not mistake this would be a war. Telles immediately began working his turtle-guard against Galvao. The exchange was back and forth but with Telles gripping Galvao's leg from the turtle, stepping behind and jumping back for the sweep, Galvao kept an underhook to secure a reverse ezekiel. Telles fought but it was clear how tight Galvao had it and there was no way he'd let go. Taking the win and submitting his former teacher, Galvao couldn't be happier. Telles, disappointed but still smiling gave the credit to this friend and both received a huge applause from the crowd.
An amazing display by all the competitors.