Wow, what a week!!!!
As some of you will know, I have been involved in martial arts for a long time, however the last week has definitely been a very new experience for me.
A few months ago I discovered that one of my styles of Ju-Jitsu is affiliated with a style which competes on an international basis. So I looked in to it and found out that they were running trials, it was completwely different to anything I had done before but I figured what’s the worst that could happen? I went to the two final training and selection sessions.
Much to my amazement I made the team, which gave me the opportunity to represent my Nation on a world scale. Naturally I was very happy and honored, but didn’t really feel as though I was ready for it with such short notice. However there was no way I could refuse such an offer.
My next problem was funding, at the moment there is not much money in martial arts in Britain. My target was £800, how was I supposed to raise that? Yet again the odds seemed stacked against me and I started ringing round. I have been refused by local companies, national and international companies, magazines, shops, national lottery, sporting councils, governing bodies etc……..
My first glimmer of light came from the wonderful people at Huddersfield University, they agreed to fund half of the cost in return for a picture in the University paper-a more than generous offer.
I then turned to individual sponsorship, getting my money pound by pound but I was still short. Time was ticking and by shear luck in the last week I was offered enough from the Students Union combined with the North East region Jitsu Foundation to meet my target.
I had made my financial target and all that was left to do was get on the plane to Uruguay in South America for the World Ju-Jitsu Championships!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, we flew out last Thursday, arrived on Friday for the competition on Saturday. And I had a serious shock before the flight, according to a friends set of digital scales, I was overweight by about 1 ½ kilos. I started eating a lot of pineapple (diuretic) to try and loose weight and stopped eating for the next day. I weighed myself before the official weigh in and was plenty under the weight I needed, panic over. I waited till I weighed in and then ate like there was no tomorrow, earlier on a few of us had gone to the local supermarket for that nights feast. As some of you will probably know buying food when hungry is a bad idea and the four of us were ravenous – I have no idea how we carried it back to the hotel.
Well, all the build up ended on Saturday morning and it was time for the fighting to commence, I didn't know what to expect. My first fight turned out to be Poland’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger – I was not convinced he should be in my weight category but what can you do?
I might have done OK if I could have kept him at striking range but alas he grabbed me, I grabbed him and tried to move him. Have you ever seen comedy sketches when someone hits some guy square in the face and he doesn’t move - you know exactly what comes next; that’s what I felt like at that point! He picked me up and dumped me with a belly to belly supplex, not really a Ju-Jitsu technique but it certainly worked. Latter I found out that you could be 3-4 kilos over the weight; they called it travel weight – why did nobody tell me this? My next fight was against a Belgian, he was a good fighter but I think I could have beaten him only a judges decision went badly and I got disqualified-before you ask no there were no injuries. So that as they say was that.
I decided to sit back and enjoy the rest of the competition, one thing I feel has to be said the Pole (named Marek Krajewski) was cheated out of his position in the finals by what was in my opinion (and everyone else’s I could see) over acting by feigning injury and literally running away from the Pole by Gregory Vallarino, the eventual winner (from Uruguay) of the weight category he should have been penalized as others were which would have led to a disqualification. I found this both distasteful and underhanded and not becoming of a martial artist at all.
That aside there was some really good fights and there were some very, very skilled fighters which at times was a pleasure to watch. There wasn’t as much groundwork as I would have liked but I still really enjoyed the whole experience.
To top it all of, our internal flight to Brazil was delayed which meant we missed our flight back to London. So the airline (Varig) rescheduled our flight for the next day and put us up in a 5 star hotel in Brazil- what more could you ask for, so I got a day to look around Sao Paulo, fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!
I got home on Wednesday night and slept.