Monday, March 19, 2007

2007 Michigan Open Judo Championships Re-cap

The 2007 Michigan Open Judo Championships brought out some of the best competition that I have seen in the state tournaments in my limited Judo experience. The tournament was held in the Intramural sports facility adjacent to the MSU football stadium in East Lansing, MI, and was run on 2 large mats. Many of the previous tournaments run by the Konan Judo Association have utilized this facility. If you do come to a tournament at this location, bring you're own water/drinks/snacks as the vending machines are unreliable, and bring some extra cash in case you need to pay for parking. In the past, parking has always been free, but on this occassion the NCAA Women's Basketball Championships were being held on campus so they started to charge for parking around 10:30 A.M. My only gripe about this particular tournament is that #1: it was held the day after St. Patrick's Day and I was unable to go out with my friends the night before. And, #2: it was running about an hour behind schedule. This was due to the unexpectedly large kids division and unorganized awards ceremony for the kids and junior divisions.

Due to my recent experience at the Arnold's and my curosity of possibly also competing in the Master's Division, I arrived early to the tourny (around 10:00 A.M.). I decided to not compete in the Master's Divison due to a lack of competition at my weight, but I am still glad that I showed up early. The kids and Juniors Division were awesome! There's something rather admirable about watching kids execute perfect throws and pins that makes me enjoy watching a good kids division. Also, I love the way the kids accept both victory and defeat in stride - unlike some of their adult counterparts. The kids, in their oversized little judogis, get thrown for an Ippon and bounce right up, often with a smile on their face. I admire them for their humbleness and joy for the sport. In the kids and Juniors Division, Team Tsunami from Toronto, Canada really stood out. They showed up in a decked out Team van and wore Team Tsunami jackets and warm up gear. The Tsunami kids were on fire and a big hand goes out to them, the Tsunami team and their parents and coaches. These kids were well skilled and very well mannered, same goes for their parents. Thanks for coming out and doing well. Other notables will be mentioned once I get a peek at the results, but it was Team Tsunami, who came all the way from Toronto, that really stood out in my mind in the kids Division. I wish I was that good when I was their age.

On to the adult divisions. The heavy weight Master's Black Belt Division looked fierce this year with some awefully big boys chucking each other around out on the mat. One second I would be watching a a team mate competing in a novice match on Mat #2 when all of a sudden I'd hear THUD! Followed by "Ohhh's!" from the crowd in response to 500 lbs. of meat hitting the ground on Mat #1. These gentlemen were giving it all they had and some were taking quite a pounding. I believe a powerhouse judoka from Orion Judo won the black belt Heavy weight Master's Division.

This was my first Judo Tournament fighting against black belts. Let me tell you, I have learned a valuable lesson. I have finally found the environment that will help me improve my stand up game to new levels. Since starting Judo back in September, I have walked away from every tournament with at least a silver medal. But not this time. I was stopped short in my tracks by Dusty Moran from Southside Dojo in Portage, MI, and had to settle with a 4th place finish in the under 90kg black belt division. Dusty and I have a similar style and prefer the same 3 throws in competition, but he is better at those 3 throws than I am. Dusty and his team mate Ron Blake both fought in 2 black belt divisons (Ron -73kg and -90kg (although he registered for -73kg and -81kg) and Dusty at -81kg and -90kg). Dusty had just won the -81kg black belt division and was fighting up in weight when he and I met. He was on his 6th match by that time. A huge credit goes out to him for what he accomplished at this tournament. Ron reported to me in an email that he was happy that his children Max (3 yrs old) and Jada (2 yrs old) were there to see him compete and see their daddy take 2nd place in the -73kg division. Ron and Dusty have extended an invite for me to come train with them at the Southside Dojo, and I fully intend to take them up on it. Dusty, Ron and Richard Boehme from Southside Dojo will be competing in the Nationals in April of this year.

The under 90kg Black Belt Division started off with 7 judokas. Three of which were from EMU (Christian Gerlitz, Clint Denison and myself), 2 from Southside Dojo (Ron Blake and Dusty Moran) and Ron Maly from an unknown dojo and one other whom I'm unfamiliar with but will add their name once the results are posted. The division wrapped up with my team mate Christian Gerlitz taking 1st place. Christian is awesome, and not just because he beat me in his 2nd match! Christian first beat Ron Blake by submission (collar choke), myself by Ippon, and Ron Maly by drop Ippon seoi nage - his signature throw. Christian has an unorthodox gripping game in that he is right handed but prefers to fight left handed or with modified right handed Russian and Japanese grips. He loves the Ippon seoi nage and the Sode tsurikomi goshi and is incredibly fast at executing both of them. Dusty finished in 2nd place and his opponent, Ron Maly, finished 3rd. I missed medalling and took 4th (beating the judoka that put Dusty into the losers pool) and I believe that my other team mate, Clint, finished in 5th after a possibly questionable call.

Below are some pics from the tourny and the videos of my 3 matches. I put sound tracks over my first two matches, but on the third - due to a referee controversy I didn't.

The tournament area. Two competition mats and a warm up are in the foreground.

Left to Right: Myself and my EMU team mates Luke and Dane.

My "Judo Mom" girlfriend Courtney and me waiting in the bleachers.

Taping up in the bleachers.

My BJJ and Judo team mate, Matt, taking a break from Judo competitions to prep for the BJJ Pan Ams. But, he stopped by the Judo tourny to slurp up my Capri Suns and eat my bananas.

Despite the McNinjas (from my McDojo story) I found a brown belt.

A little Uchikomi with my team mate Luke to warm up.

Kinda hard to see, but this is the aftermath of Luke trying out his drop Ippon seoi nage on the warm up mats and after he landed on the third toe of my left foot with his knee. I am standing on the warm up mats in the pic. Luke might have just broken my toe right before this competition. It's so hard to tell with toes. I don't think this instance has anything to do with me being in the same black belt division as his brother... does it? Luke could be a crafty Ninja...

I think Luke nearly broke my toe before the tournament. If it's not broke... well, it hurts and I'm a baby.

Yep. It's ugly. Might not be broken, despite being lumpy, swollen and purple. Luke, you suck! I had no idea how important a healthy left foot is to a right handed thrower in judo until now. Luke, you're the reason that I lost! Just kidding! I have to make fun of you over this, I hope you understand.

Here's the vids:

Here's my first match against my team mate Christian Gerlitz. I'm wearing the blue belt in this match. I am limping because the second toe on my left foot was dislocated and is sprained and my third toe on the same foot is banged up and possibly broken. Note to self: If you're a primarily right handed thrower, your left foot is very important. Anyway, Christian is giving my a frickin' clinic in the Ippon seoi nage - which is my favorite throw to do. He went on to win 1st place in the under 90kg black belt division and I am proud to have fought him and have him on my team. I was close to getting Ipponed many times and eventually was - my first defeat by Ippon.

Here's my second match against and unknown black belt competitor. I'm wearing the white belt in this match. I missed the drop Yoko sutemi waza and he took my back with hooks, but as I had his right arm trapped under me there was not much he could do. In judo, there are no points for him taking my back, unlike BJJ, so no worries there. Afterwards, he lunged for a kouchi gari makikomi and scored a koka but I hip escaped to put him in my guard and caught him in an arm lock. His elbow popped a little bit, but he was tough and went on to fight another match after me, despite his damaged arm.

*NOTE* The above video is taking a long time to load, but will play. I will try to upload a new version tonight (3/20/07).

My 3rd match against Dusty Moran from Southside Dojo in Portage, MI. I'm wearing the Blue belt. I tried a drop Ippon seoi nage at the 0:08 mark and really banged my left knee up bad. That's why I was bending over and holding my knee the rest of the match. This, combined with my left foot injury, really cut down on my mobility and made me hesitant. My girlfriend was yelling for me not to push into him as he loves the drop Ippon seoi as well, but I was trying to bait him into a ground game by pushing into him and hoping that I could counter his throws. At the 0:53 mark I was able to do so, and was working a clock choke and was about a 1/2 of a second away from executing the choke until it was stopped at the 1:02 mark (i was only given 9 seconds to work on the ground, which is about 6 seconds short of what is normally allowed for ground work). Some of my Team mates might argue that my Ippon seoi nage attempt at 2:45 was an Ippon, but watching it in slo-mo shows that only Dusty's right shoulder blade hits the mat - not his full back. This clip doesn't have a music soundtrack, because there is some referee controversy, and I wanted to show that. This poor ref (from Southside?) was having a some trouble with this match. Being a Judo Ref or a BJJ Ref is hard work. Overall, this was a good match and I definitely want a rematch against Dusty when he is fresh ( and 6 more seconds to work on the ground!). He was tired from many matches and I was a bit injured. It would be more fun when we are both at the top of our games.


clint said...

Nice pictures and videos. There's a lot of good stuff to look at in the vids.

99% sure that toe is broken, haha. Doesn't look like you broke it all the way through (otherwise it would be black/blue on top) but you probably cracked it.

All the southside guys are cool. I really want to get back over there one of these Sundays for a workout.

Alex K said...

I trained Judo at Southside over the summer. They have a very solid program there. I almost went to the Lansing tournament, but I had something else going on that weekend.... maybe next one.