Alex Lee won silver at the London Winter Open Jiu Jitsu Championships

LONDON: Malaysian postgraduate student Alexander Lee Zhen An, 22, took a breather from his studies to participate in the London Winter Open Jiu Jitsu Championships last Saturday. He clinched a silver medal.

Lee, who participated in the white belt, adult male, medium-heavy category at Crystal Palace, missed out on a gold medal in the final. The match had ended with a 0-0 score but the referee awarded the fight to his opponent, Robert Crerie.

“The third and final match was tough, my opponent was on guard for much of the match.

“The score was 0-0 with no advantages or fouls. Since it cannot end in a draw, the referee had to make a decision on who he thought did more. He gave it to my opponent. I cannot complain as it is the referee's decision, which I must respect,” said Lee who represented Marco Canha in the UK.

The University College London student, who is doing his MSc in Global Governance and Ethics, first learned BJJ in Malaysia with Professor Pedro Falbo from GFTeam (grappling fight team) Malaysia and continued his training in London.

“I had three fights in my competition, I won the first one 10-0. My opponent at some point, I am sure it was unintentional, somehow poked my eye, which irritated me during the fight. But when you are in the zone, you don’t stop.

“I was glad I managed to deal with it and not let it affect me. My eye just stung.

“Unfortunately, the second fight was stopped half way as my opponent suddenly vomited on the side of the mat after we scrambled for position. He was then no longer fit to continue,” said Lee, recalling his first BJJ Gi tournament which earned him his first medal.

“This was my first BJJ Gi tournament. I had been focusing on other disciplines of martial arts, such as Muay Thai, No-Gi Grappling and MMA, and neglected the Gi for a while. After a break from training, I decided to return to focusing on the traditional BJJ discipline (with the gi/kimono).

Lee found jiu jitsu the most intellectual martial art he had ever come across.

“You cannot 'lie' or 'cheat' in jiu jitsu. The level of technicality and attention to detail required is so fascinating, and it keeps you, as a student of the martial art, hungry for more. You keep wanting to know more techniques, more submissions, more counters, more ways to beat your opponent. Not by being a sheer brute however, but by intellectually and technically dominating your opponent through physical means.”

Lee, who competed one weight class above his normal weight, believes that one of the arts of fighting is being able to control aggression and efficiently use it, alongside technique and physical skill.

“I strike the right balance between aggression and control. I make sure I am amped up and prepared for a 'dog fight' but also conserve my emotions from overspilling. I believe one of the arts of fighting, is being to control aggression and efficiently use it, alongside technique and physical skill,” said Lee of his mental preparation before the fight.

At the London Winter Open Jiu Jitsu Championships, Malaysian teen, Adam Akasyah, 17, bagged a gold medal in the featherweight category. He will participate in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam at the Olympic Park, this Sunday.

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