My Experience at the IBJJF Chicago Open

I traveled to Chicago this weekend to visit friends and to compete in the Chicago Open. It’s put together twice a year by the IBJJF in Chicago. I don’t like to compete that far away from home, but I’m using the tournament as a way to ensure I see my friends at least twice a year. Speaking of whom, to the left is a picture of Matt, Allen, and me half way through the long day.

I was able to get silver in my weight and bronze in absolute (see results page). It’s not the result I came there for, but the experience was great. I got a lot of matches and learned a lot. That’s why this blog post will probably be way too long, and filled with random thoughts. I’ll try to write about the small and big lessons I learned, at least the ones that are easy to put into words.

The best part was being reminded how much I love the people in the  jiu jitsu community. The kind of folks that compete at these tournaments are a rare breed. They come from all sorts of different backgrounds, but all have grounded character, a weird sense of humor, and an exceptional drive to succeed in all aspects of life.

Overall, I enjoyed the matches I won (a bunch, all by submission), but my mind has been going over and over the two matches I lost. Both of them I lost 2-0. Both were against good aggressive guard pullers that play the de la riva, berimbolo, fifty fifty games.

So first, here is the video blog I put together about the experience, and after that, is a bunch of random lessons learned:

I apologize for the monotone and at time ridiculous commentary. I try to let the coffee do the talking but that usually only lasts about 20 seconds. Alright so here are some “lessons”…

Gi Size: Avoid Surprises

Against my better instincts, and general common sense, I competing in a new gi that I’ve only trained in a couple of times. It was a Gameness Air gi, which I bought because of how light it is (like 0.5 lbs makes a difference…). It’s a great gi, generally speaking, but in my experience, what makes a “great” gi is mostly how well it fits on my specific body. I have 5 Fuji A3 gi’s and all fit differently. Anyway this gi was too big on me, especially in terms of the length of the sleeves. I got swept in my first match with the sleeve pulled all the way over my hand which was a new and disorienting feeling. There are technical details here that I’ll have to work on that have to do with left-sided base and scrambling in an entangled gi, but the main lesson to keep in mind is: compete in a gi that has already seen many battles in training (and preferably competition).

Renting a Car is a Good Idea

I always try to minimize the amount of money I spend on a tournament. In the spirit of that, I do things like bring my own food, don’t stay overnight at a hotel, carpool as much as possible, and if needed take public transportation. I usually embrace the chaotic labyrinth of transfers that is the subway and bus systems of the world. But this somehow becomes exponentially more difficult in many cases when used to get to and from a tournament. There are already a million things on my mind the hours before a tournament. The need to keep track of bus numbers and train stops adds too much to think about. Maybe I’m just over-stressing it, and once I get more used to competing at certain venues, public transit will be okay, but at least this time, renting a car helped me out.

This is especially true given that my division was on at 9am, and so I had to leave Matt’s house at around 7:30am. If I was taking a train I would probably need to be standing at a bus stop somewhere at 7am on Saturday morning, wondering why the hell I do such crazy things.

Cutting Weight is a Great Warm Up

When I arrived at the venue (at 8am) and checked my weight, I was 2 lbs over. I was ready for this and partially was hoping I was a little over, because I was also 2 lbs over at Worlds, and the experience was positive then. This may seem ridiculous, but being over by 1 to 2 lbs forces me to have a hell of a good warm up, the result of which I drop the 2 lbs. I calmly changed and waiting until 8:30am. I jogged for 10 minutes and then did about 100 burpees. From experience, I knew that the sweat I built up was more than 2 lbs by a little. I also knew that the test scale was a little heavy. When they called my name 5 minutes later, I was warmed up, awake, alert, ready to go, and 3 lbs lighter than 30 minutes before.

The lesson here is not to come in overweight, but rather that a good hard warm up is important, and very often skipped in competition. People for some reason are worried about tiring themselves out. That’s just an excuse we feed ourselves, and I know I do this a lot. So my goal for the next tournament is come in under weight, but still to go through a good 2-3 lbs warm up.

To be continued…

I jotted down a few more “lessons” in a notebook. This post is already ridiculously long, so I’ll save it for another post.

Overall the experience was great. I saw a lot of of the same faces, old friends, new friends, random facebook friends, and shady hipsters at the many Starbucks I visited to get some programming done.

By the way, I’m trying to maintain a good diet to get rid of some of that summer fat. This was my breakfast the day after the tournament. Roast beef and carrots!

0 thoughts on “My Experience at the IBJJF Chicago Open

  1. ze grappler

    how did you feel energy wise with the roast beef and carrots? i’ve been big on spinach and hard boiled eggs lately or some sweet potatoes, as i simply do not like a lot of flavor or very filling foods for breakfast.


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