Almost, but not quite – progress in disguise. 

Forever chasing gold, forever coming up short.

It’s been almost two weeks of thinking and reflecting since my last competition, and while my results were not hugely different to some previous competitions, I left the Edinburgh Open proud of what I had accomplished.

The morning of the competition, I caught a train leaving Aberdeen at 5:46am. 12 hours later, I left Meadowbank with three medals and a beaming grin. After a long day, with a lot of mat time and even more waiting around, I was the proud owner of a silver in u64 Gi, a silver in u61.5 NoGi and a bronze in absolute NoGi.

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Nothing worth having comes easy. (Scott Hills Photography)

So, I didn’t get the gold that I had trained so hard for.

In material, I hadn’t made any real progress, but in substance my results were actually a great improvement on my previous competitions. Out of the ten matches I had, I lost three by submission and one on points… But, I won my other six matches by submission.

It was rewarding to see that the techniques which I had been drilling for months and working hard to land in rolling actually worked in practice.  In my opening match I landed my favourite bow and arrow choke and in my subsequent matches I was able to land a few arm bars (my other go to  submission).  As your training partners learn your game, it can be difficult to nail your favourite submissions in rolling, so landing them in competition is certainly reassuring.

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Attempting to set up a short choke, shown to me in a brutal two and a half hour session with Dustin ‘Clean’ Denes back in March. (Scott Hills Photography)

After a competition its nice to look back at what you’ve achieved, but its more important to look back at your mistakes.

With that in mind I can confirm, there are definite holes in my game, although from being tapped numerous times each session, I was pretty aware of this already. However, competitions provide a much more focussed look into your weaknesses. In the u64 Gi final, a momentary posture mistake meant I lost the final to an arm bar. I didn’t defend my neck in the earlier rounds of both Gi and NoGi absolute and lost out to an Ezekiel in both. In the final of u61.5 NoGi, I lost on points. Despite the unfavourable result, that final was probably my favourite match of the day as it was so competitive, but it also revealed areas where my game could be stronger. I know that with some conscientious work, these mistakes are all fixable.  

All I can do is to continue turning up, working hard and putting in the mat time – slowly but surely, this regime has been working so far. 

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A medal I’m proud of, but hopefully my last silver for a while.

I’ve acquired a number of medals over the last 10 months, and not all of them represent wins to me. However, those medals and the memories I associate with them are still important. When I look at them, I remember the disappointment that crowded my mind, how defeated I felt and how close to quitting I was. Sometimes it’s hard to revisit those memories, but I’ve found that doing so has improved my motivation greatly and has helped me to evaluate my progress through the sport.

Its nice to have three new medals that I can associate with better memories of stronger performances. Hopefully I can keep adding to this collection, but for now, the journey continues.

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