Tuesday, February 1, 2011

European Open 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal

Got home from Portugal sunday evening and it was a really cool trip. The goal for our team was to get one medal, and we ended up with three, so I am very satisfied. It has been a lot of training and preparations, and it was nice to see that it paid off, and our small team could get some medals at one of the big tournaments out there. I am very proud of all the guys from my team who fought their heart out at this competition, but will write another post on that project later on, they deserve their own ;)

I competed saturday in the brown belt middleweight division. I didn't know my opponent, but a quick youtube search revealed, that I probably shouldn't try to stand up with him, as he had a highlight video with a fascinating amount of judo throws :D I would just follow my plan of pulling guard right away and try to get a sweep or submission from there.

Going into the match, I didn't feel a bit nervous. In some way, I think that I had put all my thoughts and energy into preparing and helping the guys on the team to get ready and try to win a medal, that my own part in this tournament didn't feel as important. Saturday morning when it was my turn to step on the mat, I felt like the project was already over, and I had already succeeded in reaching the goal we set. I knew my division was very tough with a lot of good opponents, but I decided to go in there and do my best.

I was a little late with timing the warmup, since they started my match right on time. The previous two days, there had been some delays, so I wasn't in a hurry with the warmup, which I should have been :) Stretched and warmed up the joints, but didn't have time to get the pulse up and break a sweat, so I would have to do that during the match.

When we started, I went for the guard right away. I have been working a lot on setting up the loop choke, guillotine and getting under my opponent to go for x-guard or deep butterfly halfguard sweeps. Right in the beginning, I actually had a pretty good attempt at the loop choke, but he got out of it despite making some choking sounds. Would have been nice to finish it already there. From there on, he was very aware of his neck, and it was too hard to set him up for the choke. My second plan of getting under him to sweep also failed, since he was constantly staying tight to my legs and keeping very solid grips on my pants. I had to spend most of my time on defending his grips and guardpass attempts, which left little options for me to work my offense.

With my a-game failing, I worked some spiderguard instead. I swept him once with a tripod sweep, but he had a good grip on my pants and scrambled back up, so only gave me an advantage. Later, I had another sweep attempt, that got him out balanced, and I was over him right away to just push him onto his back for the sweep. Lots of wrestling drills for top position helped there for sure.

When I got on top and was ahead on points, my corner shouted to me, that I had three minutes left. I thought I should just stall for a while, but the referees were really quick at giving warnings in other matches I had watched, so I decided to try to open the guard and work from there to make the time go. I have gotten very confident in standing up to open the guard lately, but when I did it this time, I made a small mistake (that I am never going to make again ;)) about my standing posture, which allowed him to drop off and go for a takedown. My balance and sprawl felt pretty good, but again, his grip on my pants was just too strong and eventually he got me down. I scrambled to get up, but couldn't get his grip off and also, we went out the mat and had to restart, which ruined my momentum and last chance to scramble up. Next time. I think I'll be a little more patient inside the closed guard if I am ahead on points.

When he was in my guard again, I could feel that my grip was getting more tired and his didn't seem to do the same. Eventually, he passed my guard to sidecontrol and held on really tight. I managed to escape back to guard and knew my only chance was to submit him, so I tried to go for the neck but it wasn't working and time ran out leaving me defeated by 2-5.

As mentioned, I had no nerves what so ever going into the match. Maybe it is not a good thing, I don't know? I was only a little worried about, how my cardio and strength would do for an eight minutes match, which is pretty long. I have never competed that long before and with the gi, there is even more pressure on the grip strength. Luckily it went pretty well, considering that he felt way stronger than me. I weighed in two kilos under the limit without cutting, so there is a good chance that he walks around a fair bit bigger than me. I was pleased to find out, that I could go for the entire eight minutes with a lasting cardio and grip strength, though. Ofcourse, I was tired in the end, but at least, now I know that I can do it. All those workouts over the last four months really paid off in this match :) You can watch the match here:

Losing didn't bother me at all. I was happy that I could hold my own in the brown belt division at such a big, high level event, and it was an honor to be allowed to compete with the top guys. I know that generating results in competition is a long process, so I am at all not worried about losing along the way. I think my technical level and understanding of the game is good enough to compete at this level, but I need some more experience and with all the weight I have lost, I should maybe consider -76 kilos instead of -82, where some guys are a lot bigger than me now.

Going to the Europeans was all in all a good experience, that I learned a lot from, and of course, we had a very good time in Lisbon both before, during and after the tournament.

I'll be back next year to try my luck again! :)

  • Guard defense worked fine
  • Executed a sweep and a half
  • Cardio and strength lasted eight minutes
  • No nervousness at any time
  • Sidecontrol escape succeeded (old problem, seems improved now?)
  • Made a posture mistake when standing up in guard
  • Cardio and strength could be even better


Georgette said...

Great analytical approach to your critique... you should be very proud of your performance! Parabens!

Brendan said...

my best performance at tournaments come when i focus on coaching my teammates instead of myself. glad to see somebody else experience the same thing.

congrats to you and your team.

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Sacha said...

Nice match. Your opponent seemed very physical, I think you handled his pressure pretty well. But what mistake did you make when standing? How would've you prevented him from going for that takedown?

Matt Albanese said...

That escape was beautiful!

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