My Experience at the 2012 Jiu Jitsu World Championship

The 2012 Worlds have left me floored. I won my first two matches (see videos below), feeling strong and confident for the next match. However, the ring organizer made an  exceptional mistake and skipped over me in the bracket, continuing on to the next round. This was only noticed after the next round’s fights were finished. I was skipped over. And just like that, my hunt for gold was over, without ever losing a match.

Everyone at IBJJF was apologetic, giving me a refund and two free tournaments. Of course, that still doesn’t cover the expenses, but much much more importantly, it doesn’t come close to making up for the fact that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (given how much I had to sacrifice to train for it).

This was my first time competing at Worlds, with over a year of hard training, drilling, competing, studying video, running, etc. where winning gold at this one tournament was my main goal. I have to admit and I truly mean it that my heart was broken in a way that I couldn’t quite put into words. It may sound like cliche exaggeration, but it’s true.

That said, the silver lining is I got to compete at Worlds. And that alone is an experience I will never forget, and I’m forever grateful for. And you better believe I will compete at both Pans and Worlds next year, as well as many other tournaments along the way, both big and small.

I decided early on to be respectful, and put this negative experience behind me, and look forward. I’ll even compete again this weekend at a small local tournament just to help put it all behind me.

I also learned a lot from just watching other blue belts as well as the higher ranks. For example, see the picture of Xande being swept successfully with the standard x-guard entry and sweep. It feels good to know that techniques I like can work against some of the best people out there.

Here are the basic lessons and resolutions I came away with:

  1. I have to have a very simple and well-defined game plan. In defining that game plan I have to be brutally honest with myself and only focus on things that click with me and not things I would LIKE to click with me. It’s the difference between dreams and reality. I can’t live in the dream world and still hope to succeed in jiu jitsu or any other aspect of my life for that matter.
  2. I have to drill the game plan with no resistance, in positional sparring, and in free sparring. Drill, drill, drill! My goal is, given all the other responsibilities in my life, to be a good competitor and enjoy both judo and jiu jitsu. Drilling is essential to that, because in my opinion, drilling maximizes the benefit out of the relatively little time I do have to train. Perfect practice makes perfect.

So here they are: my first two matches. As absurd as it is, I still desperately want the chance to do the other 5 matches, long after that opportunity is gone. I’m like the obsessed man in that Cake lyric:

As they speed thru the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up, and get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can

0 thoughts on “My Experience at the 2012 Jiu Jitsu World Championship

  1. Lincoln

    I am speechless reading about the organizational error that cost your tournament. Unless the organization can be truly professional and meticulous, consistently, this type of problem will prevent jiujitsu becoming a sport at the world level like Olympic sports. You seem to have handled it with grace. Though you still have three belts’ opportunities as you go through the rank. Maybe you’ll never get another chance to fight at blue belt at this level, it doesn’t matter. You know you trained well and tried. I guess even in jiujitsu events can happen beyond your control, even without referee involvement. You can fight at purple belt next time.

    1. Lex Post author

      That’s the truly disappointing part, Lincoln, that winning Worlds at blue is exceptionally difficult but possible for someone like me. Winning Worlds at purple is a whole another thing. But this kind of served as a reminder that the reason we do this stuff is not for gold medals, but for the bigger experience of it.

  2. Rob

    On a positive, very few people can say they have fought at the Worlds and won all their fights. You Can !

  3. Lance Wicks

    terrible mistake, I feel for you man!

    We had similar problems at the 2012 Commonwealth Judo Championships Veterans division. Luckily I don’t think anyone was skipped over completely like you were; a friend of mine literally caught it just in time before the next round went ahead, else he would have ended up like you.

    As we say in New Zealand “Kia Kaha, Kia Toa, Kia Manawanui”; Be Strong, Be Brave, Be perservering. Emphasis on the last one. 😉


    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks Lance, that means a lot. I try not to blame myself for not catching it in time. The format of the tournament didn’t make that easy. So I’ll just focus on the perseverance part 😉

  4. Dominique

    I feel for you man I really do.

    I would say, you can learn from it but their was no mistake on your part so that statement is not really warranted, all I can say is that you saw little details of how the pro’s do things which you may not have done from not been there live.

    Keep your head up, and know that you won at the worlds. Something not many BJJ players can say they have done.

    If your like me you will dwell on the what ifs, over and over again. Try to fight it but know that its only natural.

    Well done man

  5. Meerkatsu

    Woah!!! wtf! Seriously dude, they skipped you over? That’s not an error or a mistake, that’s incompetence!!!! But good on you to move on from the bad experience. Good luck with your future comps.

    1. Lex Post author

      It’s funny how many people were like: “Yeah yeah, sorry you got screwed. Now tell me where you got this awesome shirt.” Lol. I got it on one of those discount sites, I think that has one item on sale per day. Sometimes they have really cool shirts. I have to resist as much as I can 😉

  6. Christopher Phalanx

    Oh man, sorry bro. That was really hard to read. The mental preparedness alone is daunting, not to mention the dieting and training. As BJJ sores in popularity the people who run tournaments really need to become more professional and take this seriously.
    Congratulations on your victories though. As they said, “you won at the Worlds”.

    1. Lex Post author

      Absolutely, the feeling of winning (no matter against who) on that big a stage was awesome. I’m just a lowly blue belt, but it did give me a small taste of “glory”. Lol. Enough to go back to the blue belt cave and keep learning and having fun with the sport.

  7. Bjj Obsessed (Martin)

    I am infinitely impressed by your ability to accept “shit happening”. Personally I imagine I would follow the “Teddies out of the Pram” philosophy adopted by Caio Terra, belly aching to everyone I meet about how I was screwed over. Well done for the moral high ground dude. And you can take away two dominating performances and the fact that you went to the Worlds and were NOT beaten. Can’t argue with that. Good luck for the next Tourney you’re in dude. Get right back on that horse. I bet you’ll be that guy whose always looking over the shoulders of the officials at the table where the brackets are drawn up from now on though ;o)

    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks man. I have had to answer the question: “So how did it go at Worlds?” way too many times for my sanity 😉 At this point I just mumble something about it being a great experience lol.

  8. docere24

    Congrats Lex! Just discovered your blog. And its inspire me to compete more. Are you doing Philly Jui Jitsu Challenge? If you are it will be an honor to compete against you and hopefully stand on the podium with you.

  9. Tom

    It’s very admirable the way you have dealt with this colossal fuck up. It has lead to a tonne of people discovering your wonderful blog though, so it’s not all bad. Keep up the great work.

    Looking forward to your next rant on drilling 🙂

    1. Lex Post author

      Lol, I just read this comment after posting a blog entry on drilling. I’m really getting very predictable aren’t I? 😉 Can never drill too much!


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