Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toledo Open Recap

I went down to the Toledo Open this past saturday. I got up at 5:30am, brushed my teeth, packed my gear. I met up with my BJJ brothers Mark and Kiely at 6:30am at GRBJJ. I grabbed a Arby's breakfast sandwich right before, as my weight wasn't going to be an issue for this tournament.

MVT was kind enough to drive us, and we prepared for the 3 hour trip. We made really good time, with no stops and got there in about 2.5 hours. The event was held at Headliners in Toledo, which is a medium size club which seemed to cater to lesser known heavy metal bands. It was old and filthy, but had kind of an industrial feel. I have been in much worse clubs in my thrashing days back in the 90's.

We got there about 9am and there were about 8 cars in the parking lot. This was not a good sign, as I was hoping that we would get a good turnout. Luckily, a lot of guys just showed up late as the weigh in's went until 10am and the even didn't get started until 11am. We were weighed in by Chris Blanke, who is a BJJ black belt under Saulo Ribeiro who runs two schools; one in Detroit and one in Toledo. I know a couple of his students and have heard nothing but good things about him. He was a really nice guy, and stressed that we were all here to have fun.

Chris was in charge of the tournament, but brought in Dustin Ware from out school (team Jorge Gurgel) to run the operations. Dustin is a badass brown belt who runs his own school in Columbus. He also has been putting on very successful tournaments in Ohio for a while now. Props to Chris for reaching out for help (especially from a non Saulo guy) to make sure his tournament ran smooth! There were some great referee's there too, including BJJ black belt Sean Bansfield who has a school in Ann Arbor, and Dan Doerner who is a very talented Jorge Gurgel Brown Belt.

The event got started a little after 11am after a short rules meeting. They used IBJFF rules, for both gi and no-gi. They were fairly restrictive with no-gi moves, as heel hooks were not allowed at any level, and most leg locks were restricted except for the advanced division. This is in contrast to NAGA who allows pretty much all subs in no-gi sans spinal locks and a couple others.

My gi divsion was up first out of my group (blue belt 180-200). I was not very impressive in my performance, made a bunch of mistakes, and missed a few opportunites. I was planning on using this as a tune-up to NAGA Milwaukee next saturday, and I'm glad I got the work in.

The first match I went against some Saulo guy with a couple stripes. He was long and very strong. He pulled guard pretty much right away, which caught me off guard as he just kind of muscled me down. It may not have been pretty but it worked. He went right into a deep collar grip, and hid his other hand behind him in a stalling position. He was pulling me down pretty hard and doing a reasonable job controlling my posture. He was trying to work a cross collar choke for the first few minutes of the match, which I was confident he had zero chance of finishing. I tried to set up my standing guard pass, but I was getting frustrated with him hiding his stalling hand, which is the hand I usually grab for my favorite pass. Since this was going no where, I started pulling his lapel out; intending to trap his arm to work a pass to that side. He didn't like this too much, and changed up his strategy, moving his arm back. I unsuccesfully tried a couple stand ups, and after one such attempt, he tried to sweep me. I held base, but he threw up a triangle. I was in reasonable defensive position to pull out, but right as I got my head out he changed to armbar. He just barely had my elbow on his side of his knees to get me to tap from the lock. Boo. Not my best showing, and a pretty boring match to boot. This guy ended up winning his next match to win the division. Not surprising, as I always draw the top guy in the first round it seems.

My second match was against Marcos, who fought for some martial arts school south of Toledo. He was wearing a green belt, and I have no idea what discipline he earned that belt in. If memory serves me, he lost his first match really close and thrashed some 2-3 stripe blue belt in his second match to make it to the consolation finals with me. He was VERY strong and athletic, but had little technique. This was a fairly stagnant match as well, but there was more action then my first one. I went for a couple shots, which I couldn't finish and ended up pulling guard. He postured up like a wrestler trying to do ground and pound, and I used this opportunity to try and work an armbar. His arms were very strong and difficult to move, so I settled to try a type of flower sweep. He pulled his arm out of this, and we ended up in a scramble where I took half guard after a missed oma plata attempt. Half guard is one of my favorite positions, so I was reasonable happy here. He had pretty good top control, and I wasn't able to move to well to work an underhook. I still was able to work to my side (something I worked on for a year), and decided to go for a deep half guard by going underneath him and propping his leg on my shoulder. He kind of panicked here, and stood up. I should have switched to traditional x-guard, but I he was bouncing around so much I didn't want to let go of the figure four I had on his legs. I ended up sweeping him with a modified x-guard sweep (thanks Crampton!), but from deep half guard instead of x-guard. I got 2 points for the sweep.

I worked top half guard for a moment, but he was able to make some space and stood up. I pull half guard and he tried feverishly to escape, but I hold on and get the win for 3rd place.

I was proud of my teammates in gi. Mark ran into the sandbagging champ who had years of judo training, so was unable to place but fought hard. Kiely played a lot of open guard and ended up getting 3rd place in his gi division. Props to both! You make me proud to be a part of GRBJJ!

I went in no-gi intermediate and had only two other guys. One was Marcos, who I fought in my 3rd place match in gi, and the other was MVT, my teammate. I drew the short straw and got the first match against Marcos.

I pulled butterfly gwuard, but somehow was unable to sweep him. Usually I can sweep most everyone from this position if I can get the type of grip I had, but this guy was a beast and I couldn't push his legs out. I got some advice from Mr. Hyde at no-gi class last night, who told me I missed my opportunity when he swam in for the cross face, that I should have rolled him over to that side as he removed his base by swimming his arm in. In retrospect that makes perfect sense. Thanks Mr. Hyde and Chris who watched my match and came up with the much needed critique. I regained full guard after the missed sweep and controlled his posture pretty good. I was trying to work armbar/triangle but had trouble with keeping good grips as he had the strength advantage.

Marcos then locked up my arm underneath my body to try a pass. He just kind of sat there with it, and I wasn't threatened. I just sat there with 3 limps most of the 2nd half of the match, trying to work offense. Eventually I peeled my arm out. I wasn't able to score any points and the match ended 0-0 after 5 minutes and they decided to do a 2 minute OT as the ref couldn't decide a winner. In OT I tried to work a setup for a takedown. I got a good single off, but wasn't able to finish, electing to pull half guard instead. He again stood up in my half guard, just like in my gi match. I should have switched to x-guard, but he was bouncing around so much, I didn't want to let go of his leg, even for a second. Watching the video it would have been pretty easy to get. No one scored at the match finished. I was confident I would be the winner based on my takedown attempt. I did win the match, and Marcos' coaches freaked out. Like four of them stood up and started getting rowdy. They didn't think that a takedown attempt should be considered an advantage if it is "stuffed". I disagree and the ref actually went to Dustin Ware who agreed. Hats off to Marcos, who was very strong and athletic. If he went to a better grappling school, he could probably get very good.

I had to face my teammate Mark VT in the finals. I didn't really want to fight him and we argued for like 5 minutes if we were going to go. I wanted to just give him the 1st place, as I was tired anyways, but knew he wouldn't want that. We ended up fighting, which we both kind of screwed around. I ended up winning a close match by points, but Mark had me in trouble. It was an unlucky tourny for Mark, who didn't get to show his awesome BJJ. Kiely ended up taking 2nd in beginner no-gi. He tried to do intermediate, but they closed the brackets before he got his card in; so it wasn't his fault. He used a lot of open guard again. He got a couple guys with triangle and I think won one match by referee decision.

I'm very proud of my team and can't wait to rep GRBJJ at NAGA!


Anonymous said...

I was the first guy you faced. Pretty accurate description of the match. What can I say, I play a pretty boring game!

You will have to show me the Tozi pass if we meet again. Will you be at the Ohio Grappling Challenge in Cleveland on June 6?


Dutch Assassin said...

Ha, nice match bro. Boring isn't always bad if your winning divisions and tapping fools out.

I'm not going to the Ohio Grappling Challenge, but compete pretty regularly so maybe we'll see each other again.

I would be happy to show the Tozi pass to you. I'm not an expert by any means. I actually almost attempted it on you, but I'm not quite a comp level with it yet.

Anyways, congrats on your tournament victory.


Mark said...

Hey Dutch Assassin, just happened upon your website a few weeks ago and just wanted to say awesome job on your tourneys and such. I really like reading about your experiences as I'm just beginning my journey. I'll be at NAGA Milwaukee this weekend too as a white belt (started January, no prior wrestling experience) doing Gi and am excited but also REALLY nervous (yeah, understatement. I'm SUPER nervous).

Anyway, maybe I'll see you there! Good luck on your matches!

Dutch Assassin said...


Everyone is nervous for their first couple tournaments, completely normal. The more you compete, the less nervous you get.

Don't set your goal as winning every match. Just try to stay calm, use good jiu-jitsu, and most of all HAVE FUN! people get so wrapped up in winning and losing that they forget why they came there in the first place. You don't go to a tournament to have a horrible time.

Definitely say high if you see me man. My crew wears crabs all over our body and I have very short dark blonde hair. I'm in the 180-189 blue belt masters class.