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Newaza World Tournament – March 2009

March 16, 2009

The Newaza World tournament was held this past weekend in Oita. It marked several important occasions.


It was the first tournament for four people I know – two from Teppo Ebi, two from Paraestra Hakata – one of them being my friend, Sam, “Whitesnake” of Grappling Dummies fame.

The other significant occasion was that the Newaza World tournament was the very first jiu-jitsu tournament I went to and watched here in Japan a little more than a year ago. Back then I lived in a totally different place, my work was a very different situation, and I trained completely differently than I do now. If my knee was at 100% I can safely say with confidence that I could run circles around my-last-year-self. But in reality, last-year-me could beat up right now me. Stiff knee, weak leg… sigh.

Let’s move onto to the recap shall we?

Originally we (Matt, Sam and I) had planned to enter the Newaza World tournament together, go sideways to Oita (the prefecture full of really great hot spring baths and is right nextdoor to Fukuoka where we live) the day before the competition, rent out a house, and relax the night before then head on over to mop up our respective divisions.

Plans rarely work out the way we want them to. As such, life got in the way. Double sigh.

I got injured.

Matt got a super kickass cold and then a chest infection three weeks before the tournament.

That left Sam to hold up our hopes for representing the foreigners representing our school.

So Sam, myself and our better halves (Nao and Yoko, respectively) made the hour journey to Yufuin, which was an hour away from Oita city where the tournament was held. Matt opted to stay home and rest up. Get better you!!

When we got to Yufuin this was what waited for us.

Actually, this is where we “checked in”

This is the oh so lovely onsen house we stayed at

The house was big enough to have a fairly large group of people stay over. It was an older type of Japanese house, its age gave it character. But by far the best thing about the house that it had an actual onsen! Yes!


The onsen, or hot spring bath, was a brillant idea. The day we got to Yufuin was a particularly cold winter-like day. Since Yufuin is up in the mountains there was actually snow on the ground.

Onsen are my favorite places to go to in Japan. And if you ever find yourself in Japan during the late fall, winter or early spring time, I highly recommend going to an onsen. I cannot stress it enough. Onsen are a must.

Doesn’t look like much, but it felt oh so good

We went shopping for the next day’s breakfast and lunch, got back to the house and ate a ridiculous amount of chicken nabe (hot pot) for dinner. Everyone except Sam. He was a kilo over his check in weight and was very nervous about making weight. Because of that I became Sam’s unofficial dietician for dinner and breakfast for the weekend.

After eating very little of the chicken nabe, Sam headed out with ipod in hand for a brief night run. It was then I felt the slight heartache of being left behind. I really wanted to join Sam for a run, and if there was bike I would have, but running is still out for me. Just walking at a normal pace is still beyond my grasp (my right leg doesn’t like going faster than I want it to).

The chicken was good and a’plenty

When Sam did get back, he did a workout which got the best of me so I decided to do one of my own. Did a few forward, back and side rolls (plus head and shoulder stands). I managed to pull off a 15 second bridge, which my right leg did not enjoy at all, and I wanted to do more but stopped myself from going overboard.

Anyway, after jumping into the onsen, spending a really long time in there and putting in an awkward night of rest (he kept waking up at various times at night and kept dreaming about jiu-jitsu), Sam easily made weight.

His night was tame compared to mine. I had a dream that everyone was being eaten by a large snake and I couldn’t get away from the snake because of my leg. Might have been due to my exhausted leg (we went walking around Yufuin, my leg gave up about ten minutes into the walk) and this…

Yup, what you think is really in there

Breakfast, another dip in the onsen and it was off to Oita city where the tournament lay waiting for us.


Everybody loves Matt
Almost everyone I bumped into asked about how I was doing. I was happy to show them the twig I call my right leg. Then the next question was, naturally, about Matt. I told them the news and everyone was genuinely disappointed that he couldn’t make it. From Ide-san to Paraestra Kitakyushu folk to the funky badass purple belt from Axis Fukuoka, they all wished him a speedy recovery.


Competition is a Totally Different Level
Kimura-san and Miyazaki-san were there at the tournament. They were the only ones from Teppo Ebi to show up and they competing. I was really proud of them to step up and make the effort to enter a tournament by themselves.

Unfortunately they approached their matches as if it was another sparring session at Teppo Ebi. They didn’t properly warm up and they definitely weren’t ready for the level intensity that comes with competitions.

It’s partly my fault. I should have been more harder on them when I saw them just sitting down and stretching. I should have shouted more advice at them during their matches. Now I plan on being harder on them in practice and include them in the drills I’m doing.

I’m Turning into a Jiu-jitsu Yoda
Not to say I’m a master at jiu-jitsu now, but I am tiny and I do have a limp when I walk. Plus I got big ears too. Anyway…

Every single match I watched I saw the potential for sweeps, passes and attacks. It erked me to no end. And for the rest of the day, whenever I looked out to the competition mat I felt the slight heartache of being left out over and over again.

Every single leg that based out, every off-balanced top position was a clear cut sweep for me. Every single spider guard tie up, every failed submission in the guard led to an undeniable pass that I saw openings for. Every stretched out arm or mount was an easy submission that I wanted to slap on.

Hopefully, I’ll learn from this and when I do see the opportunities (when I get back to training), I’ll capitalize on them immediately.


First Time’s a Charm
The only two white belts that entered from Hakapara were Saito-san and Sam. This tournament, like Kimura-san and Miyazaki-san, was their first.

Saito-san is a really solid white belt. Saito-san gives Sam a run for his money. Whenever I roll with Saito-san he seems to gas out really fast and only then can I get the advantage. His first run at a tournament turned out to be pretty good. He swept his division taking home gold. He showcased his good skill and even greater heart as he gased out for his final match. It was a pretty scary to watch. Everyone got real animated, myself included. But somehow, Saito-san dug deep and kept pushing the action, and eventually overwhelmed his opponent for the winning takedown, pass and side-control points to win the match.

Sam also did very well for his first time as well. Although he lost his second match in his weight division, he went into the absolute looking like a changed man. He didn’t perform like his previous matches. He actually looked better and seemed to have immediately learned from his mistakes in his second match. Sam won his third match (his first in the absolute) but lost his fourth match. He put in an incredible effort and I’m proud of him and of his results.

I believe Sam could have made it to the final of the absolutes, and probably swept it. Sam was up on points in his fourth match. His opponent gained 3 points more, and it became a case of not enough time to pull out a win as is most of the time.


Sam’s last match was very exciting, more so than Saito-san’s final.
That match made my girlfriend a fan of jiu-jitsu. Thank you, Sam.

Once a Dan-shoku, Always a Dan-shoku
At the end of the day the top schools that represented most of the wins were Newaza World Oita, Axis Fukuoka, Paraestra Kita-Kyushu and Hakata.

Tomari-sensei debuted his team shirts which were fabulously designed by Matt.

Dan-shoku’s the one with ALL the medals

The center of attention in our group photo was none other than the Baron, Dan-shoku. Why? He’s the unofficial mascot in our school. One part silly, one part Yamato Damashi, all crazy Japanese guy.

And the Best Way to End a Day of Jiu-jitsu
After a two hour drive home (お疲れ様、なお!) we let Sam, who spent the entire week before the tournament on a crash course diet, choose where we’d eat dinner and call it a day.

Natually it could be one thing and one thing only…


If this doesn’t give you the urge to get better, I don’t know what will

Here’s to all the winners of the Newaza World and here’s to looking forward to the next tournament!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2009 9:55 pm

    hehe… i believe that is Ippudo is it not! YUMMMM!!!
    Wicked write up dude. Exactly what I wanted to read. I experienced it vicariously through you which is the beauty of blogging is it not!
    New grappling dummies up…

  2. Tsune permalink
    March 17, 2009 6:22 am

    Hi Patrick!!!
    This is my first comment for your blog. I am “Saito-san”.
    Please call me Tsune, Tsune-san or Tsune-sama ’cause my first name is Tsunekazu. I read your and Matt’s blog pleasantly with a dictionary…My Einglish is very poor…

    Thank you for giving me your cheering!!! And I used your and everyone’s cheering to advantage in matches.

    Please cure your hurt and teach me your skill!!!

  3. March 17, 2009 3:43 pm

    Happy you could experienced it through my eyeballs it is not! Pictures to send you in future!


  4. March 19, 2009 5:26 pm

    Great post, sounds like it was the weekend that could have been if only your leg was ok. Really enjoy the pictures.

  5. March 19, 2009 9:46 pm

    Sounds like you had a good time. Alot of people under estimate the importance of a proper warm up in comps, especially at first. But then when you gas through your ass you normally learn :P. So probaly wont have to be to hard on them.

    How much longer till your legs sorted?

    I once met a guy who trained BJJ with only one leg…

  6. March 20, 2009 12:53 pm

    Thanks! I’d wondered what would have happened if Matt and I met cause we were both planning on entering the absolute. I would have bowed out 😉

    Probably til the end of the month or until I can kneel in guard. If not I’d tap out just because I can’t stay kneeling.

    One leg? That’s cool! I’d like to hear about that. Actually, there was a guy who competed with only one arm at this tourney. Major props to them.

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