Sunday, 24 November 2013

Blackpool Open!

After having such a great time at the Blackpool Open last year, the students and myself were really looking forward to the event again this year; scheduled for August this year, the comp was moved back to November and clashed with the British Open that was running all this weekend.
Krishnan (r)
With the clash in mind, the comp was well attended and ran across three mats and Gus Oliviera and his hard working team of officials and runners did a great job making sure the brackets ran as close to as on time as possible.  The longest delay my students had was ten minutes, hardly a heinous crime as with all the best will in the world, sometimes brackets run over.  Running comps is a thankless task at the best of times, but speaking to people all day from various gyms, the general consensus was that the event ran pretty smoothly, I didn't really see or hear anyone complaining to Gus throughout the day.  This is just my own observations on the event and I haven't been paid by Gus to write a glowing article either :)
It's always nice to be at these comps as it's a chance to catch up with all my old friends and not so young friends, as well as making new friends on the day and today was no exception. I had one white belt and five blues competing and we had the honour of having Jim Mc Sherry join our camp as he travelled up alone to compete and I had the honour of cornering Jim for his fight, where Jim walked away with the gold medal - well done Jim!
With Jim Mc Sherry
Another nice surprise came in the shape of black belt Henrique Santana, who I met when I was out in Abu Dhabi, in fact we sat next to each other on the flight out there; Henrique was reffing and also competing, winning his match in quick time via submission.  Parabens!
It was another competition with medals for the lads, with a bronze for Will Aston, who delivered on his promise of a leg lock, winning his bronze medal fight with a leg lock submission, something we've been drilling in class.  Tim Wilson walked away with a silver medal and fight of the day in my opinion (albeit biased but I'm sure other non CB guys would agree) was an epic blue belt Rooster weight clash with Lee Jones and George Higgins from Checkmat in London.
Lee has competed all through white belt and blue and has never, until yesterday, competed against anyone in his weight bracket; Lee's had to fight two brackets higher and has never once complained, but yesterday he had the chance to showcase his skills against an opponent his weight.  And boy what a match!
Lee took the fight to George and within two minutes was 11-0 up on George and then it turned into a Rocky match! Up on points, George managed to get a foot lock on Lee and looked sunk in tight, but Lee managed to escape and fought on.  George picked up the pace and attacked again with an arm bar and I was screaming at Lee 'don't tap!!' as were all his team mates and the Checkmat guys were screaming at George to finish the fight.  As Lee's coach it was stomach churning to watch, I'm thinking 'don't fucking tap, don't fucking tap!'
Lee defended the attack and pressed on and at one point George stood up in Lee's guard with Lee wrapped round his waist and Lee dropped his feet on the mats and took him down with a sweet takedown/guard pass combo that drove the crowd wild, the atmosphere was electric.
With a minute to go, my heart was in my mouth, shouting at Lee to remain calm, urging the time to go faster, George trying his best to submit Lee and thankfully time ran out and Lee was the winner.  It was an awesome fight, one of the best I've seen, a real rollercoaster ride, my mouth was dry from adrenaline and shouting, a really proud moment for me as a coach and was buzzing for Lee, he really fought with a maturity beyond his teenage years.
George and Lee
After the fight George and Lee shook hands and as such with BJJ, they will no doubt become great friends, something that all BJJ competitors can share with each other. I've fought all round the world and win or lose, I've made some great friends and all through competing against each other. It's a feeling that can only be gained through actual competition, after the fight that's it, friends for life.
Both lads showed great sportsmanship and a real passion for competition, they both gave it 100% and are a credit to both their teams and themselves.
All my students that competed win or lose, all managed to pull something off that they'd been working on personally and what they've been drilling in class, you can't ask for more than that as a coach.  Medals for Voodoo and Factory BJJ swelled the bling tally for Combat Base UK, with some superb matches from both camps
With Gus Oliviera
Massive thanks to Gus for putting on a great show and shouts out to the following people I met on the day, as well as all the guys from Checkmat I spoke to, hope to see you all again soon - Jim Mc Sherry, Gary Savage, Henrique Santana, Adam Adshead, James Nardone, Tony Riley, Dave Kari, Aggie Semtex Drozdzik, George Higgins, Scott Pickering, Karl Etherington, Kathryn Pelling and Dario Bastos.

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