Probably one of the busiest weekends for MMA/BJJ/Grappling in some time since there were so many events taking place, this last one. So to give a little back-story, I was all geared to attend the trials in Macau but I came to my senses and confirmed I would stay in Bangkok for DARE 2/11. Thankfully, Lee Li from ASIA MMA (facebook) was there and has done a fantastic write-up of the trials in Macau. Big thanks to her and congrats to all the competitors and finalists.  -Luke
Rodrigo Caporal (Atos JJ) & Taki-san (Kowloon BJJ)

by: Lee Li

The inaugural Abu Dhabi World Professional South China Trials started off with the usual flurry of confusion - and this was even before boarding the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau.  Someone dropped our ferry tickets into the bin at breakfast by mistake.  Then I got in the wrong line at immigration and experienced "Macau-style time" which means a time-warp back to the days when we recorded everything on stone tablets.  Hey, relax, right?  Fortunately for myself and a few other competitors who arrived late because of the poor weather and packed ferries, the event didn't kick off until 11am.  No one complained though. 

I would have liked to have strictly covered this event from a journalistic standpoint, but every extra hand is needed to help at these events, so organizer Samulime "Kei" sent me over to score keep at the A ring.  When I first started doing this, I thought it would be great to have a front row seat.  After 3 years of Brazilians yelling, coaches trying to dispute at the table, missing records and scrambling to keep the bouts moving, I've lost my naivetee.  Even though I have to be more focused on the ref than the fight I can still feel and appreciate the energy in the ring.  I admit that I did relax when the brown and black belts came out to play and I'll recap on that in a bit.

There were two rings set up, and new large metal crowd-control barricades.  Other than one time when MMA fighter Andy Wang grabbed it and momentarily forgot he wasn't in a cage, they seemed to be a positive addition.  It meant the fights mostly stayed in the match area.  The only incident of innocent bystander injury was when referee Makoto Ikuta's foot tried to stop Hong Kong Olympic Squad Judo Master Adachi Haruki and GRIPS founder/pro rugby player Andrew Wong Kee from an epic attempt to crash through the score table and into the next room. 

GRIPS and coach Rodrigo Caporal brought a big contingency to this event.  They had a lot of new players, which made for a dynamic white belt division.  Makoto Aramaki's Hong Kong Jiu Jitsu also brought a sizable group.  As his gym is recently established this proves the popularity of BJJ in HK is rising.  As always, Kowloon BJJ was out in force as well.  Daniel Charles of Macau and Henry Chan of HK paired up a team under Fusion.  I think Daniel must have had a hundred students fighting because of his shouting the whole tournament.  Epic was when he and Caporal paired up for an over-the-shoulder duet at which point everyone started watching them instead of the match they were coaching.  I had my fingers in my ears.  We were also lucky to have Taiwan BJJ and Philippines Nova Uniao representatives at the trials.  And I can't leave out my friends from Quinton Arendse's Versus and my own Triquest MMA - Kyin BJJ team!  My apologies for any omissions.

The very competent "Makotos" were in the house and did an excellent job refereeing and judging for the two days of competition.  Congratulations are also in order for the "Keisukes" - Kei and Taki from Kowloon BJJ - for successfully completing the first South China trials.   On behalf of the Venetian, Gus Liem kept the staff quenched and fed as well.

Epic Battles Recap

From peering over the score cards, here's a little bit of what I saw in the blue belt finals. (unfortunately I couldn't follow the white belts on mat B, sorry).

The fighters in the semi-finals stormed, swept and submitted their way through the competition.  Judo black belt Adachi showed some good submissions to compliment his throws by wins via armbar and choke.  Wong Kee proved far too strong for almost every opponent.  When they met in the semi-finals, the whole event came to a standstill.  Wong Kee figured out early that he'd met someone similar in size and balance to himself, so he tried to grab Adachi's fingers and was deducted a point.  However, the match changed as Wong Kee found his rhythm, using superior strength and leverage to off-balance the judo master enough to get his back twice.  Adachi was clearly frustrated but couldn't get past one clean sweep.  Wong Kee out-pointed him 10-3.

Hoddle and Kai Yan had a very fast and technical and evenly matched fight that was a pleasure to watch.  They didn't rely on strength which foretold of the outcome of the final in advance.  It was close and Kai Yan came out the winner by 2-0.

The final saw Kai Yan meet Wong Kee, whose superior strength didn't allow Kai Yan to do more than defend, and Wong Kee took the gold 5-0.

The purple belt finals saw a roster stacked with competitors who have received their belts within the last year.  A couple of guys were at their first competition as a purple, Andy from my gym Triquest and my friend Gary from Versus.  With a trip to Abu Dhabi to compete at stake, everyone was hungry for a chance.

In the semis, Grizzly Matthew from Kowloon BJJ submitted Gary via triangle in under the two minute mark.  New papa Douglas from GRIPS got a buy, a nice present for a guy with no sleep.  But that was over when he met Matthew for a fierce technical fast blazing battle that saw Doug almost taking the back in one second, but misjudging, and Matthew immediately capitalized, rolled and took the leg for an ankle lock. 

Doug said "I f**ked up.  He's strong and fast."

Matthew said "I had fingers in the collar so I knew I could hold on, then it popped in my mind to roll him off and go for the ankle lock right away.  My tongue has some chunks missing; he is a tough guy."

Ahh, the eloquence of combat sports.

Hoin from Kowloon BJJ came back from shoulder surgery to win by one advantage over Richard Kua from Atos VPF.  He met teammate Matthew in the final.  A vicious game of rock-paper-scissors ensued, and ...  Congratulations, Matthew!  You're going to represent South China in Abu Dhabi at the World Pro's next year!

The brown and black belts

Please don't ask me how these divisions were bracketed; I only read the papers put in front of me.  I'll just recap each of the matches up to the final.

Ikuta vs Caporal

Both players sit and Caporal goes for a leg lock straight away but doesn't get it.  The next five minutes see Ikuta on his back and Caporal crushing, switching grips, scooping, basically everything to pass his guard.  Ikuta proves very flexible and has a great guard.  Finally Caporal is able to throw him to the side and get side control.  Ikuta escapes and goes for a footlock but time is up.  He's shown what a great guard and defence he has, however Caporal's pressure and intensity kept him from getting any points.

Eric vs Taki

Taki immediately shoots, ends with Eric having 1/2 guard.  Taki controls his legs and almost gets his back, but Eric gets back to 1/2 guard.  Taki flattens him out and after he pins him again, passes to side control.  Taki goes for an arm, then takes Eric's back and ends with a choke at 1:23 left.

Makoto vs Caporal

This was a very active, technical, and hard fought battle.  Makoto goes for a take down straight away, but Caporal stuffs it and stays on top.  Makoto plays guard, transitioning quickly between 1/2, butterfly and open and Caporal dances right along, putting pressure on him and trying to pass.  He's really showing the patient side of his game.  At four minutes, both have tight grips in and Caporal can't break Makoto's off.  But he continues to wait, stacking Makoto who kept his grip and tries for an armbar.  At this moment, Caporal gets the leverage he needs to pass and finally flattens him from side control.  Caporal transitions to north/south and gets the choke at :34 seconds left.

Taki vs Andy

For about three minutes, Taki and Andy get grips and Taki tries multiple sweeps which Andy avoids.  Finally Taki yanks Andy towards him and thrusts with his leg so hard that Andy falls flattened in his guard, but quickly escapes before Taki can take advantage.  From 1/2 guard, Taki keeps his grips, climbs up Andy's leg, and as Andy tries to escape over his shoulder, Taki gets a sweep and it's Andy who's got 1/2 guard now.  At 1 minute left, Andy gets underhooks, but then it's Taki going for an escape when time is called.  Taki shows great determination and consistent offence; Andy shows good defence.  Taki gets the win by 2 points.

Taki vs Caporal

Somebody rings a bell.  There's a flurry of grips.  People are shouting.  Caporal seems to have Taki's lapel.  Caporal's face shows effort.  Taki taps due to a standing choke at just 40 seconds into the round. 

We have some good jiujitsu all around in Hong Kong.  I'm happy to be a part of this community!


Sunburned said...

Taki tapped to a wrist lock by Caporal, not a standing choke.

Anonymous said...

wow, there is a nova uniao team in philippines?

Anonymous said...

wow, there is a nova uniao team in philippines?

Anonymous said...

no theres no nova uniao philippines. visit was from atos philippines

Lee Li said...

Sunburned, thanks! we couldn't see from the table. Rodrigo's back was to us, it was so fast, and the tight grips they both had, plus Rodrigo's jumping, made us think that's what happened. as it was the last bout, the place became a flurry of activity and i couldn't get an accurate assessment from anyone close to it. even Taki nodded at me when i asked him if that's what happened. i should have guessed differently when he was shaking his hand out though, but man, those guys were freaking LOCKED onto each others' sleeves.

Frankie said...

I thought Matt beat Gary with a Kimura...

LUKE said...

I guess it makes sense why Rodrigo tapes his wrists like he does. Sorry I missed the action but thanks to Lee Li's recap I still get to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

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