The best and worst of human nature and sportsmanlike conduct
Here’s what happened to cause the melee at the tournament. I actually saw this happen, as opposed to the spitting incident, which I only heard about. So I’ll write about what I saw. I won’t mention the name of the guy who started the chaos because people who grapple will find out another way and people who don’t probably won’t care. The guy was a black belt who was coaching one of his students. The match got intense kind of quickly, as can happen when things stay on the feet; takedowns go fast, they go all over the mat, and they cause scrambles as opponents jockey for position. It was a no gi match, and the pace of those is also usually quicker than the pace of gi matches.
The black belt didn’t like the fact that the action kept going out of bounds, nor did he like some of the calls the ref was making, and was making his displeasure loudly known. After about the 3rd or 4th time the ref had to stop the match and restart it in the middle, the black belt physically separated the opponent from his student by putting his hands on the opponent’s shoulders and moving him away. He didn’t push him, but he did touch him. The opponent gave him a “Who the f*ck are you and why are you touching me?” look. He apparently also said something to that effect to the black belt as he was walking behind the ref to square back up with the black belt’s student.
At that point, the black belt walked around in front of the ref and kicked the opponent in the face. I didn’t even think the kick had connected because the opponent didn’t really seem phased, but according to people who had a different angle, it did indeed connect.
I had been standing behind one of the barricades next to some guys who were cheering on the opponent. When they saw the kick, they basically stomped on the barricade to get onto the mat. Other people moved in too. And then the black belt took off running, out of the venue. Some people followed him, and others milled around, and eventually they cleared the mat. The ref raised the opponent’s hand in victory and the place erupted in applause.
So that dude is now persona non grata, I’m assuming.
I’ll write about the spitting incident too, but first let’s hear about something more lighthearted: a funny incident in the men’s open division involving Johnny, who weighs about 145 soaking wet, and a huge dude nicknamed He Man, who was probably 220 and totally jacked. For those of you who don’t know, the open division is the division where anybody of any weight can fight. So of course the bigger guys have an advantage.
But in this case, here’s what happened: Johnny crawled around He Man like a flea on a bear and eventually caught him in a tight triangle from the guard. He Man didn’t tap quickly enough, so he went to sleep, snoring and everything. Now, there are air chokes and there are blood chokes. Air chokes cut off your air, and blood chokes cut off the blood flow to the brain, as their names imply. And sometimes a choke is both an air choke and a blood choke. Either way, when you are caught in a choke, you pass out if you don’t tap, as He Man did. And when you pass out, your body goes limp. When He Man passed out, his body went limp on top of Johnny, who wasn’t able to get his leg out from under all 220 prone pounds of He Man. So he had to wait patiently on his hands and knees until others came to pull him out.
He Man was fine. For better or worse, passing out from chokes is a pretty common occurrence in grappling. It happened to my teammate this morning when he, Johnny, and another teammate and I were working on gi chokes. Twice. So when He Man woke up, he smiled, shook Johnny’s hand, and said it was an honor to have been choked out by him, that he had never experienced that before. He also said that when he went to sleep, he dreamed of the beach.
All the respect in the world goes to Johnny for taking down his own personal Goliath, and to He Man for being so good natured about the whole thing.