The Asian Jiu Jitsu Championships as the name implies is the IBJJF’s biggest tournament in Asia. It carries a three star tournament ranking and whilst not as big as the Pan Americas or the Europeans its still one of the bigger continental championships offered by the IBJJF. It took place a couple a weeks ago in Tokyo coincidently the day after I landed there! So with the stars aligning it made sense to compete in Asia for the first time….
As with most IBJJF competitions the venue wasn’t in central Tokyo but in fact to the North of the City in Adachi (a bit like London having the centre but Crystal Palace is a borough at the edge of the city) at the Tokyo Budokan. That said getting there isn’t that difficult as it is nearby Ayase Station so the Tokyo subway is a cheap and effective way to get there.
The word budokan means “martial arts hall,” and the venue has a range of dojos and a tea ceremony room! On arriving in the venue you remove your shoes as the whole venue is a shoe free zone (except for the toilets where there are flip-flops to put on). I personally really liked it. I found it comfortable, easy to warm up and loved that there was no faffing with shoes when exhausted post match. In addition to the main hall with 8 competition mats there was also a second dojo for warm up if you needed it. There was also a small cafe, free water fountain and numerous vending machines to keep you stocked up. Overall due to it layout and cleanliness (including always having loo roll!) it was one of my favourite comp venues so far! Also for those that are curious announcements were made in Japanese and English with many of the staff speaking English which combined with the a live updated mat order made it pretty easy to stay informed.
I had a unique problem with these championship, on check day I had no possible matches within the Masters 2 division. Regardless of ranking points I wasn’t going to claim a default gold medal so I looked for my nearest opponent in masters 1. This meant moving to the heavyweight division to get a match (straight final) and the bonus outcome of finishing my diet early! Now despite post flight bloating and eating large amounts of food when I stepped on the scales in Tokyo I was still a middle weight (even if only just). My opponent weighed in spot on meaning she was around 9kg (19.8lbs) in weight heavier than me. Luckily for me the difference was due to my opponents height rather than a sumo esq width! Although I did chuckle as I walked out and ring coordinator had to double check and ask my real weight.
My fight went almost as planned. I got my grips early on but she didn’t feel right for the take down so I took a guard pull and a quick sweep before working my passing game. I’ll be honest the match felt incredibly long and I was so please to hear the last 30s being shouted by my hubby! Unfortunately I couldn’t expose her back or get a submission as I would have liked but I was thrilled to take a 8-0 points win.
The absolute was a few hours later and I had started to feel the jet lag kick in a little but gave it what was left in my gas tank. I lost in the quarter finals in a really tough fight against a very technical rubber ball! We were back and forth for the first 2/3rds of the match with it being 2-2. But I just couldn’t keep up the pace or take control and slow her down. I got sloppy in my game, conceding a sweep and pass costing me the match in the last minute. She went on to win the absolute and I am proud to have been the only person to score on her but I’m not going to lie in that I was disappointed not to collect an absolute medal but sometimes the luck of the draw just isn’t on your side! A different draw could have been a different result but we’ll never know!
With the competition was over it was a short subway ride back to Ueno and a well deserved meal of steak, rice, kimichi and beer. Which was obviously followed by cake! But we couldn’t celebrate too much as I was exhausted and my Old Munki hubby was fighting on Sunday. I won’t go into Sunday too much as it’s not my story to tell but it was a busy day at the comp for me as not only was hubby fighting but also several friends.
The Asian Open is held in a great city and at a really good venue and as with high level IBJJF competitions is well run with a good standard of competitors. The event also had a good vibe about it with various BJJ brands (Kekoa Collective, RVDDW, Isami and Bull Terrier plus others having stalls), Japanese TV randomly filiming as well as grappling stars such as Clark Gracie and Sakuraba in attendance. Its definitely one I’d recommend to people if they ever get the chance to enter. It’s also certainly one I would love to do again even if it may take a little bit of patience and plotting to return!
Photo Credit – IBJJF