Back when I started watching tournaments, this one didn't even exist. After only its third year, the Ontario Open is turning into one of the biggest tournaments in the GTA. As I mentioned, there were 22 female white belts altogether. It is a very well organized and professional tournament. Organizers even kindly dealt with all the questions on the Facebook event page without once condescendingly referring people to the website, where most of that information was already.
It was held at Seneca College in Toronto, which also has an ice rink used by the community. So there were a bunch of adorable little asian girls running around. In the women's change-room, I was commenting to one of the BJJ women -- I'm not sure who, but we'll say it was Kelly -- about her french-braided pigtails.
Ashley: Oh! You braided your hair!
Kelly: Actually, a teammate did it, I don't know how.
Ashley: Me neither! I was trying this week, but it was too much work.
Little Girl chimes in: I can braid my hair! I put it in a bun, too.
Ashley: Good for you!
Little Girl: Why are people wearing that? [Referring to gis.]
Ashley: Because we do Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Little Girl: What's that?
Ashley: It's a ground-based martial art. [I always struggle to describe BJJ, nevermind to a seven year old.]
Little Girl: So you fight?
Ashley: Yeah, I guess so.
Little GIrl: Do you become enemies? [How adorably hilarious!]
Ashley: Actually, we become really good friends!
And it's true.
I ended up weighing in at 152.8. I thought for sure I would be over 153 the way I was eating after I decided to chill out about it and go into medium-heavy! Not to mention the size of breakfast I had. (Note: Just because you decided that you're not going to continue trying to lose weight to make a lower bracket, do not eat a massive breakfast the morning of the tournament. Especially if you are prone to gassiness.)
Anyway, my bracket had three girls total. I had a bye the first round. So there was only one match to gold -- LOL.
I knew that no matter what happened in that match, I was going to do the absolute division. So, I was guaranteed two matches. (Another one of the reasons why I decided weight-loss stress wasn't worth it.) They had split the absolute into -141 and +141. The bracket I would be in had the potential for 9 girls. Awesome!
I felt really, really clumsy during the warm up. And gassy. But mostly clumsy. I tried to not let it bother me. I told myself it would be different when I'm standing out there.
The first match, against Caitlin, in my weight division was the hardest for me. I got her in my closed guard and that's pretty much where we stayed. Rolling with this girl was a lot different than the girls at my first tournament. She felt heavy, tight, and strong. I was so focused on getting the flower sweep [which I had been trying to refine since the last tournament] that I didn't much think of moving to her back. I tried to triangle her, as I had a trapped arm, but she stopped it. I think I could have got it, if I really wanted. I wish I had really stuffed the arm on that one and persisted. I also keep trying to force hip bumps for some reason, which doesn't work. No spider guard came up because she was no where near breaking my guard, and that's the only time I move into it.
It was a boring match. (Sorry, ref.)
With about a minute or so left, the ref says, "There's no points, and no advantages. You have to show me who wants it more." In my head I think, "I want it more!!!" So I reef on her arm and finally go for an armbar. She did the roll whereby I end up face down. I had control of her arm and spent the last 15 seconds or so of the match holding it, trying to get it, and not wanting to let her gain an advantageous position, or worst yet, points.
Lessons: Should maybe better develop a closed guard attack game. Or work on moving out of it without feeling threatened!
Win by advantage. Won the bracket. Hard to be proud of that one. But I still smiled for the camera.
Absolute begins. Seven of the nine girls who were above 141 lbs signed up. Awesome! (Of the large number of girls under 141, only two signed up. I would go on a ranting diatribe here, but I will save that for another time.)
My first match of the absolute was against the other girl who was in my bracket. She is very nice, but had only been training for two months. I am saving this description for another post and maybe more ranting.
Win by ref's decision.
Lesson: Get better so I can deal with crazy new people.
I went against Kelly, who seems to be a relative regular on the competition scene, though I know she was out for a while due to knee surgery. I ended up getting my beloved tripod sweep. She ended up with butterfly hooks, which I stuffed and started to pass, but she got one leg out. At this point I realized that she could get closed guard, and I thought to myself, "What am I doing! Don't let her close her legs!" So I got over her one leg and started passing her half-guard. She was trying to ezekiel choke me, and since I'm not really familiar with this, it sort of threw me off. I wasn't really sure if I was in trouble, or how to best deal with it. I think I could have just popped my head out, but I didn't. I ended up compromising my base to try to stop it. Fortunately she didn't bridge into me.
I passed, and had her in side for a very long time. Eventually I sloppily got her onto her side. I had her arm and sat back for the armbar without my leg over her head. There was a lot of flopping around after this, and I wasn't very aggressive with controlling the bottom half of her body. But I kept her arm the whole time (HUGE improvement from last tournament!) and finally managed to finish.
Lessons: Work on attacks from side, transition to mount from side, transition to armbar from side, finishing the armbar in terms of controlling the rest of their body (and getting the hands apart).
After I beat Kelly, she said, "Good luck in the final!"
My internal response was, "Oh god, the final? is she sure? oh dear."
Waiting for the final match to begin, I was letting myself get nervous and get wrapped up in the idea of a FINAL MATCH **echo, echo, echo***. But I stopped myself, and with a coach reassuring me that I don't need to be nervous, I instead got myself excited to just roll again. It was going to be fun!
Another thing that I improved on mentally this tournament was being able to watch other matches. At my first tournament, I had 0 interest -- I didn't want to see what I was up against!! But this time I comfortably watched Andrea and Caitlin, one of which I would be against in the final. I watched as Andrea was doing some takedown that I have no idea what it is, but she grabs a leg at some point. I saw her pull this off earlier in the tournament. I knew that if I went against her, there was no way I was letting her do that. Andrea won, so it was her and I in the end.
Her style was to start the match by staying where she was, and squat with her legs square. I also saw her do this before, and knew that I was going to make sure that I was in control and engaging how I wanted to. So as soon as she did this, I started moving towards her. Which maybe was what she wanted, but it's what I wanted too, so it worked.
I pulled open guard right away and ended up with closed guard very quickly. She had excellent posture, and was superb at standing in guard. Usually when people do this, it is really obvious to me that it's coming so I would open my legs and start making space to play more open guard or spider. But next thing I know I'm hanging off her hips. Very unusual. Eventually I jump off to pull open guard again and go for the tripod sweep.
She ended up in turtle, and I had a grip on her collar. I should have went more aggressively for the clock choke, but I saw TONS of space for a hook, so I went for that and took her back. Ended up in mount. Armbar.
I actually smiled at the end of this match, because it was a medal I felt I could be proud of!
Lessons: Work on closed guard strategy, work on attacks from turtle, work on getting from back to mount as she very nearly got up!
In general, it was an excellent day for me. I met my goals. I stayed relaxed, though the nerves manifested themselves differently this time. I had better composure in standing. I went for things, but I think I could have been a little more aggressive at times.
I can really get used to this competing thing -- there is SO much to be gained from it!