Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I lost my first match at the New York Open by a referee decision and my first match at the Big Apple Open by 5 points and 1 advantage.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. It occurred to me after I lost at the Big Apple Open that I haven't won a gi match in a tournament since December 2011 at the Renzo Open. That's 8 tournaments that I've been eliminated in the first round. The first three times I lost after December 2011 it was by points, decision, or advantages, then I lost by armbar submission, then began losing by points/advantages/decision again.

In 2012, I took a break from May to October to not compete and just focus on improving. I feel that I've improved during training; I have better body awareness, have a better idea of my own strategy, and feel like I've learned some important details in several techniques. I've dropped to featherweight after my weight naturally changed and feel much more comfortable and healthy; I've never had to starve myself or doing anything crazy to make featherweight; I just avoid junk food and alcohol. Despite all these things, it clearly has not carried over in to the competition aspect. I think part of this is the aggression factor. "Pulling the trigger" in terms of going 100% is a tough thing to do, because there is fear of injury, fear of being a jerk, or simply not being used to going that hard if not everyone chooses to compete. I remember when I trained at Shaolin's, he put the people who were competing on one side of the class so they could roll hard against each other without any of the issues I just mentioned.

Additionally, it's been a rough few months of training. The school I was training at is now set to shut down. In the 6 or so months leading up to this, our instructor began teaching less and less, and sometimes did not even show up to class. A purple belt with the key would then hurry in ten minutes late and end up holding an open mat. Slowly, the school turned from a structured atmosphere in to one with more open and less structured training. I left the school about a month ago because it simply wasn't a structure that I could thrive in; I have no ill will towards the school owner and wish him the best in whatever he chooses to pursue.

I don't blame anyone but myself for poor performance. When you step on to the mat, it's just you. If there is something bad going on, it's your job to fix it before you compete, and maybe I should have switched earlier or sought out different resources so I could improve.

I am now training at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Holmdel, NJ. It's only about ten minutes away from my house, and there are several black belts as well as a great brown belt who teach class. I am also allowed to drop in at Renzo's in New York City for no additional fee, so I can complement my training the days I'm working in NYC and can't make it home on time. The switch has been pretty seamless, and some of my friends from my old academy are at Renzo's with me and are happy. Unfortunately, since I'll be attending graduate school at Rutgers University in the fall, I will have to switch schools yet again! The inconsistency of switching schools has definitely slowed me done in some aspects, but I'm much happier now.

I'll be doing the IBJJF NY Summer Open and possibly a Grappler's Quest at the end of July. I'm hoping that this new structured training environment will help me develop a game plan and that I'll be less preoccupied with other factors.

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