As always the format would be 4 workshops with time for extra drilling, rolling, catching up with old friends in between but this time we added the Absolute White Belt Death Match Tournament which pitted 8 fighters from 8 different clubs against each other to give some guys a little extra of the tournament experience.
The tournament was absolute, so no weight categories and to their eternal credit Josh Heston from NGT and Stephen Hant from CB both wanted to fight despite being only 60kg and 61kg respectively. I decided to just let them fight each other and not join the tournament because of the big weight difference, great warrior attitude though.
Helen Currie got the ball rolling with her 3 part warm up; On The Minute Every Minute for the general warm up, joint rotations and movement then onto the sport specific drills that she swears by that have given her the kind of body control and movement that I can only dream about.
With everyone warmed and loosened the first competitive matches started.
First up were Stephan Hant and Josh Heston with Stephen taking the win by Ezekiel choke but as was agreed beforehand the winner would grant the other a rematch so these 2 would meet each other again later.
As the 8 man tournament started Rich Cadden got off to a winning start to meet Brandon Guest in the first semi.
The second semi was decided as Josh Moorby and Big Mo progressed too.
The scene was then set for workshop #2 in the capable hands of purple belt instructor Lloyd Cooper who taught leg drags. I was very impressed how everything was really broken down, the techniques were great but the attention to pressure and weight distribution was excellent and as we know, makes all the difference.
The repechage finalists were decided as Krysztof Kaminski and Marc Crowther both scored victories in their respective semis to progress to the finals.
The tournament finalists were decided as Rich Cadden progressed to meet Josh Moorby in the absolute finals, this becoming very interesting as Rich, being the lightest entrant in the tournament made the final.
Workshop #3 then got under as purple belt instructor Roberto Barbiero taught his proven system for defeating the half guard specifically dealing with the pesky knee shield situation. Again this was broken down to such a degree that every specific piece of the puzzle was covered allowing for the destruction of said shield.
I was really interested in what Roberto was going to teach as I play this position so need to know what guys are going to start doing to me so I can get some counters ready for them :0)
Again the importance of pressure and posture whilst passing was really emphasised. There seems to be a pattern emerging here from the higher grades!!
The final matches from the tournament were now to be decided, Krysztof proved a little too much for Marc who fought valiantly but had to settle for 2nd as Krysztof took the match in fine fashion.
Then the anticipated rematch of the ridiculously light guys took place. This time it was Josh’s turn to administer the Ezekiel choke for the finish, ending 1 match each and a rubber match in the pipeline somewhere down the line.
I was really impressed with Stephen as he said to me that the first match he won quite quickly so wanted to try something different this time even if it meant him losing. A lot of guys want to win at all costs so was refreshing hearing him say he wanted to test something else instead.
The tournament final was a great match with Josh showing his excellent jiu jitsu from top and Rich working from bottom against the bigger guy. Josh went on to take the match but both guys did themselves proud.
The final workshop was a master class in detail as brown belt instructor James Nardone broke down the entry, taking the back and the finish whilst there. James gave everyone a disclaimer before he started saying there wasn’t much movement involved in his section and by the looks of the level of control he had over his demo partner he was right. An excellent way to control and finish.
What impressed me most about all the technical sections was the attention to detail, before we moved on to a following technique the instructor made sure to address and correct any mistakes that had been made on the previous technique right down to the smallest detail, this allowed everyone to have a solid base before moving on. No flashy showing off techniques just good solid jiu jitsu that anyone at any level could use.
Following the obligatory photos courtesy of Mr Fisher, we moved on to the final bit, there were a few promotions that needed to be made, one especially giving me great pleasure and made me emotional yet again.
Danny Mitchell started off the awards by calling up his AVT team member Josh Moorby who has a solid jiu jitsu game, demonstrated by his faultless performance in the tournament. Josh has put in a lot of time to his gi game with Danny and it really shows. Danny presented the blue belt on the behalf of Combat Base.
Danny then called up another one of his students, Rich Cadden, for his blue belt. For those of you that maybe don’t know Rich is a real Muay Thai champion winning the world title twice in Thailand amongst other accolades. Rich had set the bar high for himself but has medalled at all the tournaments he has fought in so the time had come for the blue to be awarded and for the bar to be raised a little higher.
Next, NGT head coach, James Nardone had the pleasure to promote Tony Riley to purple belt. Tony’s game has sky rocketed of late and is a solid competitor as well as being a great coach and much respected NGT team member. We wondered if James would get through the ceremony without getting too emotional which he (just about) did.
Final promotion was very special to me as we were tasked with presenting Danny Mitchell with his black belt on behalf of Combat Base UK and Chris Haueter. There is so much I could say about Danny but don’t want it written down in case it is ever used in evidence but what I will say is that this guy can do everything, he is the consummate professional, will fight anyone at anything and is as humble as ever. His fighting skill is also matched by his coaching skills and has coached guys that have won titles in BJJ, no gi, MMA and more as well as winning all these things himself too. Excellent competitor, fighter and coach.
His popularity is reinforced by the fact that Twitter and Facebook lit up with messages of congratulations.
I wasn’t as brave as James and admit to having tears in my eyes all through the promotion. Helen tied the belt around his waist and made it official.
I am extremely proud of what we have here, we had 70+ guys turn up to train, all contributed to charity and had fun whilst helping support people not as fortunate, raising about £700 for children’s cancer charity in Rotherham.
I am so proud of all you guys, we have something special here.
Finally shout out goes to Cat who is still the best brownie maker in the UK, you’re a lucky man James, no wonder you are marrying her :0)
Thanks for the support everyone, it means the world to me.