After Thursday, my last night of training, I just kicked back and let my body heal up a bit. I think it's important to allow the central nervous system to catch up and recover. As seems to be my usual habit now for the day before competition, I don't really eat much after 6 pm and I take a trip to a hot spring. In the morning I played a few Bullyproof games with my son but other than that did not roll or exercise at all. I've been having a lot of wrist pain so wanted to let that heal as much as possible also. I also had a 2 hour nap on Saturday afternoon and slept pretty much 8 hours on Friday and Saturday night. However, for some reason, on Saturday my sleep was shallow and not restful at all. My brain kept turning over techniques and would not let me sleep initially.
The day of the competition came and I took a train ride to the Aichi Budokan. The wife needed the car so I had to take public transport which I did not enjoy at all. I am the type of person who gets tired very quickly when around crowds of people. Ironic that I should chose to live in a country like Japan with twice the population of the UK and less land area. I got there on time anyway and sat down to watch the white belt matches. The mats were a cool blue and pale yellow which made the competitors stand out and gave a much sharper image when recording the matches. A barrier had also been erected which kept people wandering onto the mats. I handed over 1,000 yen for my life-time JJFJ card and was told I'd get my t-shirt sent to me. I watched Arata-kun from our dojo lose his match. He seemed a little down about that as expected. This was around 10.30 am. I ate some food around this time to allow around 2 hours for my food to digest before my match started at 12.30 pm.
I have to say that JJFJ runs a tight ship. Their tournament ran flawlessly on time, in fact sometimes categories finished early. The week before they post the time for each belt bracket and competitors have to arrive 30 mins before that time. Blue belts started from 12.30 pm so effectively I could have just turned up at 12 noon and competed soon after. Medals were also give out within 20 minutes after the matches ended. In effect you could arrive and be out the door within an hour if you so chose to do so. If you love efficiency then JJFJ tournaments are for you.
Around 1 pm I was called to the mats. I'd already spied the guys I would go up against and saw them on the mat waiting. The officials took my weight right before entering the area. It was 73.4 kg with the kimono which I think is lighter than I usually am. They measured my kimono and everything checked out ok.
I started my match looking for a single leg takedown but did not have the correct distance so I pulled guard and tried to sweep or armbar. Both failed and I got passed and pinned. I lost that match and the official said that I could go again against the 2nd competitor because there were only 3 of us. My first reaction, coming off a defeat, was to say no. But I didn't like how that sounded in my head so agreed to do it. If anything it would add to my tournament experience and it would make sure that both guys got an equal amount of mat time before the final. I have to say that my confidence was low at this point and I expected to lose. However, I was much more relaxed than the 1st match and tried my best but he was just better than me. The 2nd match I expected him to pull guard because I have matched up against the same guy before about a year ago. He didn't so I thought about going to sitting guard but not a lot of strategy was going through my mind at this time. As I remember it without looking at the video, he went to pass, I tried to stop it and eventually turtled, we were reset in the center, he got my back and a hand in the collar, I turned into him to pull to half-guard but he was choking me as I turned. It grew tighter and I had to tap. So there I was in 3rd place. I was really glad they gave me an opportunity to fight twice. Sure I am disappointed but it makes me want to train more.
Later I watched K-sensei go up against Satoshi Souza from Bonsai Jiu-jitsu. The guy is a top level competitor and the room felt unnaturally quiet as we all watched him move over the mat. He is amazing to watch.