This weekend I competed for the first time in a NAGA tournament and what will be the LAST time I ever compete in a NAGA tournament. Just a laundry list of issues I have with the tournament. Though there were maybe a handful of things I viewed as positives, they were easily outnumbered by the negatives.
1. Who allows all submissions for all levels, including kids? I saw so many can openers, bad leg locks being applied it was ridiculous. Why let people who barely understand the difference between a heel hook and a straight foot lock rip each others legs apart? In a beginner match before mine, I watched as a guy sat in his opponent's guard and attempt a can opener for half of the match. I was waiting for the guy's spine to come ripping out, it was horrible.
2. So many injuries. Probably due to number 1. Every 5 minutes you would hear the MC call for a medic to a different ring. Myself and 2 of my teammates both were victims of injuries, luckily not due to an idiot trying a move they barely understand. I'll go on about mine later.
3. Inconsistent reffing. I'm sure this could be argued in almost any tournament, but I saw sweeps not being called, slams being ignored and just downright idiotic decisions to award points for shiet that never happened.
4. Hygiene. There was a rumor floating around that NAGA does not use new mats for every event like Grapplers Quest and that they travel everywhere using the same mats. I thought this was just "hate" and NAGA would do the right thing by properly cleaning their mats. After this weekend's display of "cleaning" I highly doubt they clean their mats. Medics would be called to rings and told to bring paper towels and they would proceed to clean the blood off of the mats with paper towels and walk away. No disinfectant...NOTHING!!!
5. Lack of crowd control. During my match there were 20 people on my mat screaming and yelling. Literally on the mat, shoes and all. My opponent's coach was literally a foot away from us while we were on the ground yelling in our ears. Why in the hell do you allow so many people on the mat for one and two let them stay on the mat with shoes. Now you've allowed all the bathroom junk to make it's way on to the mats that people are rolling on and we all know how well they "clean" the mats.
I found NAGA to be quite irresponsible in how they allowed children to attempt such dangerous holds and their utter disrespect for cleanliness. It's sad how a competitor who keeps themselves clean out of respect for the sport and their opponent can get a deadly infection like staph because of an organization's irresponsibility.
With that all out of the way, let me now go on about my match. I weighed in at 168.5, because I didn't want to kill myself in such a short amount of time to make 159.9. Cutting 7 lbs was easy and actually helped my performance. I signed up for Masters Intermediate no-gi and Masters Blue Belt but ended up only competing in no-gi.
When I get called for my division, I drop off my card and find out that there are no other competitors in the Masters Intermediate. I'm thinking, great gimme my medal I'll sit and wait to be called for the blue belt competition...HAHA. Of course you can't medal like that and they ask me if I want to do the Adult Intermediate and I say of course. After saying yes, I got the eerie feeling everyone thought I was the biggest pussy for signing up for Masters. I choose to compete in Masters, because quite frankly I know everyone else who signed up in Masters is probably in the same boat as me. Has a job they have to go to later on in the week, a family to go home to and they're not trying to do jiu jitsu as a career but more as a hobby. I end up chatting it up with another competitor who just so happens to be 39 years old and wants to "challenge himself", which I took as a complete slap in my face. To make things worse, before they set the brackets, we find out there are 5 of us who are 30 and over and they call the other 4 and ask if they would wanna do our own division. One by one each guy says no, not wanting to be the pussy.
I get paired up with a guy who is easily 6'1" and probably 180 by the time of the competition. This guy is HUGE. We start and as always I take the first minute to feel them out and see what they wanna do, takedown or pull guard, while avoiding it. The first minute we're pummeling and he consistently is faking the shot, but never commits and I can tell I'm gonna have to shoot or pull. I set up a doulbe leg and turn the corner and land perfectly into sidemount. He attempts to escape but I kept good pressure and maintained top position. We eventually scramble and I look for a guillotine then get guard. He eventually stands and I jump off. I'm up on points and get another takedown. From there I eventually get a a triangle (which I wasn't awarded points for), transition it to an omoplata (submission attempt points not awarded again), I sweep him with the omoplata (points not awarded). We scramble again and he takes my back, but I backdoor my way out. We eventually stand again with a minute left. I get a takedown with 30 seconds left and make the stupid mistake of trapping his legs giving him a submission (guillotine). They award the points to him and we magically end tied 7-7. In overtime I make another brainfart by pulling guard and he disengages then charges at me and plants his knee between my eyes. I go out for a half second and am left with welt on my head.
I was told that my match was really good and that I looked very impressive. The 39 year old who "pussy commented" me said it was a great match and it was a bummer that I couldn't continue. I really want to see the video. It felt good to hear my brother say my transitions looked really smooth considering I have been working on my transitions between armbar-triangle-omoplata the first 3 months of this year.
With all that said a couple of items to focus on:
1. Tighten up the armbar-triangle-omoplata. Try and finish when you get into the sequence. I was able to get the sweep when I went triangle to omoplata, but I do want to get to a point where it's over once I figure out which I can take.
2. Really think about what weight class to compete in. I didn't feel gassed at 169.9 and I didn't feel like the guy I went against was all that stronger. I've always felt weak at 159.9 though maybe it's due to my weight cutting process. Best thing to do is to maintain at no higher than 172 lbs and continue to focus on my strength.
3. Continue to focus on taking the back and securing the back. I had a chance at taking my opponent's back, but goofed it up. Back taking and the arm-tri-omo will be the focus until the start of summer.
All in all, it was a great learning experience but a crappy tournament.