Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big win at NAGA in Paris this weekend

In the weekend, I competed for the last time this year and for the last time in the adult age division (I will be 30 next year). NAGA was holding a tournament in Paris for the second time and we went a team of fifteen guys there to compete. All in all, it went really well and we took home a total of thirteen medals.

I had initially decided to only do the gi division, but when we got there, I signed up for the no-gi as well. It was a long day of waiting before I was on, and there seemed to be a bit more adrenaline than usual, I don't know why. I managed to channel it into concentration and focus of stepping on the mat and performing.

First up was the expert no-gi middle weight division. My opponent was a french black belt and judging from his first match, it was going to be an extremely difficult task for me to beat him. He was superbly athletic and played a very aggressive and powerful game. I decided my only chance - as it usually is against bigger, stronger guys - was to try and take the explosive factor out of the match and utilize my guard to stress him. I pulled guard right away to avoid his wrestling and managed to keep him from passing for the entire match. It was 0-0 by the end and I had to try something, so I set up a bodylock sweep and found myself suddenly playing his game of explosive wrestling. He immediately judo tossed me and I knew I had to just get back to my guard to survive. After 2 minutes over time, the referee gave me the decision. I don't know if I agreed with him, but I didn't mind winning :D Sometimes, the marginals fall to my side, sometimes to the opponents - that's just how the game is.

The final was against a guy who had won his first two to get there. I had one less match, so I was hoping I had more energy than him. Unfortunately, he was also really strong and keeping him in my guard required a lot of leg strength. Luckily, I didn't had to work from there for the full match, since he tried to jump over my guard, which allowed me to set up a nice heelhook to which he tapped immediately as I locked it in. I like to compete with heel hooks, it is really an equalizer for the smaller guy and it suits my game perfectly. I think at the expert level, people are good enough to know the danger and when to tap anyways.

The gi division was black and brown belts together. I had really hoped to compete against a black belt, but instead I got another interesting challenge in meeting the guy I lost to in London a month earlier. I had been working hard in the gym on closing the holes in my game that he exploited last time, and it was exciting to test it out and see if I could beat him this time.

Everything worked pretty well and I managed to defend the moves he caught me with last time. The match was only six minutes so I had to take some chances to try and score, and at one point I try to pass to halfguard to get an advantage, but he manages to flip me over. It was a little stupid that I lost my balance there on that sweep, it shouldn't had happened. Wasn't too bad though, as I swept him back a few seconds after for the final score of 2-2. This time he got the referee's decision and I was pleased to confirm, that I had evolved and improved my game since I fought him last time.

It was a really good tournament and very well organized. NAGA definitely knows what they are doing in terms of organizing events and it was a breath of fresh air to compete there after some really badly organized tournaments lately. Also, I liked the rules very much - I could wear my rip stop gi and cup as well as reap the knee and do any submission I wanted. Nice! I took home a giant belt for winning the expert adult division and it looks cool hanging on my surfboard in the gym now :D

Quick conclusion on NAGA Paris:

Good things:
  • Won expert division, pretty nice!
  • Guard worked great, not passed for ten consecutive matches now.
  • Relaxed and cardio felt good
  • My students did awesome
  • Improvements in my game against same opponent
  • Held my own against bigger guys who had weighed in the day before

Bad things:
  • Got swept where I shouldn't have been
  • Not much else, really :)

Paris was awesome, what a beautiful city it is in the fall with the yellow leaves all over the old streets. We had some great days there, walking around town and checking it out. It was nice to be back to a place that has almost symbolic value to me, since it was the first destination on my around the world trip earlier this year.

This was my last competition this year. I have decided to skip Swedish Open next week, first of all because I simply just need a break after five competitions around Europe in six weeks and second because I will be coaching my team of more than 40 guys and girls fighting there. It has been some great experiences and I will do a write up on it all some time next week :)


Anonymous said...

Nice job, Christian. You looked really relaxed and focused and your BJJ looked awesome. Congratulations!

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