Last week, Memphis BJJ sent four competitors to New York City to compete in the 2010 No-gi PAN Championships. It was an exciting experience to not only compete in a big tournament but also visit New York City for the first time.
I arrived in the Big Apple on Thursday afternoon. The day was cloudy and windy, showing signs of the preceding tropical storm showers that would be upon us that night. I arrived at Bryant Park/ 42nd street at 2:45pm to meet up with my coach Alex and teammate Elia. We got a quick bite to eat at a local stop, then I checked into the hotel.
My school, Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu, is part of the Marcelo Garcia Jiu Jitsu Association. One of the many perks of the trip was the opportunity to train with Marcelo at his gym in Manhattan. I participated in the 6:00pm beginners and 7:00pm advanced classes, both of which were taught by Marcelo. He reviewed the finer points of escaping side mount in both classes. Marcelo is just as good a teacher is he is a competitor. In both classes he examined all groups during the drilling phases to make sure everyone's technique clean down to the smallest instances. Many people can go alone on physical gifts, but refinement and detail are what seperate the great ones from the good ones. I met many of Marcelo's home students as well as competitors from Florida, Canada, South Africa, Guam, and many other places. After class I went back to the hotel for the night to rest up.
Friday started out cloudy and windy. The rain hit hard at precisely 8:00 am, proving that everything is on time in New York City. My coach Joel arrived later on Thursday, so Friday morning we took the time to walk around and see some sites before catching the noon time gi class at Marcelo's. In this class we went over passing butterfly guard. Once again, Marcelo explained not just a vague technique but explained the smallest details and their importance. After class, the team got together for delicious sushi about three blocks away from the academy. We would attend the 7:00pm class that night but I only watched because I was saving energy for competition the next day.
On Saturday the competition was held at the City College of New York. The campus and surrounding area looked amazing on a wonderful Saturday morning. There was a long line as only two security guards were checking bags at the entrance. I was due in the bullpen at 9:00am, so I was late. As soon as I walked in the competition area I changed into my competition attire. As soon as I changed, my name was called for my match. Lucky timing, I weighed in and was off to the mat. My first match was against a fellow Marcelo student, which is a bummer to say the least. I was able to win my first match by head and arm choke. A few minutes later I fought my second match, which I was able win to rear naked choke. My third match was tough as I was armbarred by my opponent. Losing is always tough, but in order to grow one must learn from their experience. The rest of the Memphis crew all competed very well as Joel took 2nd in his weight class, Alex won his weight class, and Elia fought hard in a super tough purple featherweight divsion. The Marcelo crew as a whole brought home many medals, bringing home the Men's Masters and Seniors divisions as well as the female Adult placements. Great job to everyone who competed!
After the competition, Team Marcelo went to Carmines Restaurant on 91st street (They also have a Times Square spot). Carmines is the best Italian Restaurant I have ever been to and seriously recommend it to everyone who is ever in New York City. Later that night, we explored Times Square. Times Square is every bit exciting in person as it is seen in movies and television shows. New York City literally never sleeps with many stores and restaurants not only open until early morning hours, but packed with customers during those hours. On Sunday I returned to Memphis. The trip was a good one, I enjoyed NYC and will return.