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Grapplemania Recap

This blog post will be organized into two questions.

QUESTION THE FIRST: Is it weird that two or three of my favorite matches from this past tournament were ones I lost? 

U.S. Grappling’s Grapplemania tournament just wrapped up. It’s always a fun and well-run tournament, and I decided to do six divisions: all the 30+ divisions in gi and no-gi, all the young man weight divisions gi and no-gi, and both 30+ absolute open weight divisions. (When U.S. Grappling posts the complete results, I’ll tell you how my team did, but for now I just have some anecdotes).

I knew doing six divisions meant I would be really tired by the end of the day, but I didn’t realize exactly how tired. I’d done all eight divisions on two occasions, and only one of those gassed me out this hard.

Part of it was competing against guys with super cardio: one of my opponents that I faced three times used to be a professional runner, and he’s great at pushing the pace to tire you out. Part of it was doing absolute: you’ve got to work pretty hard to stop big guys from passing your guard.


The thing is, when you’re tired, your technique takes over — because it has to. Rickson Gracie has said that he’d exhaust himself before certain training sessions just to be sure he wasn’t muscling anything or using explosive athleticism.

Now, I don’t have muscles or explosive athleticism to begin with, so you can be sure I’m using all technique by the middle of the day.

Don't sweat the technique.

That’s why I think my three favorite matches were ones where I came up short. In each of these matches, I gassed hard. But I was able to fight through that adversity and survive, relying on technique to do so. I always try my best to win, but one of my main goals for the tournament was to focus on the training and learning aspect of competition as well. I’ll give one example of these matches to demonstrate what I mean.

In a six-minute blue belt match, I faced that tough, skilled opponent with great cardio I mentioned before. For the first third of the match, I was doing well. Then, the pace he forced me to fight at made me bonk, and bonk hard. I seriously felt nauseous. That’s when he passed. It got worse from there: he flowed through a series of bad positions for me — took knee on belly, mounted, went back to knee on belly, etc. Ugh.

Out of necessity, I went into survival mode. I told myself, “you have one minute of hard rolling in you during this match. You have to survive the onslaught for three minutes, and then just go full-out and try to submit him.”

And that’s what happened. I didn’t win, of course, and lost by a lot of points, but I was really happy with my survival skills (which are at the core of jiujitsu) and with the fact that I’ve gotten to know what my body is capable of.

No win for you this time!

No win for you this time!

At the end of the day I had three silver medals and one bronze out of seven divisions. Sure, I would have loved to get one gold or pick up one or two more medals, but on balance I’m happy with how I did.


QUESTION THE SECOND: Does anyone know where to buy a giant novelty check?

I ask because the year is half over, and one of my donors and I want to deliver the charity project funds with one of those comically large Ed McMahon-style checks.


Quick recap for those who are new to the blog: I’m donating $10 for every match I win this year to the Women’s Debate Institute. But to encourage others to get involved, I asked people to vote on a second charity to benefit as well. I’ve told some folks this, but the winner of that vote was anti-cancer charity the George Pendergrass Foundation, edging out other worthy causes like Reporters Without Borders, RAINN, the
Wounded Warrior Project and Carolina Basset Hound Rescue.

A few gracious people offered to match my donations, meaning every win this year is worth $25 to charity so far. There are still a ton of cool rewards you can win if you get involved, including a bottle of the rarest and best beer in the world, Westvleteren 12. Check out all the ways you can get involved and help.

And now, let’s tally the results! I won seven matches this time around, adding to the total from before. Here’s where we’re at:

Matches Won This Tournament: 7
Total Won For The Year: 11
Money Raised For Charity: $175
Total Raised So Far: $275

Custom Photoshops: 2
Private Lessons: 1

Next stop: the Atlanta Open on Aug. 31. I can only do one division there (two if I get really lucky), so there won’t be as many matches for me. But Team Royce Gracie North Carolina is going to take a big group of people, so hopefully we can make some noise.


About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

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