Wayguk Fighter – Korean Machado Open of Jiu Jitsu
It’s a long weekend here in Korea, and I guess that means there’s no excuse for not writing a blog update. Monday is not only Valentines Day here, but also Lunar New Years which is sometimes called Chinese New Year. As an interesting note while I am 28 in Canadian age I’m already 30 in Korean age. In Korea you are considered to be one year old wen you are born and your age changes on the new year, not on your birthday. This means that people like me who have late birthdays are two years older in Korean age than we would be at home. Seriously though… 30? I guess I only have a month or two to get my “two year plan” finished.
Yesterday, after some Saturday afternoon training, me and a few friends went to the local jimjillbang (Sauna/bath house) for a relaxing steam. We forgot that Jimjillbanging (not an actual word) is a popular family activity on holidays and it would be crazy busy inside. It was. It was by far the most naked dudes I’ve ever seen in one place, and when you’ve been in as many team change rooms as I have, that’s saying a lot. There was more wangs in there than a Chinese phone book. Yes, this entire paragraph was an excuse to use that joke, and no, that joke is not less funny if you live in Asia. Despite having to be careful not to make actual physical contact with naked Koreans, it was a relaxing way to wind down after training.
Last weekend was the Korean Machado Open of Jiu Jitsu. The last few weeks of training have been spent mostly on Jiu jitsu to get ready for the tournament. Kickboxing and MMA had been put on the back burner a bit but I look forward to getting back at it now that there are no BJJ tournies on the horizon. The tournament went well with Daegu MMA taking both the gi and no-gi team titles. The only problem with the tournament was the heating, or lack thereof. In Korea they tend not to heat some important places like hallways, gyms and bathrooms. Having frost on your toilet seat is even less fun than it sounds. It was so cold in the gym that the mats stayed frozen all day and people actually went outside to warm up for their matches. The referees and just about everyone else at the tournament were wearing winter coats for most of the day. I’m surprised there weren’t more injuries because of the hard mats and people jumping into action with cold, tight muscles.
All six Machado affiliated clubs from Korea were in attendance as well as a few competitors from non-Machado clubs. I was able to get quite a few matches since both of my divisions were fairly big. I had twelve guys in my gi division and sixteen in the no-gi. I approached the tournament with the express goal of looking to submit people. I wanted to attack with submissions instead and have confidence that if I didn’t get it and ended up in a bad position I could fight my back into a good position. I didn’t want to take people down, play it safe and win on points. I already knew I could wrestle, the goal of this tournament was to really test my jiu jitsu. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t looking to rely on my takedowns because after my first match every single opponent sat down as soon as the whistle went. They didn’t even bother tying me up and pulling guard properly, they just sat down right off the bat.
In the gi tournament I won my first two matches and then got submitted via triangle in the semi final. I was able to fend off multiple submission attempts but eventually got caught. I wasn’t particularly happy with the match, there were some things that I did poorly, but overall I was relatively satisfied with my first tournament in the gi. The guy I lost to ended up submitting all four of his opponents on his way to winning the division.
In the no gi I got on a roll early and submitted my first three opponents. This put me in the final against the same guy who beat me in the gi division. I was excited for another shot at him since I wasn’t entirely happy with my performance the first time. I also knew that I was much better at no gi than gi. In our first match my opponent did a great job of using the gi to neutralize my movement and slow me down. My plan for the rematch was to to fight aggressively and dynamically, to use constant movement and pressure to set up passes and submission attempts. The plan worked well. While I wasn’t able to get a submission I won by a score of 6-0 with one advantage point for threatening with a deep kimura.
On the whole, it was a great day. I had six wins and one loss on the day, and more importantly, gained some confidence in my pure jiu jitsu game. I was able to finish the day with two Arm Bars, a North-South choke and a D’Arce choke. I attacked with submissions at just about every opportunity which was the goal going in to the day.
With the tournament over I’m getting back to some more specific MMA training. A little more striking, a little more clinch work and a little more ground and pound. It’s been frustrating trying to get fights lined up in Asia. I’ve been staying in pretty good shape in case a short notice opportunity arises, but so far that hasn’t happened. I had one opportunity to fight in Japan a few months ago but an ankle injury and a being in a cast for a few weeks put an end to that. Since then, things have been pretty dry. After a lot of e-mails and phone calls I may have found something, but it’s a long ways off and far from a done deal. Here’s hoping it works out. Hopefully in one of my next updates I’ll be able to confirm a fight date and let you know how my training is going. Until then, stay cool.
*** all photos by Jin Huang