I went up to Virginia Beach to intern/referee and work the US Grappling points tournament. I worked with a bunch of great people, got to train my refereeing skills (made some questionable and bad calls) and also competed in the purple belt featherweight division in my second outing as a purple belt.
A year ago, I made my return to competition after ACL reconstruction at this venue. A year fast forward and I'm in my second tournament as a purple belt. Wild.
I lost my first match to the eventual division winner then won my match for 3rd place via points. The 3rd place match is below. I could wax about taking time off due to being sick the week before and time spent on Judo before that but I decided to compete and it was a good experience. I see the purple belt jump from blue belt is considerable. You may or may not get that one mistake back. In my first match I didn't get the mistake back and lost by cross collar choke from the mount. Live by the face crush and die by the face crush and it came back to me this time.
I had really been in a lull in my training the past few weeks with little motivation to train, hampered by the North Carolina weather breaking up the weeks and then I got sick.
Looking back over my return to Judo competition, the sport feels radically different than it did when I left due to ACL injury. The automatic DQ for a slight leg touch feels punitive in the most understated of ways and I simply refuse to train and set aside time in my life to get on a plane and spend money to fly across the country to compete at the national level in Judo if something as errant as referee discretion that my elbow/hand grazed someone's leg can end my day.
Furthermore, the style of throwing and overall style of play while more upright is so fundamentally different from what I grew up in Judo playing that I doubt I will return to competition soon, if at all. It just doesn't feel like the same sport to me.
I've been fighting the cognitive dissonance since I returned, and pressed through training, and though I've done well fighting myself back into shape for the black belt division, I don't derive the same pleasure from winning in Judo that I once did.
Beginning there and continuing...Judo practice is much akin to wrestling practice. It is not fun in the way that I enjoy Jiu-Jitsu class. Judo is work. Without the payoff of enjoying winning and competing and with more things illegal than legal now in Judo along with a number of very counter-intuitive rules which are part of a very punitive/aggressive punishment policy of the rules to produce a hyper athletic/aggressive attacking sport with a very narrow window of throwing stylistically....I am stepping away from Judo competition for the time being.
I'm not going to say I am done, but it honestly feels that way. I don't blame anyone nor even really the organizations that be.
Coaches and clubs as part of the Judo mindset just accept the changes wholesale and that gets passed down: this expectation to quietly grin and bear it and bow politely.
I'm done. It's not fun anymore.
It doesn't have to be nor should it just be fun all the time.
But it's rarely fun for me with the restrictions upon restrictions upon illegalities.
I don't have to live with the results of other people's thinking nor decisions.
I don't have to invest my time in the sport if I don't want to.
I can deal with almost everything that bothers me about Judo....but not the austere expectation that I blindly and slavishly continue to invest my time, energy, money, and effort into a sport so radically different than when I started.
Some will just say I'm lazy or don't care or was never dedicated but that of course is to ignore the countless injuries, my knee surgery, and thousands upon thousands of repetitions on the mat.
They just need to distance and isolate me in their mind to rationalize their decision to stay despite the near deafening cognitive dissonance required to dismiss or ignore what has happened to the sport in a relatively short amount of time under their lackadaisically respectful and politely politically correct watch.
You can make it easier and more welcoming for people to continue to invest in your sport or you can choose to make it more difficult and blindly expect them to just suck it up and deal with it.
Judo has made its choice and so have I.