Day six was competition day; in-house and friendly, but still my first comp of the season and my first at blue belt. Also my first after reading Playing To Win. I went in with the desire to win my division but well aware that a loss wouldn’t be too tragic. I also felt confident after subbing a purple belt earlier that week.
The matches were supposed to start a ten but there was no schedule. In doubt, I warmed up. 10AM came and went, and no matches were started. Eventually at 10:30, we all gathered round; Christian explained that there were no schedules yet because he was about to promote some people. I was too focused to really root for the guys being promoted, but cool for them. And then they started with the kids categories.
I looked at the divisions and realized I was in the same one as Florian, and that I would face him in match 2. We were also in the biggest divsion and I would have to win four matches to get gold, whereas most others only needed three. Still managable. No indication of time however, so by 11 I felt cold again, warmed back up. Time flew by and our matches just wouldn’t start. I felt a little pressure but instead of fighting it, I tried to embrace it whenever it came to me, which worked really well.
I tried not too watch to many matches and stay in the zone during the whole time, which started to feel quite long. And it finally happend, I head a voice call “Lohse”. I came closer, they called my name a second time so I shouted back I’d be there in a minute. I grabbed my jacket and stepped on the mat.
My opponent was maybe 35, a little smaller than Florian but bulkier. I’m used to deal with those.
Match starts, my plan was to pull guard fast. He didn’t seem too strong with his stand up so I decided to hang around standing and get good grips before pulling guard. “He’s going to pull guard on you!” shouted Florian. Right, I thought, let me just grip that lap…
and before I knew, my opponent was on his butt with a solid lapel grip. I rode the storm for a couple of seconds, getting grips on his knees and finally creating some distance. I paused and took a deep breath, leaving behind me the fury of the first minute and focused on passing.
After scouting for knee slices and leg drags I eventually got an opportunity for a double under and dove in. I stacked him and went to side control when something started to pull me back. He was using a leg in the lapel to grind my armpit, a last resort technique I use myself. Well aware of my incapacity to compelte the pass with this hurdle, I went back in front of him.
As I searched for an idea to get rid of his lapel grip, he transitioned to, above all, the worm guard that I had in my game plan. I heard people in the room cheer for him and chanting for a sweep. Florian shouted some advices to help me deal with the guard and they prevented him from exploiting it. After some scrambling I got close to another pass; sitting on top of him, I felt his leg pulling my lapel back again. I decided to just be done with it, this was the closest I could get to a pass. I gave in to his pull and rolled on my back, and as the crowd cheered again I gave up two points but landing with him in my closed guard. He let go of the lapel.
I started my attack storm, alternating triangle setups, armbar setups, and choke holds. And then I sensed his posture backing away from me, his left arm within reach. I postured up, grabbed the arm and hip bumped him. As I landed in mount he pushed one of my legs away and I hoped to technical mount. He kept turning and I leaped for his back, securing a seat belt. With my second hook out and unsure if I had the sweep points, I started to work for the back. He went two on one to block my bottom arm and then… just laid there. Without him adjusting, I started to slowly dig my second hook in, eventually getting the four points with less than a minute to go.
He started moving again. Yanking on my arm, he got close to a sneaky wrist lock but I managed to pull my arm out. As I locked a good collar choke, someone shouted there were only ten seconds left. I decided not to go for the choke and save some energy for the next match and just maintained it until the end.
After some recovery, I went to the judges table to check when my next fight would be. “Are you Chris Hansen?” asked the girl who managed the mat.
“No.” I said. “But… why did you just fight? I didn’t call your name!” she said, in complete disbelief.
And after some checking, it turned out my opponent was one category below me and that I had just fought instead of someone else who’s name wasn’t even remotely close to mine. To be fair, Florian told me he also heard my name when she called him out.
I got back to rest and waited for my actual fist match to start.
I had to wait a solid hour before getting called again. I didn’t feel too tired but the wait started to wear on my mental. My new opponent was only a little smaller than me, and a little bulkier. Fine.
We started some grip fighting, hit our heads, laughed it off, and started again. I decided I would not get pulled down again, grabbed a lapel and sat down. After a second of scouting my open guard, I gave him an opportunity to drop into my closed guard and he took it. His posture felt solid and his hand placement prevented me from attack storming him. I waited for a while, as did he. One minute into the fight, I started fighting his hands and his posture to start attacks. I discarded the two first opportunities for being to risky and took the third, another hip bump.
Exactly like during the fist fight, he pushed my knee away as soon as he landed but before I could hop to technical mount, he had me in half guard. I hate top half guard. I felt clueless as he put the lockdown on. Florian shouted me to drive backwards and I went forward. I could feel he knew what he was doing from there. Then I got swept. Bottom half guard is only slightly better on my list of positions. I grabbed a lapel as he started to pass and fenced him off with the same technique that my first opponent has used on me. I felt damn safe with my arm straightened out there until he, of course, went for an arm bar.
At first it was off my elbow so I could turn away and maintain the lapel control. But some seconds later, he spinned someway or the other and suddenly the arm bar was on. I tapped. First time in competition.
It was a moderate relief when my opponent, Chris, submitted everyone else in the division and received his purple belt right afterwards. I lost my focus in that top half guard and paid for it.
After the black belts went at it for a friendly competition, open mat started. Without any reason to hold back, I finally rolled my heart out. It was especially great to roll against the instructors of the camp. It was my first time rolling with black blets in the gi.
First off was Daniel. I don’t exactly remember how he blew by my guard but I landed in side control (bottom of course) pretty early and had to give up mount right afterwards. I was abble to defend once and push him back to side control but relinquished mount soon afterwards. I was in rollercoaster mode for some time before he finally submitted me.
Probably the most fascinating roll I had. I started in guard again but Daniels posture was ridiculous. Judokas have a strong base, but Daniel felt like a rock in my guard, crushing down on me. As I opened my guard to look for new opportunities, he passed.
And then, he moved, slowly. I had time to understand everything he did, but he was so tight, so heavy on me… I couldn’t see a single opening for me to escape. No actually, there was always one opening, and that is where his game is brillant. With mostly crossfacing, he pressured me into giving up position after position. “Ok, he estblished half guard, but if I turn my head while he moves to side control, maybe I can create some space”. But of course, there was never space. He advanced and advanced until I was mounted. I think he tried to make me tap with shoulder pressure during th first roll but i could take it, so he subbed me in some other way.
The last submission he used on me is the one he used against Kari in the black belt finals, and the one he had explained just before we rolled: from top side control or half guard, he isolates an arm and fakes an americana. But as the arm stretches out, he switches to an arm bar. A crazy efficient part of the kimura trap system.
Talking about his roll with Keenan, he said this very interesting thing:
He simply is never there. He never meets strength with strength. When you push, he pulls. You think there’s a leg you can grab, and before you form the thought the leg is gone.
Stupid judo guy reminded me that my closed guard is not that strong at all. Ingthor simply sat there, and whatever attack I threw at him from my closed guard he fended off, passed my guard while doing it and proceeded to kimura me. After trying every sequence of attacks I know from my strongest position, I gave up.
I may not have been too impressed by his lesson, but rolling with Luiz was something else. As he sat in front of me, ready to start, he looked at my legs and said “Long legs… I bet you triangle a lot”. I grinned and slapped hands. He didn’t move, quietly sitting there. I wasn’t going to attempt passing, so I grabbed his foot and started to put a DLR hook in. “You like to work from your back… that’s a good game!” he said, smiling. I started to smile less: he was reading my game like an open book.
As I entered a berimbolo he moved away from it, grabbed my ankle and started a foot lock. I looked at him and said “…and I have flxiable ankles”. He let go of the lock and proceeded to mount me. Before I could even start defending, he caught one of my wrists and made me tap. A little later, between a sliced calf and another wrist lock, I ended up in his guard. he overhooked my arm, paused and asked me if I attended his lesson. I told him I knew his arm bar was comming. The same arm bar that I never get, despite being often in that position. I rotated my wrist, twisting my elbow to an angle where he couldn’t pressure on it. Or at least where I never could, but he did. There’s probably something about this technique that I’m still not getting.
We chatted a little about our lifes afterwards until I made it for the showers of the Grøndal center for the last time. At least for this camp.