The IBJJF European Open started yesterday with the blue belts. The results are slowly trickling in. There were 87 guys in the blue belt middleweight division. I was positive that at least one of the guys I knew would medal. They did not. And then I started doing some research, and realized that this division had some very good competitors. About 10 of the 87 could win gold on any given day.
I know that the blue belt is commonly thought of as a beginner rank, but the guys that win these divisions do not have many holes in their game. They are by no stretch of the imagination “beginners”. Many have spent 3 to 4 years training daily (if not twice daily). What’s clear to me is that several of these guys will beat me 9 out of 10 times if I am passive and let them play their game. For example, the first place winner looks to be a triangle guy. I know if I stick around in his closed guard long enough I will get triangled. The answer for me is to be the aggressor, to not allow the closed guard, or if it happens to very aggressively work to split it.
Marcelo Garcia put it well in his new book on advanced jiu jitsu that you must always be threatening some kind of attack. At every moment of the roll, you are winning if you keep your opponent on the defensive. That requires a certain mindset that to me doesn’t come naturally. I have to develop it in training.
Here’s a video of the first place winner (Julio dos Anjos):
Here’s a video of the second place winner (David Hulland):
I have to be honest and say that I am genuinely intimidated by the level of competition at this tournament. It’s a wake up call that I have to do the things I know I need to do to win. That’s a confusing sentence. But basically, many of us know what needs to be done to accomplish a certain goal. You can write it down on paper. You can visualize doing it. Actually doing it is a whole another challenge, especially with many forces from the real-world putting stumbling blocks in your path.
I won’t make promises that I will win. But I can promise that I will give it everything I got.