Recent happenings in the worlds of sambo, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, submission grappling and/or collegiate/freestyle wrestling. If it takes place on the ground and it's interesting, it should be here.
By now the newness of 2012 may have worn off. Vows made to improve physical fitness or to stop lusting after worldly goods could be in danger. Fight the temptation! Do not let winter colds drag you down or veg forever on that couch - except if you are reading this column. Hopefully the holiday seasons were good to you and yours and this dose of grappling news revives your warrior spirit.
Ottavia Bourdain, the lovely wife of Chef Tony and fierce fighter in her own right, kicks us off into 2012 the right way with her Festivus Feat of Strength.
Ottavia has a Twitter account which shows her ardent dedication to combat sports on top of her own busy life and the demands of keeping Chef Tony in fine company. I am stunned enough to completely blank on a No Reservations or Layover pun. All due respect to the Bourdains' union of coolness and expertise.
After the jump, delicious video highlights of the 49th Annual Midlands Championships along with an insider's perspective on the tourney, then we go globe-trotting with wrestlers and Brazilian judoka, start digging into the technique-explaining bon bons of the grappling world and there are some delectable brain food Odds & Ends links for your consumption.
If you have any links of your own, questions or comments, leave them below or get word to me at DefGrappler on Twitter. Please let me know if I missed anything major and I will fix this, that and the other thing.
I am telling you ahead of time that this is going to be a T.R. Foley-heavy section. If you do not like to read the stories of a 2004 wrestling All-American and his friends who have traveled to places like Mongolia, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam to go wrestle people in their native styles of grappling, then you are advised to skip down to the NCAA event results or to the Judo news.
The night before stepping on the scales at the 49th annual Midlands wrestling tournament, I went to a low-key dinner at a Mexican-fusion restaurant down the street from my Chicago apartment.
My best friend and former teammate was visiting from out of town, and a dinner with mutual friends seemed appropriate for his arrival. I'm not a monk, and as promised in an earlier article, I drank a few glasses of red wine. My meal was equally indulgent, as I took down healthy portions of chips, salsa, and a lime-cooked ceviche appetizer. Glasses were clinked; jokes were told.
The next morning I arrived at Welsh-Ryan Arena fifteen minutes before weigh-ins. In the back room of the complex I was reminded of the less-playful realities inside a collegiate weigh-in: gaunt-faces, sallow skin and the constant thwacking of jump ropes. Some of the Northwestern wrestlers I've come to know over the years paced by me, most shirtless and shoeless, each holding their phone manically checking the time and texting loved ones their current condition. Their faces looked soured, lips purple.
I was wearing jeans, some boots, and a sensible winter sweater.
Foley went 1 and 2, with the first loss being against Braden Atwood of Purdue University (who would lose to top ranked Robert Hamlin of Lehigh in the semi-finals). I do not agree with Foley's closing thoughts about collegiate wrestling being the sport that demands the most physically from its athletes out there. I lean more towards freestyle wrestling or judo, but his writing is phenomenal and provides a window into what a wrestling tournament looks like from a more worldly perspective.
Now for the other part of the T.R. Foley writing endeavors I like so much. He started a website called Wrestling Roots, which is basically designed to collect the experiences of people in traditional combat sports around the globe. The latest entry, written by Mark L., is an absolutely brilliant photoessay of a folkstyle wrestler in Ethiopia learning about and then entering a Tigel tournament off the cuff. Tigel is the local form of grappling, which is at times like Greco-Roman and more like Mongolian wrestling at others. It may also be the source of that greeting between people where you shake hands and then go in for the shoulder bump - or so Mark says. Please read that article. It has pretty pictures like this:
The archives of Wrestling Roots are absolutely worth spending a few hours browsing through. I particularly like the Mongolian stories and the brief summary of kushti, the Indian dirt wrestling. The latter is noteworthy because it provides the link to kushtiwrestling.blogspot.com, which is the most comprehensive collection of videos, articles and pictures of indigenous wrestling that I have ever seen (note that translations into English may not always be available).
Gary Abbot over at The Mat has a rundown of the Top 10 wrestling stories of 2011. Jordan Burroughs, Cael Sanderson, the Times Square duals with Russia and more are all there. A surprising amount of these stories appeared here on Bloody Elbow - which proves that we are paying attention to the right stuff and will hopefully continue to do so in 2012.
In one of the most hotly anticipated duals of the season, Oklahoma State, ranked #2 at the time, narrowly beat out #1 ranked Iowa in a tie-break over total points scored - which made for a final score of 17-16. InterMat has the rundown and Flowrestling has the video highlights.
In sadder news, Jake Deitchler, a 22 year old former Olympian and University of Minnesota wrestler, was forced to end his wrestling career early due to multiple concussions. Deitchler had enormous talent, as he was the first high schooler to make the U.S. Olympic team since 1976, but the concussions caused him to sit out and attempt a comeback. Unfortunately, the problems persisted and he called it quits. Most fans may not care, but CTE is a supremely scary thing that all combat sports - not just boxing - must confront in the coming years. On the positive side, Deitchler retains his scholarship and will finish his degree and remain with the Golden Gophers team in some capacity.
The first 2012 big event of the international scene will be the World Masters tournament in Almaty, Kazakhastan on the 14th and 15th. The World Masters will kick off the competitive build-up to the Olympics in London later this year. Of course, the athletes with their eye on Olympic gold have already been training for most of the last decadeand are probably wishing July would hurry up and get here.
Everybody and their mother - if she paid attention to grappling news - saw the video of Demian Maia training with a Brazilian judoka named Tiago Camilo. It got linked to all up and down the Interwebs, but usually without much context. To put it briefly, Camilo is a judo monster. Right now, he is the #4 ranked judoka in the world at 90 kg (roughly 198 lbs) and a beastly ippon machine.
How Maia's training with Camilo helps or hinders the upcoming fight with Michael Bisping remains to be seen, but Camilo knows his way around the mats very well. Props should be given to Demian Maia for working with him. If you have access to the MGinAction video library, you can pull up the video of Jimmy Pedro, an American judo world champion, rolling with Marcelo Garcia and doing quite well at times. If I had to guesstimate, I would say Camilo is a bit better than Pedro and Maia a bit worse than Marcelo, but we all win when these guys share video of their training sessions.
Christian Graugart, the best BJJ blogger anywhere, is in the midst of writing a book about his trip around the world, spent teaching and learning grappling, as well as taking tons of amazing photos and videos. He did a recap of his year, which simultaneously reignites the competitive fire in me and firms up my belief that the combat sports community worldwide is perhaps the best anywhere.
On what is fast becoming one of my favorite BJJ blogs, The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory brings you a breakdown of the smash pass - or whatever you or your instructors call the battle to push the opponent's knees together on one side and pass guard. Also, lookit the banner image:
If that call back to the old days of video games (featuring Rafael Lovato Jr.) doesn't draw you in, I shake my head sadly.
DSTRYSG had a great post about a counter to the berimbolo - a flashy back-taking technique often used on the big stages of Brazilian jiu jitsu tourneys - from Davin Maxwell. This counter is probably going to be used against that purple belt who has seen the latest tourney highlight videos and is now trying new moves out on your unsuspecting keister.
NAGA was quiet, but Grapplers Quest is running their Florida State Championships this weekend. If you are in the Coral Springs area, consider turning out to watch, learn and interact with your fellow Floridians and submission grapplers of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Odds and Ends:
I missed this Black Belt magazine article with Chael Sonnen when it appeared back in October. Sonnen is the master of the Sweet'n'Sour talk and has polarized MMA for the past year and more. However, this interview is all sweet and really has Chael at his most earnest - which displays his genuine knowledge and love for combat sports.
Combine this super-smart post by Mike Shatzkin about the future of publishing books vs. e-books with Clay Shirky's genius-level thoughts on newspapers and paywalls. Add in combat sports. What do you get? I keep ending up at "Judo Chops" and some vague stuff about communities while seeing a desperate struggle to get and hold the attention of small chunks of the faceless masses.