The tournament was on Sunday in a city called Bucheon which is about a three and a half hour drive from Daegu. We left from the club at 5:30 am to get there in time to weigh in and start competing at 10:00. Once our team was weighed in I put my gi on for the first time in three weeks and headed down to the mat where I was the second match of the day. My first match was against a guy I had beaten handily at an earlier tournament. I proceeded to get flying armbarred less than 10 seconds into the match. I'm not sure if I've ever been that embarrassed at a tournament before. Not only did I lose, I was out of the tournament and had to watch as a guy I've beat before worked his way through the bracket and won the division. It was frustrating, but I earned that loss. I simply was not ready for that match. Luckily I still had the gi absolute division coming up. What chance would I have against the monsters and winners from all of the other weight classes if I couldn't even last 10 seconds in my own weight class? Plenty it turns out. I think I just needed a good kick in the pants to get going and that first loss was just what the doctor ordered.
In my first absolute match I fought a guy who had competed in the heavyweight (100 kg) division. He smirked at me when the drawmaster put us together, kind of like he thought it was funny. He thought it was a lot less funny when I rolled up an 8-0 lead before submitting him with a north/south choke. If the first guy I fought was big, the next guy was an absolute terror. He was a member of the U.S. Airforce and was a superheavyweight who probably had the same body fat percentage that I did. To say he was intimidating was an understatement. I heard someone refer to him as "Black Hercules". Luckily he was considerably less intimidating when he put his gi on.
I don't think many people gave me much of a chance to beat him (he steamrolled a pretty tough dude in his previous match) but I had a decent game plan. I had watched a few of his matches through out the day. He had pretty much bullied his way through the tournament by using a bull rush double leg, leaning on people until they collapsed and doing nothing on top except not get submitted. I knew that as hard as he pushed on his opponents he would be in trouble if he ever came up against anyone who could throw well. It never occurred to me that it might be me. Sure enough, about a minute into the match I caught him pushing too hard and launched him with a hip toss going out of bounds. He got up, dusted himself off and said "good job". Then he came at me even harder. He blasted me out of bounds and into some spectators 3 or 4 times, but I kept my feet moving and didn't let him in on my legs. At one point he shot a double and had me scrambling. In desperation I turned and threw my hips into a whizzer as hard as I could and threw him onto his back again. This time he did not tell me "good job". He was getting pretty cheezed at losing to a 68 kg. geek. I tried my luck one more time and tried to hit him with a shoulder throw. I was very close to scoring the takedown but we went out of bounds. I thought. You can't see it on the tape, but I landed with both knees and feet completely on the wood floor. Little did I know that one of his feet was still on the edge of the mat, making us still in bounds. I stopped fighting and he took the opportunity to take back mount. We eventually went out of bounds and got re started in the center with him in back mount. I knew if I could sneak my way out of danger and hold him off for under a minute I'd win on points. I managed to do just that.
After that match I had exactly 5 minutes to get ready for the final. In the final I fought one of my teammates who competed at and won the 90kg. division. The match was a little slow but I ended up submitting him with an Americana.
What I Really Came For
After the gi portion was done I suited up for the no gi open division which was what I was really excited for. getting to test myself against the best grapplers in the country in the style that I like best appealed to me. In my first match I submitted a blue belt with a D'arce choke and in my second match I beat a purple belt on points, 10-2. In the final I met a very strong blue belt that sometimes comes to our club to train. I was leading for a good chunk of the match but eventually got my back taken in a scramble and submitted to a choke after fighting it off for what felt like an hour.
A gold in the Gi absolute and a silver in open no-gi was a good way to finish off the day after a tanking out of my first division.
Mfight (a Korean MMA website) was at the event taking video and pictures. They also handed out a "Fighter of the Day" award. They apparently thought that my win in the absolute division was worthy of the award. I was honored to get the award but I know there were lots of better performances and better fighters at the event. For example, my buddy Bo Kue won the Abu Dhabi Trials and the absolute no-gi tournament. In the semi final he got caught in a deep triangle choke that looked like game over. He somehow fought it off for over 2 minutes (he told me later that he was very close to going to sleep) before storming back and wining on points. In the final he dug himself an 11-0 deficit (which I'm sure had something to do with being gassed from his last match) before submitting his opponent with a kimura. To me that kind of fighting spirit is what should earn "Fighter of the Day". But the trophy sure is nice and shiny.
Champions One and All
Daegu MMA won the team title, even without Heung Kul and Un Sik, our two best jiu jitsu players competing. As far as grappling goes, we've won everything in sight this year. Looking at all of the studs in the team picture below makes me realize what a stacked team Daegu MMA actually is. Lots of guys train at different times and you rarely see all of the best guys together in one place, but when you do it's a hell of a team to deal with.
Our team with some hardware
It's Not Mother's Day But...
It's my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday Mom!