While my friends and training partners were getting ready for the DC Open they kept telling me “You should do it!” Now I hardly trained at all this past summer. Besides Thai Camp, I mostly focused on running the kids summer camp at my academy which takes up most of my time. So I didn’t sign up right away because I did think I’d be ready. Around two weeks out the registration closed for the DC Open and I just brushed it off. I guessed I missed my opportunity to compete. Then Master Pedro Sauer mentioned to me in passing that the Rickson Gracie Cup was happening the same weekend up in Albany, New York. I thought to myself…why not! I booked a flight using my miles from United and registered for the tournament that same night.
The Rickson Gracie Cup is a unique tournament experience. Not only was there a tournament on Sunday there was also a Master Rickson Gracie Seminar on Saturday evening and a self-defense demo by Master Pedro Sauer before the start of the tournament. The goal of the tournament is to bring Jiu-Jitsu back to its roots, self-defense. There are no advantages, penalties for staling, and also penalties for pull guard. The goal is to try to push the action to make the competitors go for the submission. I was very excited to be a part of it.
Landed in Albany, New York around 10ish. Got picked up by my buddies who decided to drive up. (I don’t know why they did…) From the airport, we went straight to the weigh-ins. The Rickson Cup does weigh-ins the day before so that way you don’t have to worry about it the day of. The weight brackets were also pretty big, mine was 151-170 lbs. Regardless I was still nervous about making weight. (If you don’t know why check out my previous post about cutting weight.) Of course, we all made weight. Afterward, we had brunch at the Tippsy Moose for a post-weigh-in meal. It was amazing, David totally won with his hamburger on french toast. Not Gracie Diet approved…We all went back to the hotel and took a nap to get ready for the Rickson Seminar that evening.
The seminar was amazing. This is my 5th seminar with Rickson and it is always an experience. The seminar focus on Jiu Jitsu as a lifestyle, Jiu Jitsu for life. It was the perfect cross-section between philosophy and martial arts. It was also the only time that I’ve been at a seminar and you were allowed to take video and pictures. That alone was worth the trip. Rickson went over some very interesting concepts: self-defense, training methodology, and connection. But my personal favorite part of the seminar was when Rickson did Q & A. He answered specific questions about certain positions, which was gold! Afterwards, we all got pictures with Master Sauer, Master Rickson, and Chris Hauter (who punched me in the throat..!)
Then is back to the hotel for bad takeout and some sleep for the big day tomorrow.
So let me start off by saying the positives of the day:
- I enjoyed the rules that were used for the tournament
- Master Sauer got to watch one of my matches
- I found out I’m much better at takedowns than I thought
Now let’s talk about the negatives:
- My bracket was forgotten about…twice.
- I only got two matches
- I found out that I really need to prepare for tournaments
My big goal for this tournament was to just go out there and compete again, not get injured, and have fun. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win though, who doesn’t. So I was a bit bummed that I didn’t win all my matches but it was a great learning experience. I was also so happy to have the support of my team and instructor there. It made it all the better.
After the tournament, I went back to my hotel to have celebratory gluten-free pizza by myself. All in all, it was a good weekend. I’m a little disappointed by my performance but I take it as a learning experience and a great way to get back into competing again. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.