By Jim Glynn
It’s February second, my 49th birthday, Groundhog’s Day, and instead of being home with my wife and 8 year old son enjoying my special day I find myself on top of a really, really strong opponent who is really upset I just took him down. A wave of emotion and slight confusion washes over me. I am experiencing what’s called the “adrenaline dump.” No amount of pre-bout warmup can prepare you for the level of intensity your body is suddenly confronted with when a total stranger you just shook hands with has now turned into an opponent that wants to use all his strength and skill to take you down and either lock up a joint or sink a choke hold until you tap out in submission!
I am here competing at the NAGA tournament and this is my first no-gi match in the Intermediate division. Months of specialized competition classes, hundreds of mat hours working with my NJMA teammates to perfect my “A” game all under the watchful eye and careful detailed instruction of Professor Marco Perazzo. One of the reasons I joined NJMA was the fact that if you want to compete and really test yourself and your skill compared to your peers, Professor Marco and the rest of the team will make sure that when you step on the mat and shake hands to fight, you are ready to take on the challenge. All of this and much more is flying through my brain as I look down at the guy I just took down.
Of course while I am achieving my moment of clarity my opponent has a game plan of his own and he gets out from underneath me and turns the tables! Now I am mounted and defending a head and arm choke. I realize its not that tight and I can fight out of it. I get into my zone but unfortunately its too late and time runs out before I can mount any offense. I lose my first match. Fortunately I have another match to determine third place and the gi division to look forward to. I am totally warmed up now, adrenaline gone and its time to have fun and do what I came here to do. We trained really hard for this tournament and with Marco in my corner my next two matches are happily in my favor and both end in submissions. One of the NJMA guys told me years ago that all you have to do is do exactly what Marco tells you to do during the match and you will most likely win. I am happy to emphatically say that that is a true statement.
Competing is not for everybody. The preparation is tough, cutting weight is no fun, and injuries sometimes happen. Nobody shows up on tournament day to lose so every match is against an adversary that that feels he can and should win and you are standing in the way of his spot on the podium!. On the plus side though, training with a specific goal in mind and having a team that really acts like a team helping each other get ready to do battle on the mats is amazing. An individual can only be as good as his/her teammates and NJMA will push you harder than you have ever gone before.
NJMA did very well at the NAGA on Saturday. We won most of our matches and learned from our losses what we need to work on and improve for the future. I know that I give up dominant position too easily and need to stay tighter when on top. These are all things to take back to the mats and drill, drill, drill. The feeling of camaraderie and shared achievement we all shared at the end of the day made it a great 49th birthday. The bar is set pretty high for my 50th next year!