Week Beginning 3-29-09: Pan Ams Silver Medal
The short version is that I won 2 matches and lost in the finals to secure the silver medal. This is by far my best placing in such a huge tournament. The matches will be posted to my youtube account: lawjitsu650. Pictures are on facebook.
The long story is a bit more complicated:
Match 1: vs. Chris from NU: Chris was tall and lanky and I had scouted him online before the fight. He liked to play closed and spider guard to set up the triangle choke with his long legs. This is exactly the type of opponent who gave me fits at middle heavyweight when I was a blue and later a purple belt. Not today. I pulled half guard and swept him. When I got to the top he was able to squirm away and we were restarted on our feet. I pulled half guard again and eventually transitioned to butterfly guard for the simple sweep. This time while I was on top I passed his guard and secured the brabo choke for the tap.
Match 2 vs. Kaminiski (sp?) from Cia Paulista: This opponent was very game. I began by pulling half guard. He almost completed a knee slide pass, but I defended and was able to sweep him with a single leg from my half guard. As I went for a submission, he came to his knees and fled out of bounds. We were restarted standing. I pulled half guard again, and grabbed the single leg a second time. This time he defended better and I had to finish the single leg with an Uchi Mata (Photo Credit to Elisabeth). He able to escape back to his feet again. I pulled guard again and swept him a third time with the single leg from half guard. With time running out, I passed his guard, but he was able to reverse. I put him in my half guard and he almost passed to mount as time ran out. I won 7-4 (the ref was quick to give him mount points)
Match 3 vs. Joe Street Sports: I pulled half guard right away, but this time, my opponent was ready for it. He secured both underhooks and all I could do was get a lockdown to stall him. I became impatient after about 90 seconds and I tried for a Bridging sweep. This was a huge mistake. As soon as I released the lockdown, my opponent passed my guard for 3 points. I was able to scramble out and put him back in my half guard, but again, he was quick with the knee slide pass. I defended the pass and went for the single leg sweep that was working so well earlier. I got to my knees, but my opponent defended by jumping his hips over the top to reverse me to my side. At this point I am down 8-0 and there is less than 2:00 to go. I take a chance, exposing my arm to bait the escape. Unfortunately, his arm attack was better than my escape was. I defended for a while, but eventually he secured the tap.
Notes: On the medal podium, Joe’s teacher (See redbelt movie) told me that I had beaten Joe’s teammate at the US Open in October by 12 points. The team had a video of that match and when they saw my name in Joe’s bracket they figured we would probably meet in the finals if he was to win gold. For the week before the tournament, Joe practiced nothing but defending against a guy who pulls half guard like I do. That is why he was so quick with the guard pass. I fell right into his plan.
I reviewed the tape of all of my matches with Marco and we have some things to work on, as always. First, I need to diversify my strategy a bit. Opponents are becoming wise to my game plan. I need to start incorporating different guards like Butterfly and X guard to keep my opponent off balance. Secondly, if a guy has double underhooks in my halfguard and I have a lockdown, I am to stay there until he releases one of his under hooks to defend the lockdown.