For the past couple of weeks, our students were preparing for the US Pankration Tournament that was held on Sunday, September 23rd in Laguna Hills. Because not all of our students were sure if they wanted to compete or not, we had all of our students practice pankration. If you’d like to know more about the tournament, you can read about it here: http://fightleague.org/Events.php
Out or all of our kids and pre-teens class, only four students competed. They not only competed because they wanted to win the championship belt, but they wanted to compete for the experience of fighting.
I wanted to share our experiences about being a Coach/Sifu and write this not only to express how well our students did, but for other coaches/Sifus/Senseis/Masters or even students to understand what we go through during tournaments.
Because the tournament wasn’t running on time, we had very little time to get the kids warmed up and ready. But the good thing was, I think our students were highly prepared even before walking into the gym.
Now to the experience of the fights.
The kid’s names have been changed in this blog to insure the children’s privacy.
First fight: Kids ages 5-7 under 70lbs.
With the little time we had after the refs went over the rules I had to speed and get one of our kid fighters ready, Wy. With the complete new environment, he wasn’t even hitting my focus pads, not looking me in the eye, and looking at everything else, but me. It was a little nerve wrecking, but I had confidence that he was going to do fine.
Then it was time for his bout. The kid they put against him was a good match. They were the same age and the same weight. I talked to the other coaches and they told me he was fairly new to the sport. Which was great because my fighter Wy was still new to the sport as well. However, I did feel a little sorry for the other kid because my fighter was about 4 inches taller. Which I think can be intimidating for a 6 year old.
Because I have two other coaches that were helping prepare for this tournament, I specifically asked him who he wanted in his corner. He told me he wanted me in his corner. I took Wy to his ring, gave him a pep talk and I knew he was ready to go.
The two fighters shook hands and they fought. Both fighters did an excellent job on their stand up techniques. I told my fighter to circle out when the other fighter attacked with punches, then the refs told me that he can’t “run away” I was a little upset about that, but I moved on. I then kept yelling, do a take down, then my fighter took his opponent down, did some techniques and submitted the other fighter in a rear naked choke. Wy won his first bout.
Next fight: Kids ages 10-11 under 80lbs.
The second fight that went on was B. B is extremely new to MMA, when I mean new, I mean 2 months new, but he was practicing so hard for this tournament, I figured he’d do fine. I talked to his opponent as we were waiting to go up. The other fighter told me he has been fighting in jiu jitsu for about 2 years. I told B to stay standing up as much as possible because I knew this fighter was strong on the ground. After a couple of seconds in the ring, B was submitted with a side arm bar. Which was fine, I knew we had another round to go and I could sense that B was nervous.
Next fight: Kids ages 10-11 under 125lbs
The third fight that went on was Ba. Ba went against someone that was extremely taller than him and he looked a lot older than him. I talked to Ba’s opponent before they fought and he said he’s had a couple of jiu jitsu fights, but not too many MMA fights. He looked a lot tougher so before the fight even started, I had a talk with the refs to make sure to keep an eye that the other fighter doesn’t have too much power and if he causes too much pain, to stop the fight. I didn’t want my student to get hurt. I wanted to make sure his first fight was a good experience. The older the kids get, the more powerful their strikes are. The refs complied. Because my pre-teens program is still a small class, I hadn’t had a chance for Ba to go against someone taller and bigger than him so he going against this bigger kid was a good shock. Ba was taken down and Ba lost by a kimura.
Next fight: Kids ages 8 and 9 under 70lbs.
The last fight was Ren. Sifu Peter was in Ren’s corner. Ren is a girl and she fought a boy that was about 6 inches taller than her. I think her seeing a taller boy, who also looked tougher was a little intimidating. Before she even got in the ring, she was getting tired because she was already waiting for awhile. Ren got kicked with a front snap ball kick a couple of times and got the wind knocked out of her, Sifu Peter thought she was going to stop, but she kept going. The other fighter then took her down and submitted her in an arm bar.
After all the kids went once, they had a lot more confidence, the butterflies were out of their stomachs and they were ready to go.
Wy went against the same kid again because there were no other kids in his category. He then won by rear naked choke again, which earned him the title of National Pankration Champion in his category.
B went against someone else in his category. This time the fight lasted so much longer. He had a lot more confidence and strength that got him through the second round. He was able to hold his ground for most of the round. He then got submitted by a triangle choke.
Ba went against someone else in his category, but was a way better match compared to his first bout. I had done some research on his opponent. He had experience fighting in jiu jitsu, but was new to pankration. He was the nicest kid ever. I told Ba before we got in the ring, this kid is highly experienced, he’s competed in jiu jitsu and is a Camo fighter, do you still want to fight? Ba had an excellent attitude and said, “Sifu Cherry, all I want to do is fight for the experience.” Then I said, okay, no problem. Let’s do it. But I told him that if I notice he’s in danger, I will stop the fight for his safety. Ba did extremely better in this bout. He was able to take punches, give them, and went for almost the full three minutes. Because the kid he went against was so much more experienced, his punches were a lot harder too. It was a good shock to Ba so me as a coach, I stopped the fight. I was proud of him on how long he was able to hold his ground that I told myself, this is good enough. No one is hurt and he got the experience he needed.
Then Ren went again. Ren was extremely tired and hungry by this time. It was already about 1:30pm and it was extremely hot inside the gym. Keep in mind everyone arrived at the gym about 10am. This time around, the kid she went against was a great match for her, a lot better than the first round. I had confidence she’d do great. The other kid was also really nice which helped too. This round Ren did so much better. She took some awesome hits which caused her to cry. I asked the refs for a time out. Then I asked Ren, “I can completely stop the fight, do you want me to stop it?” Then Ren said, “No Sifu Cherry, I’ll keep going.” So I said, “Okay, finish strong”. There was very little time left in the round and time was up. Ren lost by points.
Then we had awards about an 45 minutes later, which seemed like FOR-EV-ER in the HOT gym. Wy was our only student who went home with an award, which is okay. We all left the tournament as winners in our hearts. It was definitely a great experience and now we can only learn from it.
Written by: Sifu Cherry