On September 25th-26th of this year, the IBJJF Masters Worlds championship was held in Las Vegas. That means for the 'over-30-crowd,' this was the chance to put your money where your mouth is and compete against others in your same age, weight, and rank on a very large scale. In other competitions, are you generally places with that sort of class of opponents; but in more local competitions you're not going to be guaranteed to have a solid bracket with ample competitors. You may be asked to move up, or down, in weight or age--that's not the case in IBJJF. In this post I plan on recounting my experience in my first IBJJF and attempt to highlight some differences I came across from an IBJJF competition to a non-IBJJF.
|At Pittsburgh International About to Board the Flight to Vegas|
The 4-hour flight from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas was fine. I felt relaxed--for the most part--and took advantage of the time reading and listening to podcasts. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 8pm local time and checked into our hotel room right away, My training partner made the trip with his wife, and shortly after our arrival they went out to eat. I admit, I was nervous about making weight so I didn't want to risk it so close to the competition so I decided to stay in and try to rest, which I did and woke up the next morning feeling ready.
|Competitor Stamp. On the forearm. Felt legit.|
At roughly 9:30am Luca asked me what time I wanted to get warmed up to go on. He was scheduled for his first match a little after mine, but I figured my normal routine that I borrow from class would be sufficient. It's basically a normal warm-up of about 15 minutes to get loose; which is good for an hour class so why wouldn't it be good for a competition? So at 9:45 we made our way into the Bull Pen where I sat down to begin with a butterfly stretch and was almost immediately called to get in line to weigh in by the Mat Manager. Lesson Learned: Warm up a lot sooner than you think, weigh in as soon as possible. So I line up and was informed by the same Mat Manager that my opponent wasn't there so the match would be scratched, I'd win, but I just needed to make weight. After some waiting in line, I finally weigh in, make weight, then am escorted to my mat. At that point I'm assuming that since I made weight that I 'won' and that I'd get pulled out onto the mat for a lame hand-raising then move on to the next match--not the case. I arrive at my mat and was greeted by my original opponent, who was there, and then suddenly now I'm fighting. It was weird. I went from stretching, to not, to fighting, to not, to fighting again and still not warming up. Sigh. But again, lesson learned.
My match went okay. By "okay" I mean I lost, on points. Yes, it was a bummer; but in BJJ you know you either "win or learn." The match started off with me getting the takedown and my opponent getting a sweep. I fought out of it and through a series of sweeps, escapes, and three submission attempts, my match ended with me going for a Kimura that my opponent fought off till time expired. I was proud of myself for getting the takedown, never stopping fighting (giving up), and always going for the submission. But these things happen and the lesson was learned. So I was one-and-done and Luca followed suit shortly after, also losing on points. Normally, you'd think that would be the end of the competition, but this was an IBJJF event and there was so much more to do.
|The Look of Disappointment and Acai Bowls (because Acai Bowls make it better)|
|No One is Exempt From Acai Lines|
There were so many high-level guys there, both competing and just watching. I saw Gui Mendes and Robert Drysdale taking in the sights and matches that weekend (cool). I saw Royler in the Acai line (see above) and in the stands watching all the matches and being very friendly with fans.
|Myself, Pedro, and Luca|
He said to us "How did we do today?" in that unmistakable Brazilian accent. I answered (mildly ashamed) "Not so well." He just laughed and said "Well, sometime that happens, eh?" Which, I guess, is a normal answer, but his candor and sincere attitude toward two of his affiliate students conveyed that he did care about how we did; and his hand on our shoulders was fatherly enough to further express his appreciation for us even trying. Good dude, that Pedro.
Speaking of good dudes, I also got to meet Saulo Ribero. We first mentioned Saulo in one of our earlier posts, The White Belt's Guide to Good BJJ Books. His book, Jiu Jitsu University, is a staple in the community--and is required reading for you WBS fans. Saulo is a 5x Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, 2x ADCC champion, Pan Am Champion (both in weight AND Absolute), World NoGi champion--look, I can go on and on about his list of accomplishments, or you can look it up yourself, but let's all agree that Saulo is one of the best competitors that our sport has ever seen. Beyond that, he's one of the nicest people I've ever met. From the handshake to the picture to the right, Saulo treated me like a long-lost friend and he was genuinely happy to meet me and take a picture. I know that the majority of 'BJJ People' are like that, and I do agree, but there was a sincere appreciate from Saulo (and Pedro) that I think you can only get from guys at that level. What's even cooler? I got to see Saulo compete.
|Saulo Dominating Everyone|
I also got to meet, and hang out with, Kurt Osiander. Kurt was just as cool as you'd suspect. Kurt taught me a lot about prepping for competition. Remember earlier how I mentioned about what time I was supposed to go on versus what time I started warming up? Well Kurt--a Black Belt level competitor--started a full hour and a half before his scheduled start time. Everything from preworkout drinks to breaking a sweat, Kurt (unknowingly) taught me how an active Black Belt starts to get ready for competition.
I learned how to tape my fingers from his Move of the Week vlog and got to see it in action. Weird, but it was sort of a 'full circle moment' for me. But aside from hanging out with me and Luca, watching matches, and talking about general life stuff, I got to see how seriously I do not take warm-ups as compared to someone who does. Kurt (along with a lot of other guys that weekend) legit had hoodies on under their gi for warm-ups. I saw him stretch, jump rope, drill, and basically get his entire body and mind ready to compete. Credit to Luca for pointing out that "Obviously, we need to take warm-ups more seriously."
Lessons were learned. Fun times were had. IBJJF competitions are cool--regardless to yours, or anyone else's, feelings on their rule set. If you're thinking of competing, you should. It's fun. As outlined above, even just hanging out at competitions can be rewarding. It's nice to get out there in the BJJ community and get to meet cool people. We're blessed enough to belong to a community where we can meet, train with, and talk to our heroes, idols, etc. Try that with any other sport and I I bet it doesn't work. Take advantage of it.
A Very Special Thank You to my sponsors who make this blog and my exploits a reality:
VVV Fight Co.
The very best, coolest, and best quality of BJJ products. Great Gis, top notch street wear, and honestly a very cool company with great people.
Please visit and Follow them at:
VVV on Facebook
Made by grapplers for grapplers who are always looking to #StayAlpha
I love their stuff. There are a lot of supplement companies out there that can sell stuff, but the difference between Q5 and the rest is the fact that their company has the grappler in mind when they design their products. It's high-quality and effective! I wouldn't steer you guys wrong:)
find them at:
Q5 on Facebook