I Fought Judo and Judo Won

Today was the day of the Judo tournament.  I definitely learned some things about myself (and about Judo.)  In the end, I earned a bronze metal by going 1-2.

The first match started with my opponent trying to go for a hip throw, he missed and I was able to try and work a choke before we got stood up. I had a good idea that he was going to try that throw again. He did and I hit a tani otoshi. The ref said “ippon” but I didn’t hear it. I heard “work the pin” so I did. I finally heard matte. As I stood up to fix my gi I saw that I had an ippon on my scoreboard.

At this point, my first Judo tournament was better than my first BJJ tournament. There I went 0-4 (submitted twice and didn’t score a point.)

I had a bit of a break, and then had to go against the guy who won his first match. I could tell he liked tai otoshi and also drop seo nage, so I was trying to figure out how to counter. He tried to hit one, I stuffed it and tried to choke him. Matte was called and I was issued a shido because when I tried to lapel choke him it was across his chin and not across his neck.

We restarted, and were working for grips, matte was called and I received a shido for same side grips. I don’t doubt that I had sleeve and lapel on the same side, it’s so natural for me to grab that. Problem was, I didn’t attack within 3 seconds.

We restart again and he again tries for a drop seo nage. I defend, come the side, use my knee to push him down, pass his guard and try to work a pin. He bridges and escapes, and we fumbled for a bit before being stood up again.

We once again wound up on the ground, I again passed his guard got kesa gatame. I heard “osaekomi” meaning the counter for the pin was called. I then heard “toketa” meaning it was broken. I heard the word. I thought “I know what that means” but I reacted as if he said “Matte” for stop. I backed away, and stood up. The referee asked me if I understood “toketa” and I said I did. It wasn’t for about another 10 minutes before I realized I reacted as if he said “matte.”

Not much else happens and time runs out. I assumed I had lost because I had 2 shidos, and there was no ippon and no wazari. But that’s not the rules. If the score, apart from shidos, is tied you go to golden time. Where first person to score wins (or if I picked up another shido or he picked up 3.)

Once again he tried for a drop seo and again I largely defended. I tried to get a cross lapel choke, and then an armbar. I was unable to get one and as he rolled out of it, he grabbed my arm. It was a typical belly down armbar. The kind I’ve defended in the gym 100 times. I had nothing, though. I couldn’t escape and had to tap.

I was now 1-1.  I had to go against the guy from my 1st match (who won his second match, that eliminated the 4th judoka.)  I thought “Ok, he’s going to come out with hip throws again.”  As we were “on deck” I stood up and had a huge head rush. I started getting tunnel vision. I had to turn towards the wall for a second and hope that the match before us would go long, but it didn’t.

As I stepped to bow on to the mat, I was seeing floaters. My brain was telling me “If you lose, you still get a medal, and you don’t have to go again.” I tried to convince myself that he was just as tired and that I didn’t need to show him I was exhausted.

I made to the middle and bowed. I heard “hajime” (begin) and when I reached for his lapels suddenly I wasn’t light headed, didn’t see any floaters. But at the same time I had nothing to give.

He hit me with a good foot sweep attempt. I defended. He tried again. I defended again. I tried one against him and it probably felt like a fly brushing his leg.

He tried one more time, and I set my weight to defend it. He switched it up and hit an awesome o soto gari. The match, and the tournament, were over.

I have still never, at any tournament, won back-t0-back matches.

But I learned a few things.

First, I learned I’m way more comfortable as a “counter-puncher.” That’s how I won my match, was to let him attack, and me counter. But that doesn’t always work, and in the 3rd match it was part of why I lost, because I wasn’t attacking, he was able to set up a good throw.

Second, 3 minutes of Judo is way harder on me than a 5 or 6 minute BJJ match. The constant up and down off the mat wore on me.

Third, and related, if I compete, I need to be mentally tougher. By the time my 3rd match started, my mind had already checked out. I was trying to get it back, but I was exhausted physically and it impacted my performance.

Fourth, I enjoyed competing. At the same time, I’m not a huge fan of the rule set. Not solely from my matches. Other matches I watched highlighted rules that I’m not a fan of. I DO like the idea of a good throw ending the match. It’s largely the other things.  I don’t know if I’ll compete in Judo again or not. I’d say probably, but that could just be the post-tournament vibes talking. But I imagine I will compete in BJJ again, and it will be interesting to see the difference once I go back there.

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