On Saturday the 9th of May 2015 my Jiu Jitsu instructor Dave ‘Speedy’ Elliott held his biannual grading day which consists of an inter-club submission only competition.
I love these days, Speedy has affiliate clubs in Darlington, Durham, 2 in Newcastle including his own and us up north of the wall are the wildlings of Dundee.
There was 9 of us that travelled down, wee Frank, Ronnie, Paul C, Donald, Roddy, Kev, Paul P, Baz and myself. At the start we all got on the mats and Speedy gave a little speech to welcome us all and tell us there rules… 10 minute time limit, submission only and straight leg locks are in!
I was in the -80kg weight bracket which I think was combined the -85kg which meant there was 4 guys including fellow wildling Paul P. My first match was against a guy called Steve. Now Steve was a few inches shorter than me and I’d say roughly 10 years older. I can hear you all now ‘doddle Grant’s gonna smash this dude!’ No not quite he may have been smaller and older but he was made out of pure granite, strong as hell and his base was like trying to move an elephant. All I can remember about it was I attacked a lot with gi chokes and I escaped an Achilles lock with ease as I practised the escape a couple of days before. This was a tough match it went the full 10 minutes, my forearms were dead with gripping but I got the decision and all is good in the world.
Next up was Paul P. Now Paul is a judo guy, a black belt judoka, a fucken 2nd degree judo black belt so when we slapped hands, fist pumped and felt each other’s arses I was shocked to see Paul adopt the crouching tiger position! Well we all know the only way to defeat this move is to move in close for the crane kick(you know from the karate kid movies), as I did Paul pounced foot swept me and I landed on my head! From there on he had me in side control(just where I wanted him) working my arm but I wouldn’t give him it, it’s mine but he was adamant so he ripped it off and put it in his bag so he could eat it on the long journey home! Well done Paul… Well done!
Weight class finished Speedy threw a curve ball and started the grading proceedings early before the absolute divisions.
Kids were first, they all levelled up and got a new shiny grey and white belts all well deserved, they gave it their all and it was great to see.
Dom then gave all the Darlington guys stripes and then it was my turn to hand out stripes to the guys from Dundee. My hands were shaking like a mad, who thought this responsibility would have this effect and trying to put a piece of tape on a belt was the hardest thing I had to do all day. 7 in total, Ronnie got his 1st, Paul his 2nd, Donald his 3rd, Roddy got 3 stripes and Kev his 4th(he was gutted he really wanted his blue).
Job done and I went and joined the other mortals in line. Now it’s time for belts and stripes for coloured belts.
Before I start I’ll tell you about a plan that Baz came up with roughly 6 weeks prior to the grading. Kev has been a white belt for roughly 5 years, in fact lately we’ve been calling him a 10th degree white belt so wouldn’t it be funny to play a little trick on him?! You see earlier when he received his 4th stripe he smiled but you could see he was gutted so when Speedy called out his name for his blue belt it made it all the sweeter for him and I had to put up with his smug face all the way home.
Next up for promotion was… Grant! Eh… Wait.. That’s erm ME!! Wow a lot of emotions came flooding but held them back for now.
The next guy is a true martial artist in every way possible, he is constantly trying to improve his skills whether it is Judo, MMA, Striking or Jiu Jitsu and a true family man. Paul Patrick purple belt!
Baz was up. Baz had already received his purple belt 6months earlier and was now time for his 1st stripe. Baz and I have been training together for about 5 years, constantly turning up when no one else would, keeping each other motivated and spurring each other on and it was magnificent to see him get this.
There was 2 other memorable promotions that day and that was Scuba the Josh Barnett doppelgänger, his commitment to Jiu Jitsu and teaching the kids is second to none and a monster on the mats, very well deserved. The other was Tyrone(Speedy’s son), I met Tyrone when he was 15 and making his MMA debut. He is a phenomenal athlete, his Jiu Jitsu is on point and probably should have been promoted a few years ago and the best thing is he’s only 20 years old and now a brown belt!
Grading done now time for the Open weight section. Yes that’s right we’ve all been graded and now we’re doing the absolute divisions! So Paul P and I entered as purple belts, Baz entered and 2 others, Foz(ex paratrooper) and Karl(think of The hound from game Of Thrones but bigger and stronger). First round and I got a buy. Paul vs Foz, Paul won and I can’t remember the details. Baz vs Karl, Karl bulldozed passed Baz in roughly 60 seconds with some sort of choke. Me vs Karl, sweep BOOM arm bar, 30 seconds at a push and I was beat. Final Paul vs Karl, yeah you guessed it Karl won but taking much longer, I think Baz and I tired him out.
The day was done everyone was exhausted and to be honest I was emotional. It had been an excellent day for everyone at the North East gathering of Origin Jiu Jitsu team especially my group from Dundee. I couldn’t by happier to train with such a band of brothers.