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Sunday, January 27, 2008

European BJJ Championship Travels, Trials, Tribulations, And Triumphs

There's a Slide Show BELOW The Post

Here's Some of what happened...Very Long But I hope you read through!!! PLEASE do...

Left The US on Friday...After much bullshit and problems...Moneywise and timewise...Work tied to throw a few monkey wrenches into my leaving as well as arranging things for my mother...Sponsors pulled out, people were full of bullshit, and my account in the bank was lookin like a straw hut after a hurricane rolls through...blank...
Literally up until the last couple hours before my flight I was two seconds from not going...
Got to the airport and had more money issues and had to call in to explain some crap for work that seemed as if it was gonna make me late...Last minute...People who count...Came through...So I'm off..

So I'm on the concourse at the airport and I get here's something good..I am in Business Class!!! (really just a stripped down first class but still TOP notch...I had Beef Tenderloin, some kind of rice, two different kinds of burgundy wine, many different kinds of bread, chocolate ice cream with cheese cake bits and some kind of fruit sauce...and ENOUGH ROOM to stretch out completely to sleep...!!!)...gave me hope the trip was going to come out nicely...uh uh
The Flight over to London was smooth and to Gatwick Airport saturday morning..kicked it for a few...made a couple calls using my card to let folks know i was ok (not realizing the connection charges were 19.99/per instead of 1.99/per!..this further dented the account)...Anyways..i get an exit row seat on the TAP Portugal flight to Lisbon (Note: DO NOT FLY THESE MUHFUCKAS UNLESS U GOT TO, TO LIVE!!!)...Flight was smooth...BUT...they neglected to put ONLY my bag ONE bag on the plane...
No biggie right? more flights but one that day...and if it didn't get there...then I was not going to be able to compete as my GI was in my bag!!! guessed it..they didn't even KNOW where my bag was before the tournament...I talked to a few friends here on the good ole FREE internet (Hotel Dom Carlos Park in Lisbon...GREAT place to stay!) and was convinced to at least go to the tournament...Never know what might happen...
I was resigned to missing the Absolute division to wait to get my bag the next day...but..the hell with it..At least I'd get to see some good matches...
So I go there...and on the way between the talks with friends and my own mind, I think to try to borrow or buy a Gi and do what I came to do...(Money was seriously Richard Pryorish...i.e. funny as hell) So I got to the tournament and language barriers prevented me from being able to explain to borrow a Gi so I go to the ONLY(KEIKO RACA...THANK ANd GOD BLESS YOU TO THE OWNER) vendor there (sucks as there are many at Worlds/PanAms/USOpen etc)...I ask if I can rent or borrow a Gi from him, and he gives me one for what I was holding in my hand at the time (which was not even half of what he charges for them)...

I'm SORRY TYLER (Tyler is owner of The GREAT Gi company that sponsors me...GOMGI... Http://
Make sure you go check them out and get some gear from em...!...It wasn't my fault buddy...again..FUCK TAP Airlines!)

Problem was, he had no purple belts...:( so here I go again asking to borrow one..and dudes were flat out telling me NO!...So I go back to the owner and he asked had I found one, I said no so he says he;d ask someone for me...He goes and gets MaryAnne Mullahy...She won the Mundials last year and had just gotten promoted (is also an ADCC competitor!) to purple and had won her divisions already...She agreed to let me borrow the belt!!!

So here we go...I make it to the bullpen for the Absolute...I got my mind right but the jetlag, lack of sleep, and realization i hadn't drank any water nor eaten since London, as well as the weight of all the problems up till that point (there were more, much more but no need for em here), kinda had me thinking that I'd just be ok competing getting beat and getting prepared for my weight division...But remembering how far I;d come and how things came together to place me in position to compete, I got my mind right, and made my mind up, anyone who faced me, was tapping...Wasn't playing around or being "too nice" as Marcus tells me I am:

My first fight:
I grab his lapels as he kind of backs away thinking about a shot...But I was really aggressive with him as he was a medio or meio-pesado so I felt I would just bully him to the ground...but dude was strong as a damn OX! I grab him and aggressively pull guard...Now we were in my territory...I work into a straight arm bar attempt (which was a feint) and slapped him hard with the triangle...grabbed the leg, rolled him onto his side and squeezed...Tap...Win.

Fight 2:
We danced a bit, as this guy was a good Judo guy it seemed so I worked to keep his hands off me...I finally gt the over the shoulder to the back grip and grab his other wrist...bent down low and ankle picked him...2pts/takedown...but as soon as I got to his side, he slipped a leg in so i'm in half guard...I sat up in seemingly poor position as his coaches were yelling at him to sweep, but it was a setup learned in he sat up thinking he could roll me...I grabbed his head, and threw the tirangle at him from half-guard...he tried preventing the other leg from getting locked but to no avail...grabbed the leg..rolled and squeezed for the tap!!! Tap...Win.

Fight 3:
This guy was Frickin huge...I think he was 260 but not I wasn't playing to make a mistake and get side-mounted...I grabbed his lapel, and acted as if I was bending to hip throw and picked a single leg...took a knee to the back and "down goes frazier"...2pts/takedown...I got to sidemount and control his hip with a pants side mount attacks and control have been a source of concern so i figured i needed to go for something i wrap my arma around his head as if i was going to north/south, but re-grabbed his pants to keep him from turning...and I throw my knee up into his throat for the choke..but him being so big he tucks his chin as i am pressing and "crack" the jaw goes boom...he screams (verbal submission) from the broken jaw (No Marcus, I didn't feel sorry for it ...until later after the competition!)...Win.

Fight 4: had some negative thoughts on this one b/c I'd seenthe guy at PanAms etc do really well and i was tired and dehyrated
This was Against Laurent Bulin (French National BJJ Champ and Judo Black Belt)...Starts out with him getting a hold on my lapel I couldn't break...Since I couldn't I figured just try to keep my feet and figure out how to pull guard...Not an easy task as he;d throw all his opponents until me..easily and HARD...But only once did his attempts almost get me down but we were out of bounds and re-started then...We keep at the attempts at lapel grabbing and control and he jabs me right in the lip as i am changing levels...I'm bleeding, and internally..i'm mad..but play it cool...Finally after a while of dancing around and stopping his sweep and throw attempts could I get his other lapel in a good grip and I pull him to guard...didn't wrap it up well and he stood to pass...grabbed my pant legs but I wrapped my legs around ...he tries the under over pass and I counter by shifting my body out at an angle and turn in to easily reinsert my leg...he tries the other way immediately which is what I was waiting for...slapped a hard triangle on him...grabbed the leg and rolled him in a cradle to the side..couldn't tell at first if he was chocking b/c he has a huge afro but he is just strong as hell and the end was there...Night night....snoring lt;s me and the referee know he's out...Win. (Note: You punch me in the lip u go to sleep!)

Fight 5-Semi-Finals:
This one had some action as this guy was dancing all over the place...He kept trying to shoot in over and over, but I kept stuffing his shots...I grabbed him and went for a jump triangle, but he blocked it...Luckily I regained my balance Got an Advantage Pt....Made a mistake and he grabbed my leg but sprawled out and flipped him points but I'm in top....screwed up and ended up in his guard, but i moved immediately as taught...broke the guard, and moved to half guard..Advantage pt...I use this pass I picked up from watching a Saulo Ribeiro video online and I've been teaching in my class recently..worked like a charm...3pts for the pass...I decide to work Knee on Stomach Like Marcus does and Coach Allen does...they always give me hell with it so I figure give it right back...I go to knee on belly ...2Pts...and put heavy pressure which made him put his outside arm up...i move to Mount..4pts...and look up to see the score...and think a bit..but dude is pretty good so as he moves i shift my hips down for control and start working for the head-and arm choke i get it set in well...i hear his breath going and switch to knee on belly to the other side...i hear his neck crack a bit but cant tell if he is choking so as i hop off to finish i let go like a dummy...but as he sits roll away i slip onto his back...and move my legs around for an arm bar with my legs figure four'ed...he screams and taps b/c I pulled HARD...Tap. Win.

Absolute Final:
We Dance a bit...but I am tired as hell so I'm trying to finish it quickly...I go to pull guard as he is going to grab my leg...they give him 2pts for the take down (ONLY points scored on me this weekend)...But he is in my I work side to side looking for the tilt arm bar...but he makes a mistake thinking he can pass going to grab a leg...wrong move..I shoot the triangle and even though his hand is inside he says to himself "Merda" (Shit! in Portuguese)...i squeezed and kept bumping and shifting my hips until eventually he pulled his hand out as it was in an odd position and i heard his wrist giving way (it seems my extra work has made me a LOT stronger than I though)...same drill grab the leg,..roll him up into the cradle...Tap. Win.
I let out a yell and honestly was shedding tears at the win...Not because it was bigger than any I've had, but because of how hard it was to get there and make it to even compete...Just all the issues that were building and still waiting for me at home that i came through it and won...I was happy. truly happy.

I get to the podium...and there's the guy from Gracie Magazine...he takes a few pictures and I ask him did he get any of my matches ( i am sure he did but wanted to know for sure to get them from him...)...He asks if I am the guy from America with the problems (very bad English...but better than my Portuguese)...So the owner of the Gi co. told him and he'd watched my matches...he asks about how things were going and says he will put something about me onto the website and into the magazine (#132 when it comes out ... ) we will see

I get back to the the baggage people up and these fuckers cant tell me anything...Damn I hate they asses...When i call back some hours later they tell me it will be here the next day by twoas it was found in London....i explain...i need it way before then to be able to compete...they say it should be here...uh huh...

I get to sleep eventually as the time difference is fuckin with me... (im writing this at 3:12 AM Local time!!)...and sleep through a wake up call AND free breakfast..get up at 2PM...I have to compete at THREE!!!...So I dress quickly..get a cab and make it there at 2:50pm...walk in change and they are calling my division...saw MAryAnne on the way to the bullpen and told her i won last night (she said the belt was lucky...i'm inclined to believe her!)...and she was saying something about a jump triangle so we talked about em and she asked if i pulled one of fin competition...i said yeah but not a lot.....but i had to go so off to the warm up no nothing...So here goes my contest of the Super-Heavyweight Division:

First Match:
I feign a few shots..and apparently I was a good actor b/c the guy immediately goes to try to grab and pull guard...I keep my feet and push him down..he falls...he ties back up with me...I lift my left arm under his right and move to his side..i get a good grab at his left arm and throw my back leg onto his back and shoot the right over his arm i am was a thing of beauty..probably the tightest triangle i've ever's so tight looks like his eyes are bulging out..he gives his arm but taps before i can even straighten it...Tap. Win.

Second Match:
I go straight into guard...and shot an Uma Plata attempt at this guy as he was trying to lay and pray a bit...I am really undersized in this division so it made me work my angles more...As he sits up he literally lifts me off the floor...but makes the same mistake of dropping his hand thinking he can pass without more control...Bam..Triangle shot...he tries to pass and stack me the wrong way so i first grab his arm like i am going to shoulder lock him to get his foot forward...grab the leg...cradle...squeeze..hold for a LONG time...Tap. Win.

Super-Heavyweight Finals:
Dude grabs me by both lapels..and i jump guard because it was clear i couldn't get away...I slide down but don't open into guard..rather i close the legs...and trip him and take him down...2pts/Take down...I go to half guard and set up the same half-guard triangle shot as last night (from class!)...Works like a charm...shift my hips..grab the head and leg as he was too damned big to roll and squeezed..Tap. Win.'

So I am the Purple Belt Sr. 1 Absolute Champion and Super-Heavyweight Champion at the European Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu CHampionships!!!!!

Took more pics and talked to the guy from gracie magazine...He told me to look in the 132 issue for something about me...and also took a picture and talked with Fabricio Werdum...the guy was REALLY nice....congratulated me and seemed more interested in how I'd done than how much I was impressed with meeting him!...Took pictures with this drummer who beat the hell outtta the drum when someone from his team was rolling...Tried walking to the hotel and got lost as hell..There ar NO FUCKING STREET SIGNS in LISBON!!!
What the hell?? I mean i was getting a REALLY intense workout because the hills are STEEP...honestly i felt as if I'd worked out a whole leg weight workout by the time i got close tot he hotel....what is a 5 min cab ride turned into an hour and 15 minute walk...Phew...

I get about my bags..they say it SHOULD have been on a flight in to Portugal but they cant tell for sure...MAYBE it'll be here tomorrow
I tell them I leave tomorrow and need it.....................much talking and four phone calls later they tell me they got confirmation it is here and will be delivered before 2am...

It gets here at 1:03 AM!!!! With a BROKEN FRICKIN WHEEL...well actually the well is MISSING!!!!...I Am DONE ...But at least i got my bags...I stop here for now and blog the epic journey that is my trip home (complete with a 10 hour layover in Frankfurt) when I can.... Hope y'all enjoyed this...

1 comment:

Nicia said...

WOW...that is one helluva trip! You've been at your lowest & now your highest. Hopefully it'll continue to get better from here. Too bad you had to give that purple belt back. Perhaps you should have held onto it until you made it back to the good ol' USA & then mailed it to Mary Jane. (lol) CONGRATULATIONS, STEPHEN...I'm proud of you!!!