Tag Archives: points

Don’t Watch the Clock

When I competed at the NY Open this weekend, I was twice caught in a realization that I was winning and that there was very little time left in the match. I didn’t start stalling but I was distinctly aware of the thought that I don’t need to score any more points. “Don’t take risks” I thought. What that amounted to was “don’t do anything”.

Depending on your personality, the pressure to win can be counter-productive in the long term, and for me, it very much is. Let me explain…

Looking back at the matches I lost over the last two years, I lost because I didn’t want to “take risks” or (more clearly) I didn’t believe in my technique. That mindset leads to a lot of wins by 2 points, by 3 points, by 5 points. At the brown and black belt level, that’s a solid performance. At the blue belt level, to me, that’s an embarrassment. The good guys in my division submit everyone (including other good guys), except for the 1 or 2 people with whom they have a close war. That’s who I want to strive to be.

When I’m up by 2 points, I want to strive for 2, 3, 4 more points. I want to work for the submission, even if that means I lose the match. Because if I am content to win by 2, I will never develop into the kind of competitor I want to be on the mat.

What’s needed: A supreme confidence that my cardio and guts is tougher than my opponent’s.

How to achieve it: Push myself past the limit of exhaustion often though training, through running, through anything. In other words, refuse to quit. It’s easy to say, hard to do. But I can say that I’ve begun seriously working on it, and will be ready for Worlds.

Submission Only Finals

Saw this poll on FightWorks Podcast and thought that this is a great idea for tournaments: make the finals match submission only.

The poll suggests this for black beltĀ divisionsĀ at IBJJF events. However, I think it would be a great idea for finals of any division except maybe the most novice ones (kids, white belt, etc).

An alternative is to make it an opt-in option. So, if both competitors agree, then it’s submission only, otherwise if either disagrees, then just do a regular points match. Although obviously this alternative has some unfairness issues.

I won far too many matches by 2 points or even on advantages. When the time runs out and I’m only up by 2 points, I feel like I was saved by the bell, like I never was put to the test. I do see jiu jitsu as a chess match, and respect the game for its technical merit, but in the end it (especially a finals match) is a battle. To win a battle you have to make the opponent give up, no excuses, no referee close calls, etc.

All that said, I don’t think I would want every match to be submission only, lol. Or would I? I’m doing the US Grappling submission-only tournament in September. If it’s anything like what people say it is, it’ll be a great experience. Here’s a highlight from one of their submission-only events:


Te Guruma Counter with Harai Goshi

Below is a clip from the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam showing a beautiful counter of te guruma with harai goshi from the over-the-back grip. There are a few interesting things about this throw. First, blue’s te guruma (which obviously involves a leg grab) is legal because of white’s cross grip over the back. That’s one of the exceptions to the leg grab rule. On a side note, I don’t like the fact that at smaller local tournaments the refs don’t watch for that as closely. I love to do pickups against that grip, and have already been disqualified twice for it. I’m not going to stop doing it (unless I’m up on points), because it is still legal, and I would like to take full advantage of the rules.

The second interesting thing is the observation that the commentator makes about blue not stepping in front and under white with the te guruma attack. It’s tough to do obviously when white’s hips are turning all the way around for the harai, but still if you go for it and start standing up, you better have the opponent loaded up. It’s exciting to see judoka taking full advantage of the rule, and seeing that the refs understand the situation (given how quickly it all happens) to allow the te guruma.

Lastly, it’s great to see a harai from that over-the-back belt grip. It’s one of my favorite attacks and it’s always nice to see it done in international competition, proving that it CAN work well, especially with an incoming te-guruma attack.