2015 has started well for me, with 2 months and three major competitions already under my belt.
January saw my first visit to Lisbon in Portugal and the home of the IBJJF European Championships. By far the biggest competition I have ever taken part in with over 3000 competitors.
4 Weeks previously I had received my purple belt and stepped up to a different level of competition, a level that when I first set out on this journey, I never thought I would reach.
Given that the level of competition was so high, my goals were not to win the competition but just to go and win 1 fight. A goal I thought would be a big ask at such a high level competition.
However, I prepared myself just like I would any other fight (with the help of the supplements provided by Deluxe Nutrition of course), and on the morning of the fight I was more focused than I had ever been. I think the importance of the event had started to sink in.
After a buy through to round two I stepped onto the mats and was welcomed into the purple belt division by a very tough opponent. I spent most of the time on the bottom feeling the pressure of an obviously bigger and stronger opponent, but I worked hard for the sweep (and two points), came up on top, stabilised and went on to win my first fight.
It felt good but I had no time at all to enjoy it or indeed recover as I was already being called up for my next fight in the 3rd round.
This time I was fighting a fellow Englishman who I had not come across before. The fight started at a much faster pace than the last, but this time it was me that controlled the match throughout and when the referee called time at the end of the 7 mins it was my hand that again was raised.
I was now in the quarter finals and starting to believe that I could actually go on to become the European Champion at the first time of asking but it was not to be. I was taken out in my next match on points. I was unable to have my own way and my opponent played a very tactical game that saw him win the match 2-0. A great start to the year though and my confidence was very high for what was to come over the next month.
A visit to London and the Olympic Copper Box Arena saw me fight in the London Winter Open, another quarter final finish and also an opportunity to attend a referee course and expand my knowledge in the rules department.
London for me was a warm up though to the IBJJF Winter Munich Open.
My first trip to Munich began with snow falling all around whilst walking to the hotel, a very cold start to a great weekend and I definitely knew I was competing in a Winter Open!
Here I finished in the finals and a Silver Medal – the highest finish for me in an IBJJF tournament. My fights were finished with submissions all by foot lock (a submission I haven’t even attempted prior to this competition).
A very successful competition for me and my team mates, all taking home some silverware as well as the 1st Place team trophy.
As always its not always about winning though, for me it is about learning something about yourself, and so far this year I have learnt that you have to believe in your own ability and the decisions of your coaches.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the only way you will improve yourself. But most importantly for me, I have learnt that I will be a very strong competitor in the weight division below where I am now, so whilst I have time before my next competition, there is no time to rest. I need to cut some weight and start hunting down the lightweight division . .
Thanks as always to Deluxe Nutrition for being right behind me and helping me reach my goals, I could not be as prepared for competition as I am without you guys!