My First International Tournament

London-IO-2014-Banner-Small-960x1601Conor Murphy is a 20 year old computer science student from Dublin. He is a White Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, has been training just about one year and is a self confessed Jiu Jitsu Nerd. Below he chronicles his experience and impressions of his first IBJJF international competition.

“Last July, my coaches, Roger Dardis and Paul Fox, asked our academy if anyone wanted to compete in the London International Open in October. At the time, I was training a lot, but was wary of competing at such a high level as I had only been training about 9 months. In the end I decided to compete. So, last weekend, my two coaches, two of my training partners and I all travelled to compete in the Open at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. 

DSC_0044To say I was nervous is a massive understatement! I went through the typical pre-competition phases: Excitement, Nerves, and finally Determination. I had doubts about how well I’d do, and even walking to the arena on the Saturday (I wasn’t competing until Sunday), my stomach was doing somersaults and my heart was going a hundred miles an hour. Funnily enough, this all disappeared when I got a look at the arena.

DSC_0047There was probably a couple hundred people milling about, with 8 matches going on at once. There were vendors trying to sell you their wares and plenty of food to keep you going. Seeing all the positivity around the place and feeling the excited buzz of competition definitely helped me calm down. On the Saturday, all of the coloured belts had their gi matches, with both my coaches and one of my team mates doing very well in their divisions! After the last of them finished their final match, my nerves came flooding back. I realised I was next to compete. Thousands of scenarios played out in my head as we went out for food that evening. I had visions of me losing horribly and winning triumphantly. In the end, I decided that I was going to go out there, play my game and simply want it more than the other guy.

DSC_0055 Sunday rolls around and I get my gear ready for competition. My coaches and one of my training partners had nogi competitions that day, while another and I had our gi matches. We got to the arena early enough (we wanted to get a good warm up in) and I checked my weight. I was 6 lbs under the limit. Perfect. At roughly two o’clock, my division gets called to the bull pen (warm up area). For those that don’t know, you have to have photo I.D. with you and “sign-in” with one of the ring co-ordinators in the bull pen. After this there is a lot of waiting around and ensuring that you don’t get stiff. Eventually, you and your opponent get called over. Before your first match, the co-ordinator will check your weight. There is zero tolerance for being overweight. Even 0.1 of a pound will get you disqualified. After this, another official check the length of your sleeves, trousers, belt and the thickness of your collar. Any fails on this front and you are told to change your gi or you get disqualified. Upon passing these pre-requisites, you follow your ring co-ordinator out to the mats, where you again provide I.D. and await the referee to call you onto the mats.

DSC_0129I had a tough first match against a good opponent. I managed to get a few sweeps, eventually ending up in mount and finishing him with a triangle. You really don’t know how fit you are until you compete at a high level in a real battle. I can roll for hours in the gym no problem, but after this four minute match I was exhausted! I was into the semi-finals and got a fifteen minute break before my next match.

DSC_0363Unfortunately, I lost my next match to the eventual winner of the division via bow and arrow choke. I had managed to secure myself a bronze medal, my first in BJJ! Even though I know it could have been gold, I was happy to have placed in the top four in my division.

DSC_0398All in all the experience was one I will never forget. I got to travel to London with great people and got to test my skills against some of the best in Britain and Ireland. This medal will be the first of many in my long journey of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu! Oss.”

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