Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My match at Gracie Invitational

This weekend I was competing at the Gracie Invitational tournament in London, England. I had actually decided not to participate due to the knee injury I got at the last competition, but I ended up stepping on the mat anyways, and I am really glad I did it.

Preparations for this event was non-existing. My last training was about three months ago due to vacation, popped elbow and latest, a knee injury. The knee has been hurting really bad, and I had only managed a few rounds of sparring with my kids team. If anyone over 50 kilos put their weight on my leg, the pain in the knee was unbearable. I did expect to not compete in London, but since I had bought the plane ticket and we were going nine guys together, I really wanted to do it. So by the deadline for signing up, I paid up the 35 pounds, so I had the chance to step on the mat, just in case I felt like competing on the day. At that point, I honestly thought that I had just thrown that money out of the window and that it would be impossible for me to go through a match with the pain in my knee.

My weight with the gi was around 82-83 kilos at the time of signing up. I thought to myself, that if I was going to spontaneously decide compete on the day, I did not want to worry about cutting weight with no preparation. So I signed up in the -88.3 kilo class. Also, there was only one other competitor there, so having a single shot at the medal was an appealing thought to me, since I didn't expect to have cardio or energy for more than one match anyways :)

On the day of the event, I really felt like stepping on the mat. At least just to say I did it and then tap out if I felt anything in my knee. I spend an hour or so massaging my knee with tigerbalm and then wrapped it up tightly. A few painkillers and a visit from an old friend, adrenaline, took care of the rest, and I decided to go ahead and take the match. In the meantime, about five other black- and brownbelts had signed up in the weightclass, so a single match for the gold was out of the question. Also, I weighed in at a whopping 82.0 kilos, so I was actually under the lower limit of the weight class, oops :D I decided to go ahead anyways, since I was psyched to watch the other guys go at it in the higher belt divisions and I wanted to try it as well.

My opponent was Nicolas Gregoriades, a fellow blogger from Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood, so we were looking at a legendary Battle of the Blogmasters. He is a solid black belt and experienced competitor, also looking quite a bit larger than me, but I was determined to do my best and see how it would go. I had no gameplan going into this match, since I thought trying the deep butterfly halfguard would be impossible with my injured knee. So I would just go with the flow and treat it as a regular roll, focusing on breathing since my cardio is worse than ever these days.

We start the match and pretty quickly I go for my crossgrab single leg setup. I can feel he's got solid base, so I try to switch for a double, but he rolls me over and almost ends up in mount. From here I go deep butterfly/x-guard/footlock-guard crazy for a few minutes before he finally manages to pass my guard and get to mount where he finishes with an ezekiel choke. I had a calfcruncher and a few good sweep attempts from my guard, but it was obvious, that he was just bigger, better and more experienced, and he did a very good job of just basing out of everything I tried. I noticed how he grabbed my sleeve every time I got the x-guard sweep, which prevented me from getting up. Very nice detail, I will implement in my own game right away.

I was surprised to find, that I felt absolutely no pain in my knee at all during the match. I felt nothing when I did the deep butterfly guard and I even had a calfcruncher on him with my bad leg (!!) that didn't hurt me. Thank you, adrenaline ;)

You can watch the match here:

After the match, something magical happend. For the first time in many, many years, I felt like it was really cool to have been competing. My immediate thought was "wow, that was awesome, I wanna do it again", something I have not felt since I was a competing as a blue belt, and something I thought I just did not have in me anymore. So I think I am going to ride that feeling and compete as much as possible, before it goes away again :) For now though, I will take some time off to focus on healing my injuries, so I can get back in training. I am getting really tired of doing nothing.

Also, it was cool to feel that I could hang with the brown/black belt division. Obviously, I got outclasses in this match, but I got the confidence, that in my right weight class (-82.3 or maybe cutting down to -76), injury free, with preparations and some more experience, I can one day do pretty good there. So I am definitely going to give it a shot and compete throughout my brown belt.

Here is a highlight video from the trip, that I have put together:


Matt said...

Very cool post dude. Loved the videos and the honest writeup.

Nic is a tough guy under Roger, so no shame in losing there!

Glad you enjoyed it.

Meerkatsu said...

Hey Christian, you could have beaten me up and say you won the battle of the bloggers there!
I saw you compete out of the corner of my eye as I was trying to focus on my own match. But hey man, you came, you bravely decided to step on the mat despite all the worries, and you walked away a proud and happy man, surely you have 'won' in every other aspect. I salute you!

Liam H Wandi said...

Excelent. It's great that you had that feeling. Just make sure you do all the proper healing before you go heeling again :p

Unknown said...

Hey Christian.
Cool Video!
It was nice to get a chance to (briefly) say "Hi'" to you on the Saturday and then chat with two (and fight with one) of your guys on Sunday in the White Absolute.


Barlow said...

Hey Christian,
Great match Nic is a tough competitor, especially without training.
Can you tell me where you got the patch on the back of your gi from I've wanted that for ages?

Christian Graugart said...

It is from a six deuce tshirt :)

Isaac said...

Hey Christian,

I think you actually could have finished the X guard sweet if your right hand was gripping under the leg and not over, sweeping, then doing the BJJ stand up. Not sure why you were doing the sweep with the arm over? Does that usually work?

Christian Graugart said...

I do both, depending on the situation. Overhooking the leg like an ancle lock allows me to do some other sweeps as well, so yes it was on purpose. But unfortunately it didn't really work that time ;)

Isaac said...

Ahh I see. Cool match bud.

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