Back at the end of last year before I got promoted to purple belt, I decided to have another crack at the West Japan tournament to be held in March 2013 as a blue belt. Then a spanner was thrown in the works with my promotion and also the announcement that Marco Barbosa would be coming at that time and holding a competition in his name. Since my lineage is from him, I wanted to give my support and enter his instead of the West Japan one. The other factor was that F-sensei wanted as many of our guys to enter the Copa Barbosa. I had experienced a large group of us together in a tournament back 2 years ago and enjoyed it very much. Since then only around 3-4 people have entered when I've gone to compete and it had always felt a bit of a letdown. Not enough camaraderie. 11 of us entered the Copa Barbosa and so I was really looking forward to it.
This was the first tournament in which I had zero jitters. Maybe it was that I was a new purple belt so very little pressure on me to do well. Or that I have been to Handa many times and it feels like a 2nd home to me now. I rested well before getting up early on Sunday and joined Dmitri, K-sensei and Makoto Ogasawara (2008 Mundial's Masters Brown-belt Champion) in the car and was whisked off to Handa.
Although, the competition started late at 11 am, there was a 6 mat setup so the matches went really fast and the whole thing finished at around 5 pm. It was very efficient if not for the late start. There were not so many Brazilian competitors, and most were Japanese. This is not surprising since Marco Barbosa was the Prometheus of BJJ in the Aichi area and at that time there was not such a large Brazilian community as there was after that period or today. There was also one famous face in the crowd, Masakazu Imanari, who is called (足関十段) ashikan-jyudan in Japanese which means literally 10th dan of leg joints but sounds better as Master of leglocks. Dmitri and I had a photo taken with him. He is apparently well known for this pose. If you have ever lived in Japan, then you should know it symbolizes the female clitoris. The guy is known as a bit of a bad boy after all! He came to lend support to Marco Barbosa since both his brown and black belt were awarded to him from Barbosa. I watched him go against F-sensei in a match. About 15 seconds later the match had ended and F-sensei limped off after a fairly brutal Achilles straight heel lock.
Before my match I watched the white belts. 3 guys from our gym, Dmitri, Kondo and Kusanagi. Kusanagi lost to the guy who went to the final. While Dmitri and Kondo faced off against each other. The two of them are both judoka based and are always game for a good scrap during regular training. For me, it was the highlight of the day to see them go up against each other like that. Here's the match below.
Dmitri went on to the finals where he lost on points. He mentioned later that he thought he would not concede any points if he was swept but landed in bottom closed guard. Rookie mistake but it has given him more drive to compete in BJJ which is all good.
I felt very dissatisfied after the match. Not with my performance but the fact it was only one match. Next time I compete, it will be either in a younger category or also in the open division so I can get more bang for my buck and increase the experience.
We all got thoroughly pissed out of our heads later that night. 2 guys got promoted. Tete-kun to black belt before he goes off on March 30th to Vietnam where I hope he will open a dojo so I can go visit and Christiano who is now brown. All the guys disappeared off to a topless bar deep into the night. I went home cursing that I had to go to work the next day, which I didn't in the end because I was still swaggering when I woke the next morning.
All in all, the best fun packed tournament I've been to date even if my own personal result was crap.