On Saturday 20th August 2011 a group of 5 BJJ enthusiasts representing the best BJJ gym in Manchester: The Labs - CFS Manchester & Fighting Fit Manchester got in a car and travelled to The North West Open, the best organised Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition since the history of ever! More about the event later.
Everybody arrived in a great mood and ready to Grab & Pull. Don was still not too sure about his knee (which had been bothering him in the 2 weeks leading up to the event) and, unfortunately, a quick warm-up round confirmed his fears. He sat this one out.
Andy "The BJJ Dummy" Rhind and Mike Thomas both fought very intelligently and left their all on the tatami. Andy lost a takedown early in the match and fought very hard and continuously from his guard but his opponent throttled all his attacks and won by two points. I lost count of Andy's attacks after 12, he was a real BJJ Energiser Bunny.
Mike's opponent, who went on to medal in the category, worked hard to pass Mike's open guard - something Mike has been working hard on building and developing. I was very happy to see Mike's guard recovery techniques and escapes to turtle. One of the hardest things for white belts to understand and physically express is distance and fluid transitions. I was very impressed with Mike's posting, shrimping and recomposition of the guard.
James "The Strangler" Stafford was in it to win it. He worked very hard and had a brilliant ear. I'm sure his nerves were playing havoc with him, but he maintained enough cool to get the grips, work his vicious kuzushi and dominate in three our his 4 fights, winning the bronze via submission. In fact, I think James submitted all the opponents he won against! Here's his fight for the bronze medal.
And finally, yours truly, Liam "The Part Time Grappler" got his first BJJ medal since starting this sport back in 2004(ish). I fought twice, winning once and losing once. I learnt lots and lots from both matches, which of course I will talk about in future posts. I was actually so impressed with my first opponent Mr Paul Rice that I had a good chat with him afterwards and coached him thru his final bout. Paul is not just a very technical fighter but a very sound guy. I look forward to meeting him and his team at future events.
Here is my fight where I lost to Paul (here's an exercise - watch how and how often he strips my grips!):
And here is me winning the bronze medal with a loop choke:
As for the event, what a pleasure. Everyone who knows me knows I hate competitions, with a vengeance! They are always such a drag and never flow. They always run late and are short of refs, officials and medics.
Not this one! Gus Oliviera and his team at Grab & Pull promotions did a superb job. The day before the comp, at exactly 12noon, all participants received a schedule of the events and details of when they should be at the venue to way in. From the moment we walked in, Gus and his team (officials had headsets and refs had purple t-shirts) were all over the show, taking care of every little detail! I was very impressed.
And how about those beautiful medals :)
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
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