NY Open update
Well I am sure you are all waiting for an update on the NY Open. Was it my moment of triumph? Did I go down in defeat? Did I get so nervous that I was in the bathroom puking when they were calling my name and never made it to the mat? Read on to find out!
I drove to a training partner’s house early on Saturday morning and we went to NYC together. We got there early enough to watch a training partner go. He lost his first match by one point and then we had a lot of waiting left to do until our divisions (mine was still about 2 hours away, his was 5) so we settled in to watch the action.
As we were sitting there I was looking around the venue at the other girls who were most likely competing. I was surprised to find that instead of the usual panic and fear I feel when looking at potential opponents, I just felt mild curiosity. I have met so many BJJ people recently, including lots of girls, that I am learning not to feel intimidated by them. BJJ people are awesome, whether you are fighting them or not.
My coach arrived shortly after we settled in and came up to give us pep talks. We talked about game plans and being aggressive and fighting hard. All that good stuff. I was so paranoid about making weight that I kept checking my weight to figure out if I could eat or drink anything. Nothing would have been worse to me than doing all that hard work and then missing weight (I weighed in about 3 pounds under but was still paranoid until the last second).
It came close to time for my division so I headed down to the bullpen area and tried to do some warmups. I talked to my coach again, tried my best to settle in and then continued to try to figure out who was in my bracket. Again, I was surprised that I still didn’t feel the fear that I have become accustomed to at tournaments. I felt nervous and anxious but I wasn’t scared of the other girls (yes this is how I often feel at tournaments).
They started calling girls for my division and I knew I would be the first match because I was seeded first. I didn’t realize that we were going right then but whatever, better to get it over with. I think the nerves definitely ratcheted up a notch when I stepped on the mat. I forgot to shake the ref’s hand, I almost walked in at the wrong spot, I was a total mess. I was so concentrated on attacking her first, that I was antsy and ready to go.
Finally the match started. As soon as we bumped fists I moved and tried to see if I could go for the double. She got grips high right away so I knew it wasn’t there and moved on to my alternate plan of two handed lapel trip/throw thing (it’s hard to explain). I went for it and it sort of worked but not all the way so it ended up being more like a guard pull.
I don’t really remember how but she got to half guard and then passed to side control. Dammit. I hate side control. I hate side control more than any other position in jiu-jitsu. I will happily give someone my back instead just because I hate trying to get out from under side control. I managed to get my outside arm between her body and mine and I was going to hook her arm and shoot out from under her. I like this escape because I find it is easier to move myself than to move my partner off of me.
As I went for the escape she went for mount and I turned to my side and got up into turtle. I love turtle. It’s been my go-to defense for a while now. I am very comfortable there. Unfortunately for me, she seemed to be quite comfortable attacking from there. As I rolled up she followed close and tight, got a grip on my lapel and threw on one hell of a clock choke. I tried briefly to roll and push and get her off me but ultimately I could not and I had to tap.
I tapped. I lost. I spent months training for, dieting for and visualizing this moment. It was supposed to my moment of victory and I blew it. I stood there as they raised her hand, hugged my opponent and congratulated her and then walked off the mat feeling angry and defeated. My coach gave me my stuff and told me we’d talk in a few minutes. By now he knows I typically need some time to pull myself together after I lose a match.
I found an empty set of steps and sat there and sulked. I tried to think of what I had done wrong. I felt like I had probably panicked when she got that clock choke and I should have kept fighting through it. I thought about how my match had probably lasted a minute or less and how maybe this was the final sign I needed to show me that I am just not good enough to compete.
I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face and headed back to where my teammate was sitting. He told me good job and I told him I wasn’t quite ready to be ok about it. He understood and headed off to take a break (he had nicely sat there with everyone’s stuff while I competed). I sat there with my head hung low thinking about how awful I had did.
My coach came up to talk to me and started with “I know there is nothing I can say to make you feel better yet…” and I immediately started tearing up. I hate this. I am not a crier at all in everyday life but it seems like as soon as something goes wrong in BJJ, I turn into the stereotypical weeping woman. I feel bad that he has to deal with this but I think he is getting used to it by now.
I told him that I was upset because I felt like I had panicked and tapped and I know I can do better than that. He told me that he doesn’t care if we win or lose, he was happy that I executed the game plan (going right in and going for the takedown) and that I didn’t give up but kept trying to fight when I got in a bad position. He told me that I just got caught and that’s something you can’t really train for.
I told him I shouldn’t have panicked in the clock choke and should have kept fighting. He told me it looked pretty tight to him (my teammate backed this up when he returned). I sat there thinking about what he said. I thought about that clock choke. Although I am familiar with them and have drilled them and occasionally go for them myself, they are not something I see a ton of while training. Was my defeat due to something as simple as a lack of experience and not because I had messed up on some epic level?
In the end I have to accept that this is the case but I also know that I need to do some more hardcore training to get ready to compete. I also need to continue with my healthy diet because I think I am still a weight class over where I should be.
I ran into one of the coaches at my gym on Friday night when I was out getting supplies for Saturday at the grocery store. He asked me how I was feeling about the tournament and I told him I was ready. That I had trained harder than I ever had before and I felt I could win. He told me that no matter what happened that was training that would not go to waste. I keep telling myself that as I try to not let myself got bogged down in self-pity and doubt. I learned a lot in the last couple of months of training for this tournament and I have made significant progress since my last tournament in February when I basically panicked and shut down.
It is really hard not to feel awful about losing and I am dreading going in tonight and having to tell everyone about it but I am not ready to give up yet. I feel like there is a breakthrough coming and I just have to work hard and keep training and I’ll get there.
Ironically I ran into a friend of mine later in the evening and she told me I had a good match. I told her that no, I had done pretty awful. She said “hey you went out there, that’s more than most people will do”. I remembered my own words from Friday and smiled at her and said “you’re right”.