High Wycombe Judo club was the venue for the First Judo Newaza Championships that myself and two other guys (Stuart and Oli) from my club entered. We got there around 11.30am to see the seniors fighting which gave us a flavor of what was to come. I then started eyeing up all my potential opponents and at this point I thought I was gonna get crushed as there were some seriously large dude’s there. One in particular caught my eye as he was like a shorter version of Brock Lesnar but with Tattoos and a northern accent. I hoped to god he wasn’t in my category.
The three of us weighed in and I weighed 93.5kg and so competed in the heavyweight division in the Green belt and under category. Normally they also have a 100kg+ category but unfortunately not at this tournament.
We got our seats in the stands near the front and waited for them to announce who was fighting who etc and I was called first. I was in such a daze and a rush to get over to the mats that I forgot to ask Oli and Stuart to film me on the camera I had brought with me.
The people from St John’s Ambulance were on standby and seeing them didn’t help to settle my nerves especially as I had already seen one guy get his elbow popped from an arm bar.
All the guys from my category were standing around our mat and then I saw him, the Brock Lesnar lookalike that I had hoped wasn’t in my category, was. Bugger.
After watching a couple of fights my name was called. In Judo competitions you are either a white belt or a blue belt so that the judges and the referee don’t confuse two same belted competitors. I was told I was white so I kept my own belt on. The other guy looked mean but nervous whereas I had on my usual poker face and yawned as I took to the mat as if I had done this a million times before. Of course inside I was yearning to be at the family picnic which my wife had attended for her Uncle Eric on Epsom Downs and which I had passed on for the chance to wrestle lots of big men in their pajamas.
We took our kneeling position and bowed and then the Ref called Hajime. I got a good grip and pulled him in to my guard, I figured as he was a big guy there was no point wasting my energy trying to get him on his back, especially not when I prefer fighting from my back. From this position I tried a triangle (Sankaku-jime) on him which I held for 30 seconds but never quite worked and then I tried a couple of times for an arm bar, again unsuccessfully. The ref then stopped it and made us start again from our knees. I was already feeling tired but when I look at the clock and realised I still had 2 minutes and 15 seconds left of a 3 minute fight I wondered how I would have the energy to finish this. As we restarted I attacked him and pushed him to his back where he eventually crawled out of the matted area so again we were re-started. Again I pulled guard and tried a number of subs whereas all he was trying to do was choke me with my Gi inside my guard. The ref stopped us again and re-started and I noticed there was only 25 seconds left so I pushed hard and got his back. I got my hooks in and went for the choke but the buzzer went signally the end of the fight. I got the judge’s decision and we shook hands and I then collapsed in a heap waiting for my next fight.
Although I felt gassed I was pumped after my first win. I walked slowly back to Oli and Stuart and just said “water”. Stuart offered to film my next fight but the way that I felt right then I didn’t think I could win again so I told him not to bother which in hindsight I am a bit gutted about as I would have loved to have posted it on here.
After taking on some water I walked back to the mats to await my next fight and I was asked by someone called Ben, fighting in the weight category below mine, whether I did BJJ. I told him no, but I do watch a lot of UFC and MMA. He laughed and said “so did he” but he was also a four stripe white belt in BJJ at Gracie Barra Nottingham. He was impressed with my guard play and assumed I was a fellow BJJ’er which I took as a compliment. Ben had won his first two fights and looked as tired as me. He said he always gets a massive adrenaline dump in competitions which totally drain his energy and I think this is what happened to me as I would consider myself pretty fit.
Eventually after what seemed like ages but in reality was probably only 15 minutes I was called to the mat to have my second fight, but who was I fighting? Bugger, it was Brock Lesnar. Still I had nothing to lose as I had already won one fight which is more than I expected to so I didn’t feel any pressure to win this, especially as he was a Green Belt who outweighed me and had a physique that looked like Michael Angelo had carved out of stone. We started and not surprisingly he was the aggressor so I immediately pulled guard. He then proceeded to try and choke me with the Gi which I easily stopped and as he tried to pass my guard I trapped an arm and threw up a Triangle choke (Sankaku-jime). At this point I was thinking that I might actually beat this guy and even though I got a good lock on he managed to wiggle out of it. The ref then forced us to re-start and again I went in to guard on my back and threw up another triangle ( Sankaku-jime )but this time he got out and passed my guard and then got me in a pin (Kesa-gatame) which I was not able to get out of. He held me there for 25 seconds and got his victory. I was a bit annoyed but also pleased that I had made him work for his win. Brock went on to the final where he was beaten by an equally big dude. I was supposed to then fight someone for 3rd and 4th place but as he was injured they decided to give us both 3rd place and I certainly wasn’t going to complain about that.
After my fights had finished I sat back in the stands and watched the other Stuart and Oli fight in their respective Brown Belt categories and they both also finished 3rd so all in all a good day out for Dorking Judo Club.
I managed to catch up with Ben again as we watched the last few fights and we discussed the UFC and the merits and history of BJJ and Judo. It’s a shame Ben lived so far away as he is the type of person I would like to train with. Of course being blokes we didn’t exchange numbers but if anyone reading this knows of a Ben who trains at Gracie Barra in Nottingham then let me know.
Thats me on the left with Big Stuart in the middle and Oli on the right.
Receiving my trophy.
I must also add that my old training buddy Richie “the neck” is starting his Judo training tonight somewhere in Liverpool or wherever he now lives, so hopefully we can meet up again soon and get some training going.