The follow match is an Olympic judoka Travis Stevens (currently ranked 5th in the world) competing in a recent Grapplers Quest (in December, 2011). In judo, Travis is probably my favorite actively competing judoka to watch, partly because he goes for big throws and big wins, but partly because his judo game is very similar to mine, so of course it’s easy for me to like his game.
I gained even more respect for him when I watched him compete in 5+ divisions at that Grapplers Quest in both gi and no gi. In almost all the matches I saw he either pulled or jumped guard, not using his judo almost at all. I think that’s a sign of a true champion, willing to put ego aside in order to learn, improve, and grow from the experience. That said, he beat almost everyone. His open and closed guards are very difficult to pass. Moreover, he is very dangerous off his back, constantly looking for triangles, arm bars, and omoplatas. Here’s one of the only (if not the only) match he lost that day, tapping to a straight foot lock:
I wanted to post this match because it reminds me what local and regional tournaments are all about at all levels. The idea is to have as many matches as possible, do your best, but don’t take a loss too seriously, and more importantly, don’t let the possibility of a loss prevent you from taking risks and opening up your game.
If you notice, Travis smiles during the relatively intense attacks by the top guy. I’ve seen him smiling like this at the highest level of competition. I’m not sure what the intent of it is, but in my eyes, it definitely has a positive effect of showing his opponent that he is not tired (even if he is).
If an Olympic judoka doesn’t mind stepping completely out of his comfort zone and losing, the rest of us have no excuse. Get out there and compete!