BJJ Grrl

"Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." ~Sensei Keiko Fukuda

The Crucible

on February 28, 2009

AKA, NAGA Virginia.

Quick ‘n’ dirty:

  • lost first round of nogi by triangle
  • won first two gi matches (points [12-0] and armbar, respectively); lost in finals to a really strong girl; got 2nd

Videos and pictures coming once we get them off the camcorder (my mom has never embraced digital media, so it’s on a tape still) and the camera (my uncle, thankfully, is a media director, so he likes digital media and took lots of pictures).


We went to weigh-ins last night. I weighed in fully dressed, holding stuff, at 126 lbs, so the guy listed me at 125.

Everyone had told me lots of things about what to expect, but what they forgot to tell me was that all the guys — and some girls! — would be stripping down for weigh ins! Wasn’t even paying attention, walking in with my guys, and I look up to see lots of guys in boxers. And a few girls who stripped down, too. Then we hit Cracker Barrel for lots and lots of food.

Next morning, got there around 11 a.m. Way. Too. Early. Adults didn’t even start until 1:30/2 p.m. So I had way, way too much time to be nervous and have adrenaline running through me and to think. Did have my iPod with lots of reggae (Christafari), but that didn’t help much. Plus they were switching some of the divisions around on my mat, so I wasn’t sure when we were going. Got ready a couple of times, and they didn’t call us. Ugh.

Did roll with Scott on the warm-up mat when it seemed as if my division would start soon. He said I’ve never rolled like that before and said to keep it up. Awesome.

But then another long wait before the nogi absolute for him and even longer for the women’s nogi. And even once we finally turned in our cards, there was still a long wait because some of the women were asking if the divisions could be switched around somehow. One whole division was all women from the same school, and they apparently always have to roll against each other at tournaments and were hoping something could be done. So a long time of waiting on the edge for the divisions to start. I don’t even know what was finally decided.

First round, I was intent on taking her down and finishing her. I was ready to be aggressive and I knew she wasn’t my friend. But I did underestimate her — and, really, all girls. She was fast and strong. And, my clinch and takedowns stink. The crucible has returned its verdict. As we were grip fighting, I thought very strongly about pulling guard at one point but thought I could take her down. Wrong. I think I lost my balance or tripped over my own feet or something. — Update: watching the video, she pulled me around and I tripped; she jumped forward and landed on top. — Fell, she gave a little guidance to send me to my back, and she landed in a triangle. She had it fast and tight. Tried to get out (seriously thought about tapping early but kept fighting; even gurgled at one point because I couldn’t breathe). Started to posture up at one point and actually stood, but she came off the mat for my head and jerked me back down (the ref said something about not slamming, but I had nothing to do with it — she pulled me). Eventually realized she had me and good, so I tapped. The ref didn’t even see it, but we were both good sports about it; she let go and I stopped. Was light-headed and dizzy afterward; that thing was tight. She had long dancer legs, and they were strong.

Six-member bracket, so that was my only round there. Disappointed in myself; knew I could have done better if I’d been able to get her to the ground on my terms. But learned several things there.

  1. stay warm before division
  2. EAT. Your division will be later than you think.
  3. my clinch and takedowns need a lot of work
  4. don’t underestimate girls — they’re fast and strong and tough
  5. ELBOWS IN

Long wait until gi. Watched several of my guys. They did well, too. Jesse won 2nd and 3rd in his nogi and gi divisions. Scott was 3rd in his nogi division. Big John, the former wrestler who’s only done 3 months of BJJ, won 3rd in his weight class, nogi intermediate division (they bumped him up from Beginner); Buddy #1 won 2nd in the same. Nick was 2nd, also, in nogi. Saw glimpses of Buddy #2 rolling across the gym, but don’t know how he did.

Was watching Scott, John, and Buddy (same mat, different divisions, though they overlapped them to give guys time to rest), and suddenly saw two girls in gis and white belts standing on mat #1. Booked it to get down there.

Same mindset as before, with an edge of revenge for the nogi round.

I was in the third round. (Noticed that she was wearing the Atama women’s gi. Meant to find her afterward and ask her how she liked it, what size she had, and if it had shrunk, but lost her.) Learned from my first match that I wanted to be on the mat now. We locked up and I pulled guard as soon as I felt I had her off-balance. So fast, that my uncle got no pictures of it and my dad took a few seconds to realize I’d gone off the screen on the camcorder. I’ll have to watch it all again to remember what I was thinking and doing, but I hit a sweep from guard (2 pts) and then mount (4 pts) twice. Kept trying to hit the americano from there, but must have had something wrong. Several of my guys were competing at the same time, so no one was able to corner me. Instead, I listened to her coaches and tried to prevent what they wanted and do something else. Went all four minutes, and I won on points, 12-0.

The ref talked to me for a second afterward and said that I was a different person in the gi. I said that I hadn’t ever really rolled with girls and had underestimated the first one. He was a nice guy; kept telling us after each match that we’d done well and he liked what he was seeing.

Next round, same beginning: locked up and pulled guard. Again my uncle got no pictures of it. Adam and Scott were there for this one, and they walked me through the round. Had a sweep, I think, and some other things, and then a bump sweep (Scott yelled “Sit-up sweep!”, which took me a second to recognize, but then hit it) to mount. She was pushing straight up on my chest, so I was thinking of the armbar. Didn’t get it at first, and she pulled her arms in and was starting to bump me around, so Adam told me to grapevine her legs. She pushed on my chest again, and I hit that armbar like butter. (Even thought as I hit it, “Oh, that was nice.”) Tight and deep, and she tapped. That put me in the finals. Oo!

They started the next weight class so the other girl and I could rest. I was exhausted, mostly from being on an adrenaline rush for so many hours. And my grips were shot. Forearms were rough, too. Never quite caught my breath before the finals.

Last girl was taller and bigger than me. I think she really cut to hit under 135 lbs. I’d seen parts of her earlier matches, and she also looked strong. She grabbed my sleeves, and I thought, “Holy cow!” She was even stronger than she looked. It was like locking up with one of my guys. I’d seen another girl try to pull guard on her and get squashed, but she started trying to throw me, so I thought, “Why not?” Did commit to it, but it did no good. — Edit: watching the video, you can see her try to throw me. It looks like she does, though I had actually tried to pull guard there from the side, which in hindsight was a bad idea. So she got the points for the takedown. Whatevers. — I was tired. Could hear Scott telling me what to do, but couldn’t do it. Felt like I was rolling the same as last Saturday. She was doing anything she wanted. She got north/south, and Scott was telling me to go for the single leg, so I turtled to go for it but she got my back. Did trap one hook from getting in, and did eventually get to her guard. Tried the guard break from Thursday, but didn’t really have her arms controlled or my weight forward on her, and she locked on to my sleeves and slung up for the armbar. Had to tap.

I rode up with the guys, but I’m going back with my parents, so I had to leave earlier with them. Missed some of the guys’ gi matches. Still completely amped up. … Talked to Adam later, and he said John won 3rd in his gi division (and the match he lost, it was only by 1 pt).

I got a shiny, and I learned a whole lot about my jiu-jitsu, other girls’ jiu-jitsu, and tournaments in general, so I’m marking it down as a success all around.

Other lessons:

  • pack more to eat, and bring gatorade/etc. instead of just water
  • pack less overall stuff (didn’t use it)
  • roll with more intensity in class
  • work on deadlifts
  • … … drat, there was more, but I’m getting so tired that I forgot it all…

Ran in to a friend from TKD, Mike Z. (He’s the guy who used to smile when you finally hit him hard enough in sparring.) Almost didn’t recognize him in street clothes! He started training BJJ after he left, and he’s a brown belt now. (Holy cow! — Edit: not sure exactly what he’s training, though it looks like a cross between JJJ and BJJ with striking. Whatever it is, he’s good at it.) He was competing in gi, but I didn’t get to stay and watch him because my dad and uncle had to leave.


The guys all said I did good. And for once I completely believe them and know they’re right. Am happy. G’night. 🙂

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3 responses to “The Crucible

  1. Patrick says:

    Congrats on getting 2nd place with the gi at your very first tournament! I knew you’d do great! And amazing write up too!

    No worries about your no-gi match. I feel sorry for whoever is your next no-gi opponent tho. Ha! I chuckled when I read “don’t underestimate girls” cause the same thing happened to me after my first spar (yeah, she got me in a triangle too… and an armbar… several actually).

    • leslie says:

      Thanks, Patrick 🙂

      Oh, yeah — next nogi chica’d better watch out.

      The only girls I’ve sparred with haven’t been nearly at the level of these girls and weren’t nearly as strong, and I could do anything I wanted to with them. So I think I wasn’t prepared for that. Next time, though, hehe…

  2. […] though he swept me immediately. After, he said I’m rolling like I did during the warmups at the NAGA in February and that I’m very tight and patient. He said that was […]

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