Second Place Out of Two


I like to compete because I like to measure myself against other athletes. I like having a snapshot in time that answers the question, how good am I right now at Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I also like to take risks and challenge myself. I get bored easily, and pushing boundaries and myself enlivens me. I’m thirty-five with two kids. There’s only so many times I can sing the “ABC Song” with feigned enthusiasm before I snap. Day trips to a tournament site remind me of old little league summer travel teams. We’re just driving to play a game. Yesterday, after waking up a 5:45am, I picked up a friend in New Haven, Connecticut, and drove to Danvers, Massachusetts (just north of Boston), for a Tap Cancer Out tournament.

The road was blissful without traffic. Fall seems to have arrived a bit early as the cool weather softened the harshness of the rising sun. This was the fifth tournament I have entered since I got my brown belt in January of this year. Unfortunately, in two of the five, no other brown/black belts entered in my division (BJJ Tour Connecticut and The Good Fight New York Summer Classic). In the other three tournaments, the Big Apple Tournament, I placed second out of 3. In the ATT interschool tournament, I placed second out of two. At yesterday’s TCO tournament, I placed second out of two competitors, twice (as I did the gi and nogi.)

Since getting my brown belt in January, I have faced 4 different brown belt opponents and they have all been school owners. I find this quite a phenomena. I’m batting one for four, losing to a Kioto guy, a Daniel Gracie guy, and an ATT school affiliate. I love competing and, obviously, I love to win more than to lose. I enjoy the atmosphere and incredible focus being on the mat gives me. I’m wondering, though, if at this level, at this age, are these the types of competitors I’m going to be facing? Is it going to be like this from here on out: school owners with more invested in the win or loss than I have, and more time to train?

Simply put, I lost badly yesterday. I faced one opponent three times, Franky Passos, school owner and head instructor of Crossfit Prototype MMA / Daniel Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Westborough, Massachusetts. He is a completely nice person, humble, and showed great sportsmanship: the type of opponent I’m glad to lose to. Perhaps if I faced more than one person, I would not have walked away feeling as humbled, maybe as ashamed, as I did. Actually, I did feel a bit ashamed about my performance. To add injury to insult, I tweaked my arm (just a little bit, not much) in delaying a tap from an arm-bar on our third match. I really didn’t want to tap, really tried not to tap, but then the image of my elbow facing the wrong way flashed across my mind, and I gave up the ghost.

Oh, and I just loved the feeling of walking off the mat when no one looks at you in the eye. (I understand it all so no hard feelings.) What’s hilarious is that it’s all filmed, and lasted sixteen seconds. I thought to myself, damn, I was just Ronda Rousey’d. I loved that it was a loop choke immediately applied after going to the ground on a guard pull. I had no fucking shot. Not the first time, not the second time, and not the third time. But each time, I got on the mat and competed and survived a little longer.

So what does being second place out of two people mean?

I have no idea. But I’ve learned five things.

  1. At the brown rank at this age, it seems people who compete have more than a hobby’s stake; some have a business loan they need to pay off, and a resumé they need lines added to. Therefore, from here on out, I will enter a tournament and pawn my XBox One and tell the pawnbroker that he gets to keep it if I lose. That way, I get to feel the pressure the other brown belt is feeling.
  2. I feel proud for getting on there and having the courage to compete. But this sounds lame when you say it aloud to other people. So I’ll just keep this to myself from here on out.
  3. I need to drop a weight class. I gained about 15 pounds after my sons were born. I figure dropping one of them off at a fire station will do the trick.
  4. I have a feeling that if I continue competing, I’ll be able to one day arrive at the meaning of losing. But then I’ll have an aneurysm and will be as famous as the guy who discovered the meaning of life but had a stroke right afterward.
  5. I need to work on my positive self-talk and positive self-visualization. Starting now. Now. […]

2 responses to “Second Place Out of Two

  1. Thanks for sharing! Totally a good read. Like you said, people have their ‘drivers’ or motivation as to why they compete. Even if you are competing against other, more experienced opponents with a lot to ride on their matches, I think it’s a great measuring stick to compete and see how you progress against other belt holders. I remember losing my first match at a local NAGA against a blue belt with multiple stripes and a few pounds on me. I won gold as a white belt the previous competition so I had to ‘move up’ in class. I lost by points, but I was dominated. I felt a few of the same feelings you shared, but like you said, stay positive, drop a weight class lol and try again. Idk about the pawn shop ps3 or xbox. I don’t need the motivation/pressure THAT bad, but I know what you mean. Paying the Entry fees are enough motivation for me,

    Thanks again and see you on the mats!

  2. Funny how you object to me pawning my XBOX for motivation but there’s no mention of my weight reduction plan at all (i.e. the kids). Hahaha. Thanks for the comment.

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