Monday, 21 April 2014

10 Years of BJJ - My Jiu-Jitsu Journey - Part 3 (My First Competition)

(This is part 3 of this series. If you haven't seen part 2 it can be found here.)

So I competed for the first time...
My first ever competition was on Sunday, October 10th 2004. The competition itself wasn't even a BJJ competition, but a traditional Ju-Jitsu competition run by the NJJC (National Ju-Jitsu Council). Back in 2004, I don't think there were any BJJ competitions run in the UK, or very few. I think the only BJJ competition to run at that time would have been the Gracie Invitational, which runs at the SENI show in London. My first time ever competing under total IBJJF rules and with submissions was at a competition Braulio put on himself at his club back in February 2008, but that is a story for another time.
The competition itself was held at the Perdiswell Leisure Centre, Worcester, which is about a three hour drive from my house. Actually, the night before was my friend’s birthday party, and after it finished we got in the car and drove straight to the hotel in Worchester, which was around a five minute drive from the venue.
They always say the first time is always the worst, well that cannot be truer in this case, as I pretty much had no sleep that night, as I was just so nervous.
When I woke up in the morning, I was very nervous about what was about to happen, as I had never competed before, and didn't know what really to expect. So, when we finally get to the venue, the place is packed, and I mean packed! Hundreds and hundreds of kids were there to compete, and at this point my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest.
The hall at the leisure centre was actually pretty big, and I think there must have been at least eight mats running, maybe more.
Now, in BJJ your category is based on your rank, age, and weight. However, in this competition it was only based on weight, and each weight division went up in fives e.g. -35kg, -40kg, -45kg etc. So, if you were pretty big for your age, you would be stuck in the people who are way older, stronger, and more experienced than yourself. Which in theory sounds okay, but if you were big for your age, as I was, it didn't seem really all that fair.
Another thing I can always remember was the massive waiting time, I mean literally hours. All the categories were pretty big as well; I remember categories with 40+ people in them. So, when your category was called you would pretty much all sit around mat and wait to be called, which sometimes could take a while.
As this wasn't a BJJ tournament, kids weren't allowed to do submissions, so you could only win by points. There might have been a rule that if you accumulate ten points then you automatically win, but I'm not really all that sure.
So after hours of waiting around twiddling my thumbs, I was finally called to fight. I remember it pretty clearly, I was in the -45kg division as a nine year old (yes, I was pretty fat as a kid) and the guy I was against must have been at least thirteen, maybe fourteen. This moment was probably the most nervous/scared I have ever been; I don't think anything else has probably come close. It sounds a little bit stupid saying that now, but I was actually terrified.
The fight itself was complete domination; the other guy just totally wrecked me. In the first ten seconds the guy gave me a hip throw, and the side of my face smacked the mat giving me a nose bleed. After that, the guy landed straight into side control. When the referee saw I had a nose bleed he stops the match, and calls the medics over to clean up my nose, and we restart in side control. Basically, back then I couldn't escape side control even if my life depended on it. Back in those days I didn't even know what a shrimp was. Shortly after the guy transitions to mount, and stays there until the fight was over.
If I'm honest I was just glad the fight was over, and I could go home. That feeling of adrenaline was nothing like I had experienced before or since. But on the plus side I've never been that nervous in competition again.
In reality I wasn't that disheartened, I still carried on training and competing, and I got better as time went on.
I'll stop there for now, and I'll pick up the story next time.
I hope you guys enjoyed!
Catch you later,