The Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships 2012 was an exciting event for everyone involved but for me it was an emotional roller coaster that ended up leaving me disappointed and full of motivation.
This year's Pan marked my return to the 167.5 pound division and I've never felt better before a competition in my life. I dedicated myself to executing my diet and training plan correctly and on the day of the tournament I felt full of energy and only had to run a small amount in my sweatshirt and sauna suit to make weight. I was so excited to compete I had to control myself to keep from jumping off the walls.
My first match was against James Guyton of Alliance Atlanta, an opponent who I had heard of and knew was a tough competitor. Still, I feel like over the past few months I have really dialed in my preferred mindset for competition and before this match I felt more "in the zone" than I ever have before. Right from the beginning of the match I could tell that Guyton has a tough guard but I was confident that if I kept the pressure I could pass. I managed to stay ahead by an advantage for most of the match until at one point I was able to pull to the guard and come up with a sweep to come ahead by two points. I knew I had to keep constant pressure to avoid a comeback by my opponent and in the final seconds of the match I was able to pass the guard, mount and finish with an armbar (VIDEO BELOW).
My next match was a rematch with Tanner Rice, also of Alliance. I knew that, like Guyton, Tanner had a tough guard and the key to victory was going to be constant pressure. Again I began well, staying ahead by one advantage for most of the match. Then at one point in the middle of the match I made a mental mistake which I recommend all competitors pay attention to so that you can learn from it. My mistake was that I decided that winning by the advantage i already had was going to be enough, instead of continuing with the constant pressure to pass the guard that I had been applying up until that point. I feared that I would spend too much energy trying to pass and end up running out of gas in the end of the match, so i began to try to hold on and run out the time. This mistake was one that I have made before and should have known to avoid making again, but as it is this mistake ended up making the difference in the match. My conditioning is great so I shouldn't have been worried about running out of gas. When I stopped attacking and began trying to run out the time my opponent was no longer overwhelmed by my offense like he had been for the entire match up until this point. Instead it gave my opponent a chance to attack for the first time in the match and he ended up coming ahead by advantages. In the end I decided it was better to go all out to try to pass and risk the possibility of being submitted than to accept the defeat by advantages. When I openend up to go for broke and dove in for the pass, Tanner pulled my arm inside and I was forced to tap in an armbar.
At the moment I was disappointed, as any athlete should be if they came to an event with the intent to win and weren't successful in achieving their goal. I really felt like the gold was in my hands, I just had to grab it and when I messed up my mental strategy in the middle of the match I let the opportunity slip away. Right after the match I just had to be by myself for a while and let the whole rush of emotions pass. Though I felt disappointed, I've long past the point in my competitive career where a loss would drastically effect my mental state negatively. I've learned that your entire view of your competitive level is not put on the line every time you compete. I know I'm in the top tier of brown belt competitors and that if I make a mistake the other athletes won't let me off the hook, but I also know that if I do everything right that nothing can stop me. Now I'm even more motivated to train even harder fot the Worlds in June, and first the American Cup in San Jose at the end of the month where I'm likely to have a rematch with Tanner.
Don't miss it!!