This past weekend I had the great opportunity to compete at what is becoming one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, Abu Dhabi Pro Trials. The Abu Dhabi Pro Trials started about 3 years ago; this tournament holds trials all over the world including Brazil, Japan, China and the US. The trials draw in jiu jitsu’s best athletes from each of these countries to win the ultimate prize, money and an all-expenses-paid round trip ticket to fight in the U.A.E against the rest of the world’s top jiu jitsu athletes.
Just so you know my background, I grew up wrestling my whole life throughout elementary school, middle school & High School. When I started to train jiu jitsu about 3 years ago, I brought my wrestling back ground with me. Initially, I relied on speed, muscle and holding a position just as I did in wrestling. Over these past 3 years of training, I learned that strength is not necessary in jiu jitsu in order to submit your opponent. I also learned from being a wrestler that wrestlers rely on nothing more than their wrestling to beat a jiu jitsu athlete.
This past Saturday my first match was against a wrestler. I knew from the moment we touched hands & by the way he was loaded on his feet, meaning he was ready to shoot on me that this guy was a wrestler. Within 30 seconds of the match he shot a double leg on me & ended up taking me down, as I went down I slid my legs into my favorite & most comfortable position half guard. This is where I remembered what it was like to be a wrestler again, from the very moment I land in half guard my opponent stalled. He laid heavily on my hips, preventing me from progressing into any other position. I love the half guard position & train it every day, but Saturday I ran out of tricks to try to sweep my opponent. I felt like I was stuck under a rock. I tried multiple sweeps none of which were successful. I remember feeling like I would never get this guy off me. Towards the final moments of the match, I was able to reverse the position which resulted in a single leg take-down. At that point the score was 2-2. However, we both ended up on our knees when he attempted to apply a choke & swept me to my side establishing side-control. This resulted in the matching ending with a score of 5-2. Unfortunately, he stalled throughout the entire match. It was so bad that the referee called him for stalling 3 times and I remember thinking to myself the rest of the day, “What else could I have done? Did I not do something right? How can I train my game to better prepare myself for a wrestler?” Now at 12:16 am on Sunday morning, what I am feeling is, there was not much more that I could have done. I used all my techniques, I used strength, and I used my conditioning. My coach’s have taught me a lot and I used all the tools they gave me to try to win that match. What I was reminded of through this experience was that you cannot win them all & you have to take every roll you get and use it as a training experience. You learn from every match, win or lose.