The days leading up to the tournament were no fun at all. After hurting my knee a few weeks before we left for Lisbon (MCL sprain) I knew it was going to be a hard weight cut. I wasn’t able to really train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that much up until the last week and my diet was not getting the weight off. I trained hard for that last week but was only able to lose a few pounds. It was looking like I was going to have to cut water weight.
After I got off work on Tuesday I went straight to the school got my sauna suit on and started cutting. I trained for about an hour and lost a few pounds of water, hopped in the shower and went straight to the airport. Anyone who has cut weight before knows that cutting weight is absolutely miserable. What was going to make this even worse is that I would not reach Lisbon until Wednesday night and I fight on Thursday morning. Stuck on a plane with no way of working out I would now have to limit what I take in.
When we arrived in Lisbon the scale at the hotel had me about 8 pounds over. I was pretty certain that I was only 6 over but I could’t take that chance. I was not going to be the first person from Crazy 88 not to make weight at an IBJJF tournament. It was going to be a very long night. To make matters worse I realized that I left my suit at the school before getting on the plain. Fortunately Tom had his and he didn’t need it. The Hotel did not have a sauna so fellow team mate Matt (who also had to cut a little weight) and I hit the gym for a few hours of none stop training. We mostly ran on the treadmill and road the exercise bikes till we were on weight. By this point my legs felt like jello so it was off to bed to rest up for the tournament.
I got up early the next morning and checked my weight. I was exactly on weight. When I got to the tournament I immediately checked my weight and found that I was actually 1 kilo under (2.2 lbs). I knew that scale was wrong but no time to worry about that now. I hurried up and got some food and water and was immediately called to fight.
Surprisingly minus my legs being a little sore I felt really good and was ready. Maybe I was just excited to be back and didn’t notice but I was ready for war.
Travel and competing in jiu-jitsu tournaments is tough. The further you travel the tougher it can be. If you are cutting weight or taking a long flight it can be very exhausting. It is also hard to get used to the time difference. Luckily this was my second time to the European Open so I knew what to expect. It was still hard to get used to the time difference but I was a little more prepared for it.
Portugal is ok. Lisbon is a very old city. We stayed at the same hotel as last year and the tournament venue was the same so those of us that had been there before knew our way around. It was nice because we didn’t have to worry about where we were going, where to eat, what to do after the tournament. It was much more relaxing.
On the first day of the tournament our team started out a little slow. I went 3 and 1, going out in the quarter finals. Timmy was the first to get on the board with a gold in his division and taking silver in the open.
On the second day things got much better. Jon took 3rd at his weight and a lot of the guys from Camp Springs medaled.
That night we decided to take everyone who had not been there before out to see the Lisbon night life. The night life in Lisbon is crazy. The bar district is like a giant block party. It stretches several blocks and the streets are packed.
Saturday was a lot of fun at the tournament. Roberto took 3rd place in his brown belt division. Team Lloyd Irvin took 1st and 3rd in the purple belt open. Then later that day we found out that you can enter into a tournament of nations. You can enter a team at each belt. Up until this year there had never been a team entered for USA. Big Al looking for some extra fights was very adamant about entering a team. He talked to Master Lloyd and he allowed Al to organized a blue belt team and a purple belt team. At first I didn’t know what to think but the day was about to get real crazy.
You could enter both a light weight team and a heavy weight team for each belt. We didn’t have enough guys under the cut off to field a light weight team so we put in Al, Timmy, Matt, and Tom along with an american from another school. With out even having our full squad and after a crazy night on the town we defeated several teams and took silver (with only the guys from our school winning matches). It was awesome to watch. Everyone was pumped up and yelling. If they didn’t like americans before they definitely don’t like us now.
On the final day we saw a lot of good Jiu-Jitsu matches. Our US purple belt team had an almost identical performance as the blue belts. We only put in a heaver weight squad and four of the five guys on the team were team Lloyd Irvin. They also took silver with only our guys winning matches.
By the time we left Lisbon I was absolutely exhausted and ready to go. We didn’t sleep much and due to the time difference and spending all day at the tournament.