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Kyushu Open – Recap with Photos!

June 23, 2008

The day starts off at 6:00 in the morning. My alarm goes off and I get up pretty easily. I had a horrible night of sleep with dreams of my teeth falling out, which is never a good sign. (Incidentally, dreams involving the loss of teeth mean a loss of power. And I don’t have to mention that your own teeth falling out is pretty disturbing)

I make three slices of yummy French toast that I hope to eat after weighing in, pack three bananas, water, protein shake, two Japanese sports drinks, and lunch – spaghetti with tomato sauce and eggplant, and leftover pizza from last night’s dinner. Shower, brush teeth, grab my gear and carry everything to my trusty 1997 white Mitsubishi Lancer with 15 inch dull chrome rims and really damn expensive tires. At 7:00 I’m out the door.

I pick up Yoko at 7:20 and she kindly takes over driving from her place. An hour and ten minutes later we pull up at our destination – Kasuya Dome. We stretch our legs and enjoy a stroll around the dome. There’s a pond right next to it, the sky was overcast, probably robbing some of the pseudo awe it should have inspired.

That’s a dome alright

Awe or aww?

Translation: acid filled pond – swim at own risk

When we complete our walkabout there’s a line at the entrance of the building. 9:00 signals the opening of the doors. I mistake the large group for participants of the Kyushu Open, but as it turns out not everyone there had submission dreams as one side of Kasuya Dome held basketball games.

I have to admit, walking into the area where the tournament would take place I wasn’t impressed. The Kyushu Open was pretty small as there was only one mat open for the matches. The last tournament I went to, and only had the pleasure of watching, there were two mats available. The only difference is that the Kyushu Open offered no-gi matches and – of course – I was a participant.

Yoko and I settled into a corner of the room only to move and join the Teppo Ebi group, my BJJ club, when they came in. Eventually the schedule was posted and I found out I was fighting in the third match.

At 9:30 the tournament sort of got on its way. They went over the format of the tournament, check in process, opened the floor to any questions, went over the rules, checked gi length and no-gi “costume” which I was the only one who found it amusing – never knew there was a “costume” for no-gi. Joke’s on me, cause I as I chuckled at that I got a playful warning – a shift elbow nudge – from one of my club members. Gomen.

There was an announcement made that we’d be starting at 10:00 because we were waiting for a large number of competitors to show up from Kumamoto so I thought cool I’d have time to warm up more, get some breakfast and water in my system but as it turned out they decided to get things going and ten minutes later the first match of the day starts.

The tournament ran as I expected. I warm up, compete, then time stretches out and compresses all at the same time. It’s a long day that goes by quickly. I watch the other matches, chat with friends and teammates, try to wipe the echoing snap of an arm from my memory, marvel at the strange warm-ups of other competitors, mark the bored look in the eyes of the girlfriends/wives who’ve accompanied their better halves, snack on delightful chocolate cookies. Those sort of things.

Throughout the rest of the tournament the other Teppo Ebi club members did fairly well, claiming a couple bronze, a silver and two gold metals. Congrats to Shimosako san, Hiromatsu kun and another gun-shimper whose name escapes me now.

Shimosako san working out of guard

Hiromatsu going for the submission

The overall the matches weren’t as exciting as the other past tournaments I’ve seen. I take that back, the white belt absolute was pretty good. Other than that, kinda blah. For example, there was a forth degree blue who took silver in his division by besting Shimosako san (who’s the big fish in our Teppo Ebi pond), but other than that, the other times I saw him on the mat he wasn’t cleaning house. I mean, winning a tournament isn’t all that important – sure its a great way to mark the points of growth in your game, but not that necessary. However isn’t a forth degree blue belt a step away from purple? I can’t even conceive of myself having four stripes on my belt, let alone being a purple belt. And a purple belt or someone significantly close to purple poses a threat to anyone of lesser skill, right? Then again, that forth degree blue, never got submitted and only lost on points.

Shimosako san is on the bottom. It was his fourth fight of the day, the first for the 4th degree blue

The medals were awarded around 2:00 in the afternoon and the tournament wrapped up shortly after. Surprisingly there was an open mat session as everyone started to leave. I don’t know where those guys got the energy to start training right after a competition but Japanese athletes are notorious for overtraining. I don’t see how jiu-jitsu practitioners could be any different.

It was great to see everyone I’ve trained with in a different environment and a different setting. I think anytime outside of the academy/gym/school strengthens the bonds that are forged during training, especially during a tournament. Here’s someone I roll with, and I’m cheering and coaching and showing my support by yelling from the sidelines. And I really want them to succeed – I share their win, their loss is my loss. I feel that way.

I also got to see Matt and his wife again. Always a joy and I’m definitely going to clock in some training time/hang out/do psychic interviews with famous MMA fighters up in his neck of Japan one day.

Yoko and I take a pause over at a mall nearby before officially driving home. I go crazy buying chips and hot sauce and salsa dip because I otherwise have no access to that kind of food in my lovable back water town. It takes two hours, due to traffic, before I drop Yoko home and another 20 minutes before I walk through my apartment doors. I do treat myself to a little Karaoke and yakitori (shish kebabs) instead of yakiniku (barbeque). By ten I shower and relax, uploading photos of the day into my computer and begin typing out my post, which you’re reading now.

All in all it was a good day. It could have gone a little smoother, but live and learn. And, of course, I’m looking forward to the next tournament.

Oh, I won my match if you were wondering. 😀

Can you spot me?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 8:12 pm

    Great write up, bro.
    It was a surprisingly small turnout hey, but still, some quite good matches. Not as big or dramatic as the last one we went to but enjoyable nevertheless, and a few good fights.
    That purple-belt blue sandbagger took out our ace, too… I don’t know if you remember but at the last tournament we watched (and the one I watched before that) he seemed to be constantly on the mats fighting, and winning. I heard from my teammate that he turned down his purple belt promotion because their weren’t enough purple belt people to fight in Kyushu.
    Kind of twisted logic, but it really isn’t fair on the other blues if you should be in the category above.
    Anyway good work and I hope we can have a roll at the next one.
    Anytime you want to come up feel free. We can go down to Paraestra and train.

  2. June 23, 2008 9:45 pm


  3. June 24, 2008 2:17 pm

    thanks guys 🙂

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