Monday, January 20, 2014

Finnish championships 2013: a journey of twisted fingers and broken hopes (part 2)


A short story depicting the emotions before and after a competition.


It's time, I get called behind the mat. The next match will be mine. I loosen up my body one last time and empty my mind.

Then it hits me. I'm alone behind the mat. Where is my opponent? The announcer walks over and asks who's missing. He then proceeded to announce my opponent by name a few times, but to no avail. He was nowhere to be seen.

That face you make when you realize somethings fishy.


































I walk back to the warm-up area, a little disappointed. Then I spot my next opponent, I fought against him about a year ago as a blue belt. Back then I won a very close match with only one advantage point. We talk a little and he tells me that his opponent didn't show up either.

So here we are in the finals, both winning the first match with a walkover...

It's time to prepare. Again... I warm-up, stretch and relax. Sitting in the warm-up area and listening to some calming music. I drift into a meditative state of mind. Watching other people roll and new champions being born, seeing the pure happiness in people is starting to make me restless. I want to roll.

























I see my name on the screen, it shows I'm fighting on mat 3. I walk behind the mat and know, I'm ready.

Walking onto the mat with an empty mind... Actually not empty, but a clear mind, focused on one thing. As a custom and sign of respect, I walk to the corner of the mat and shake hands with a judge who is going to be suggesting scoring on the match, then to the opposite corner to shake hands with the second judge. Lastly there is the mat judge, we shake hands and then I see my opponent. I was so focused that it seems like he appeared out of thin air.


We do the customary clap and bump and back off a little bit. The match starts by both staying standing and fighting for grips.

After about a minute of furious and speedy grip fighting, I catch my opponent a bit off balance; not much, but just enough. So I start ramming forward and go for a non-technical butt-ugly  force takedown.

The butt-ugly force takedown

I get the takedown and land in leg drag, "perfect" is the only thing running in my head. We land outside the match area so we are stopped and asked to move to the middle. My opponent rolls over... Then I see it, my middle finger is shaped like a "Z". In a rush of panic, worry and confusion I raise my hand to the judge to show the finger (giggle).

The realisation

He shows me to the corner of the arena and I let out a shout of rage. At the medical spot there's a few guys sitting around a first aid bag. The assistants faces first show amazement, then shock and afterwards sympathy. The on-call doctor rushes to me in his worn-out gray gi, that used to be black. He checks my finger and then looks at me. "I have to pull your finger back in place" he said calmly. My first reaction was to pull my hand a bit away from him and the look of pain overcame my face. Less than a second after that I realized that there isn't any other option.

"F*CK"

I give my hand out and look away. I feel a pull and almost no pain. "Oh, that's it." I say in surprise. At this point every single friend of mine is shouting "Tape it and continue!" while stomping the ground. First when I walked to the doctor, I was sure that I wasn't able to continue. These shouts however changed my mind. All the noise, commotion and stomping made me feel a rush of adrenaline. I tell the doctor "Tape it". Less than a minute forward I'm walking back to the mat. I stomp the ground a few times before stepping on the mat.


I get back to the center of the mat and the judge signals 2 points for my takedown. The match restarts from standing. We clap hands again. The beginning is a race for grips and I only reach out with my right hand as I'm afraid of using my hurt finger. Less than a minute passes and my opponent pulls guard. I immediately put my base down, get posture and start to work on my passing. Thinking I passed his guard he pulls my leg and catches me in his deep half guard. I start pushing my hips forward and get my leg free. Then turn around to face him in north-south position and start putting pressure on him, but I'm a second too late and he spins on his belly and escapes to turtle guard. In the moment I try to jump on his supportive arm for an armbar; almost catching it, but almost is not enough. Now I'm upside down on my neck, I spin around and recover him in my de la riva guard. In the heat of the moment I forget about my finger and pull on his gi. Only to feel pain, sadness and utter disappointment. I shake these feelings off and try to keep him behind my guard while attempting to pull my finger back in place. After a few failed attempts, my opponent has advanced into my half guard and I'm fighting with just one hand, then I come to the conclusion that I can't keep him in control. 
I tap...

The day after.

Story will be continued in part 3, stay tuned!

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