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IBJJF New York Open: Reflection

The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) hosts several of the biggest Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the world, including the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Nogi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship, European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship.The IBJJF uses the rule set of the Confederação Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu. The tournaments provide space to test your Jiu-Jitsu and meet athletes from around the world.

After competing in a couple local No Gi comps in Nova Scotia I decided to join some of my teammates and register for the IBJJF New York Open. I trained hard and went in with the mindset of: I know what I know. So do that. The best I can. I definitely felt waves of nerves and excitement leading up to the event as I honestly had no idea what to expect.

When we arrived in New York I noticed how calm two of my teammates were as they settled into they’re competition routines. This comes with time and experience. There are many variables that factor into preparing yourself for competition: developing a game plan, drilling, strength and conditioning, psychology, weight, diet, rest, age, etc.

If an athlete does not make weight the day of the comp, they will be disqualified. I chose to go up a division from Feather (119-129 lbs) to Light (130-141.5 lbs) to eliminate the stress that goes with trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight. I ended up weighing 128 lbs (with Gi) before stepping on the mat. I know now that I should be able to just stay in Feather and be fine. As for age, I am 31 and could have signed up for Masters 1 but chose to go where the fights were and signed up as adult. I think I will keep doing this.

I didn’t really have a set game plan. I knew I would pull guard or go for a take down if it presented itself. Then hope I could move the situation to the techniques I drilled. I did go for the omoplata like I wanted but lost it on the way. I have to remind myself that I am a white belt and there are no expectations but to go out there and do my best. The more I compete the more I will iron out the wrinkles and begin to really develop my game.

There were ten girls in my division. I got a Bye and then my first match the girl did not show up and was disqualified. This took me to the semi-finals without having a match. I went the full five minutes and finished with the girl in my guard but I lost to points. She hunkered in to stall and I was unable to finish a collar choke (too much space) and unable to get my legs out to try other things. Being honest with myself, I didn’t know what to do and felt stuck and focused too much on going for the collar choke. Of course I felt some disappointment but its moments like this, win or lose, that propel me to work harder. The next day my teammate went over what I could have done in that situation and drilled it with me.

Competition really tests your Jiu-jitsu and it clearly presents the areas you need to work on. The worst possible outcome of competition is that you learn something. It is too easy in life to avoid discomfort or to challenge yourself. In Jiu-Jitsu, we purposefully put ourselves in terrible situations every class and then work to find our way out/through. We sit with discomfort regularly, we breath, and then we seek opportunities to pass and move forward. I really think this cycle creates resilience and positive change in your mentality and approach to life on and off the mats.

The most amazing part of this whole experience was training at Marcelo Garcia’s over the week following the comp. He reminded everyone on Monday that even if you win it is important to analyze your matches and to work harder because it could have been one little detail or a couple extra seconds that could have changed the outcome of your match. You can always do better.

Watching my teammates and the athletes at Marcelo’s train, and being a part of that, gave me a deep sense of self and gratitude for everything I have overcome to be there and for being able to have so much fun training at a world class gym. Every person at that gym made me feel welcome and comfortable. I cannot wait to get back to Halifax BJJ to train, share what I learned in New York, and start to work on the things that I really need to work on. And the best part of Jiu-Jitsu is that there will always be lots to work on! Oss.

Marcelo Garcia teaching Advanced 1 No Gi.

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