I’ve been here before. It’s the bi-annual grading for Origin Jiu-Jitsu. Celebrating the North East and beyond. It’s a chance for the teams in Newcastle, Darlington and Dundee to come together, meet up, chat shit, have a laugh and a bit of an inter-club scuffle. We’re all good cunts, y’see. Probably best to strap yourself in for this one, it’s bound to be long.
Saturday was due to be a big one, there were murmurs of BIG promotions on the side-lines and an aggreeance that those that were due to be promoted, heartily deserved it. Although in typical human fashion, I later heard the opposite well after the day’s events. Not everyone is a good cunt y’see, and people are pretty quick to critique the accomplishments of others rather than focusing on their own. Time and time again we’re told that the important focus in Jiu-Jitsu is your own journey. You shouldn’t give a shit if Claude from Team Bumchum got his purple belt after only 6 months training. You’re not the person in charge of that person’s journey, and if they don’t actually deserve it, then they’ll be found out on the mats anyways, and with a bit of work and perseverance they’ll mature over time until they do deserve it. Ya feel me? You are the creator of your own destiny, YOU ARE THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS. Woah, sorry.
I had three fights, and in each of them I was crushed. This is my first time attempting to fight as a purple belt, and my first time at the inter-club that I didn’t pull off a single victory. I felt very nervous, and very green but I wouldn’t say nerves got the better of me, because I only really get them before a fight. As soon as we shake hands, bump fists, moonwalk to our sides, twirl and then starjump I’m ready to go. This is as much a competition in my head as it is a friendly roll. These people aren’t going to try and kill me, but like a friendly roll they do want to beat me, and likewise I want to beat them.
My first fight was against a guy called Jimmy. I’ve rolled with him before some time ago. He pulled guard and I went to my usual loose knee slicer pass, it’s got pretty high success so when I failed the first time, I managed to hit it the second time and land in side control. I dropped my hips and as I loosened up to attack, Jimmy had already started to recover guard. I should have held the position, and worked out my bearings a little better, but it wasn’t to be. Not long after he recovered guard, he started to set up a cross collar choke. I could see it coming in what felt like slow motion, but my defense against it was so fucking poor. Before I knew it I had to tap or die. Shit happens, be quicker Baz.
My second fight was against Tyrone. It was a round robin, and he’d just attached himself to Jimmy’s back for an RNC. That should have gave me an insight into what to watch out for, but stopping it is another matter. His Jiu-Jitsu is sick. Tyrone is a fucking wizard, when I can’t even find your card in the full pack. Tyrone hit a single leg because he probably knew I’d expect him to pull guard. From there he attempted an armbar which I valiantly (shat my pants and pulled my arm out whilst standing up) escaped. Before I could find my bearings he was on my fucking back. I’ve watched the video, and I think he paused time or something. Once there he started to work on the choke. I defended at first, hand fighting etc. but the pressure I felt was everywhere. It was weird, but I could feel my hips and ribs tightly locked up, even though I don’t think he had a body triangle. He adjusted his grips slightly, and before I knew it he was trying to pop my head off like a cheap bottle of plonk with a vicious bow & arrow choke. It was a clinic. I tapped, brushed myself off then shot him dead in front of a startled crowd. “Just where did he get that Revolver from?” I heard one guy say. With that, I dropped a smoke bomb and left. Never to be seen again (until the open weight).
Speedy being the cunning bastard that he is decided that rather than have your normal divisions then an absolute, he’d set the day up so that we were graded between. This meant a plethora of fresh blood in new belt categories. Fighting for their lives against seasoned veterans, or something like that. Basically if you graded up to a new belt, your confidence boost was so much so, that you felt obliged to go and get smashed in the open weight. It was a great idea.
As soon as I signed up for the open weight, I knew who I’d be fighting. This is how my luck goes, y’see. Last year at the blue belt open weight, I was given Captain Redbeard, and if I told you he was a lumberjack that just pulls the trees out of the ground with his bare hands, you’d probably believe me. He made quick work of me last year with a rolling kneebar from standing, because why would I expect fucking Megatron to be able to move like that?
This year though I was given brand new, just out of the wrapper, purple belt called Karl. Let’s not kid ourselves people, Karl eats purple belts for breakfast and likely should have gotten his purple belt a long time ago. I’ve seen him roll plenty, and I’ve seen videos of competing, and dispatching his foes like they slapped him with a wet glove beforehand.
He grabbed a hold of me, pulled guard, and the rest is a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember him reaching behind my head with his right hand, passing my right lapel with his left hand to his right hand, and then things started to go blurry. I lasted a few seconds more than I should have on the account of my big chin, but once he adjusted my brain said fuck you Barry, as the oxygen supply was restricted. I tapped. Karl went on to win the open weight, with everyone suffering the same fate. Couple of minutes, max. He’s a beast.
Before I move onto the gradings, let’s talk a bit about the rest of the competitors I was lucky enough to see. I’ll start with us Dundee lot, because I train with them all the time, and it would be a bit of a dick move if I didn’t. So besides myself, Donald, Frank, Grant, Kev, Paul C, Paul P, Roddy & Ronnie competed. Now Roddy’s actually a defector, he moved back to Ebinburgh and more commonly trains through there, but he still makes the occasional fleeting pass through our gym just to beat people up, so we’re still lumping him in with us.
The guys I watched compete were great.
Paul P as ever is a stud, that makes people question strength as a concept when he gets a hold of him. His base is so fucking solid it’s ridiculous, but then a judo black belt will do that. He effortlessly got people to the ground, even when they tried to throw him, and he handily won fights with not even a bead of sweat broken (he was a fucking mess, looked like he’d been through a pissing car wash).
Paul C and Donald impress me every time they step on the mat. They’ve come on so far, so quickly it’s great to see. Their resilience and determination is incredible to watch, as they constantly hunt for submissions. Neither of them particularly cares about being in a bad position, because this is submission only, and that’s the way you should be thinking. You have the liberty of time on your side, so they regroup, work their way back to a better position and go on the hunt again. It’s brilliant to watch either of these guys compete.
Frank was very excitable and there for the experience. He looked like a man possessed when he hit the mats. I’m not really sure what he was possessed by, but he gave it his all.
Ronnie had tough fights. He’s seldom in a position where the person he’s fighting is stronger than him, or at least that’s how I feel when I see him roll. He’s improving all the time and using his strength when necessary, but not relying on it entirely. His maturity on the mats have been there from day one.
Kev looked good in his fights, his attacking in the first was on point but he didn’t take the piss, because his opponent was quite green, and his second fight was against Captain Redbeard. I hear they’re still cleaning Kev’s blood off of the ceiling. Captain Redbeard hit the right button combination and landed a FATALITY.
Roddy was basically Odin of the white belt world. His movement, positioning, and hunt for submissions was all incredible to watch. He’s an absolute monster, and will be seriously fucking people up in the grappling world for years to come.
Now Grant. He had a fucking hellacious first fight. The guy was strong as fuck and looked like he couldn’t really be shifted. Grant still controlled, but afterwards he looked like he’d gone five rounds with a fighting fit Mike Tyson. Grant and Paul P had to clash for the good of mankind. At one point, I could see Grant muttering to Paul that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was shit, and Paul lost the plot and pulled his arm off there and then.
I fear I’ve rambled an awful lot here, but I’m going to keep going because I have more to cover. Sorry guys, you can have a tea break if you want. Have a biscuit.
The day actually started with a load of kids competing. It’s a very different atmosphere to watching kids play other sports, because the parents at the sidelines actually know what they’re talking about, and throw constructive feedback, rather than anything harmful to the other party. I didn’t expect there to be kids competing to be honest, but it was great to see the future of the sport at such a young age. They all had a fun, and were trying to pull each other apart. Watching kids beat each other up is bloody brilliant.
It was really good to see the likes of Scuba Steve, Foz, Kung Foo Panda there and competing. They’re all great guys. Scuba’s progression in the last year is obscene, and he wasn’t bad to begin with! He was strong, clinical and aggressive in his approach to his fights. His understanding of the game has drastically changed with his more focused approach on teaching. When you have to compartmentalise something as basic as an armbar, you start to realise how many steps there are in that process. If you can explain an armbar to kids, and have them do it with good technique, your own understanding of that armbar is going to be heightened. Rinse and repeat for every technique, ever.
Shall we waffle on to the gradings now? Now, I can’t even begin to cover everyone who was graded because there as a lot of gradings handed out. So I’m going to focus on notable ones, the ones that I remember.
The jist is, everyone did well and the few that weren’t graded now have fuel for the next one in November. All the kids ranked up, which was great to see because they went for it. It’s an accomplishment they should be proud of.
Donald, Paul C, Roddy & Ronnie all received stripes on their white belts.
Some devious bastard came up with the idea of giving Kev his fourth stripe of his white belt, before calling him back for his blue belt (me). I can only imagine the torment he felt when he received that stripe, because he has been training for years, on and off admittedly but training nonetheless. I think he started BJJ before I did, to be honest. He pissed his pants with excitement when he got his blue belt, and his face has never looked more smug.
Grant and Paul P were awarded their purple belts. I was so happy to have have witnessed this, because we’re all very much on the same page mentally with all this bollocks. We know when one another is down, or not putting the effort in that they should be, and have pushed one another at the right times. They truly are great team mates.
I don’t really what to skim at this point, as I know other notable members of Speedy and Dom’s gyms received stripes, but we have to move onto the big ones.
Tyrone and Scuba both received their brown belts. There aren’t two more deserving people I can think of. Each has a completely different approach to Jiu-Jitsu, but they’re both so fucking good it’s sickening to watch. If I’m half as good as either one day, I’ll know I’ve made it, and I think I can speak for everyone else that frequents any of the Origin affiliated gyms. Their hard work, determination, and approaching to not only their own progression but everyone else’s is exactly the sort of thing Jiu-Jitsu needs. They’re open books of technique, and for only $9.99 a month, they share that knowledge on tyroneandscubalovetograpple.com.
A big thanks goes to Speedy and his wife Ritu for organising such a fun day out. Everything pre-5pm was brilliant. You can tell they really care about this sport, and the people involved.
The less said about my journey home, the better.
OH! I got a stripe. I forgot about that. Right, time to go. Adios.