After coaching the kids I ended up sitting around for several hours snacking and talking to Noah's dad. Saying it was going to be a long day was an understatement. Oddly enough the wait didn't get to me. Going in, I was as relaxed with an impending competition as I've ever been. While there were some nerves I felt fine with whatever the the outcome would be. I felt confident, I had no nagging injuries, and most importantly I just felt balanced.
Well, that was until I lost my first match. I honestly felt embarrassed. Not because he didn't do a good job, because he did. I was embarrassed that I was submitted by a move that I love doing. It's my favorite submission. It's the one I've been doing for YEARS, yet here I was caught in it and having no way out so I was forced to tap.
Between the first and second fights a bunch of negative thoughts ran through my head. This was a Master's division in where my opponent and I were the only two competitors which meant that it was a best of three bracket. Enrick's submission in the first fight put me behind which made me start thinking, "Shit, I'm going to end up getting silver in a two man race." Thankfully, I had enough time to regroup mentally. Between rounds I reminded myself that I'm fully warmed up and that I needed to address how I was beat. Keep my elbows tight and lets see what else he can do other than the Kimura.
I will say that throughout the three fights we had he did this collar grip while in my closed guard that really bugged me. I'm used to guys getting that grip but at chest level and never pushing into the throat so it took me a bit to finally start responding to it remotely effectively. Even when I was able to pull the grip off his other hand always found a way to come back into position which halted my advancement.
In the end what I took away from these three fights with him was how well I responded to adversity. I was behind in the best of three, behind on points, had a cramp in my calf during the second fight around the 2:50 mark, yet still won the the second fight with just twelve second remaining in the match. I don't know if I would have responded like this a few years ago. I would think I would but it's really hard to honstly say.
After the fight I ran into Enrick who ended up sitting down with me and chatting about how he was competing at Master's Worlds later in the month and that how he could use a training partner his size leading up to it. Being the super social guy that I am, not at all, I agreed to meet up. Hopefully that happens because I'm all for learning from as many people as possible.