Tournament Review Tuesday: Copa Nova

Review #1, from Jeremy Lafreniere, of Capital Jiu-Jitsu

The Copa Nova Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships, held at the new Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia, turned out to be a medium sized “local” tournament with big teams and big names present. Competitors from Lloyd Irvin, Yamasaki, Capital Jiu-Jitsu, Fightworks, 50/50, Caique, Gustavo Machado, Vanguard, De La Riva, Revolution BJJ and many more teams made it to the Saturday event. Names of coaches and competitors included Gustavo Machado, Lloyd Irvin, David Jacobs, Doug Esposito, Ryan Hall, Tony Passos, Andrew Correa and Toney Waldecker.

The day started off very well, with Andrew Correa providing an informative rules meeting, and the action beginning promptly. Though the mat space was tight, the expert staffing made the experience very smooth. Also, there was plenty of room to walk around, warm-up and watch as the competitors did what they came to do.

At the end of the kids’, women’s and No-Gi matches, the staff cleaned and disinfected the mats – a very nice touch! Also, there was NO unnecessary mat traffic. In general competitors and coaches seemed more friendly and respectful than usual – but that might have had something to do with the fact that most attending didn’t need to drive far, the space wasn’t at all crowded and it was all done in less than a day (the tournament was completed by 6:00pm).

Stand-out competitors include Melissa Lopes from Capital Jiu-Jitsu and Tim Koren from 50/50. Melissa, the lightest women’s competitor at 119.6, won intermediate No-Gi, women’s blue belt (120 – 134.9) and women’s blue belt absolute. Tim Koren won the advanced lightweight and purple belt lightweight divisions. Looking at them both, it is clear that they have much to look forward to in the world of competitive grappling.

Review #2, from Kenny Savercool, of Team Balance/Fifty50

Having attended nearly every Copa Nova tournament since Fightworks began putting on the event (had to sit one out due to knee surgery), I have had the pleasure of watching the event grow and mature into what it had become yesterday… and that was one of the finest run local events this area has seen since US Grappling nearly a year ago. The following is an overview of Copa Nova from beginning to end, highlighting the pluses and minuses for the competitors.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with table workers at two stations. One area for filling out registration forms and another for recording competitor divisions and weights. Although I only noticed one scale, I didn’t even have to wait in line. The whole registration process was quick and efficient thankfully. The price was more than fair I felt. In a world of rising tournament prices, I paid $75 for as many divisions as I wanted. For those that compete in open weight or masters divisions in addition to their weight class or adult divisions, this saves a ton of cash.

The rules meeting covered all the normal stuff. Scoring for positions, illegal techniques etc. The tournament for the most part followed CBJJ rules. There were some grumblings from competitors about certain rules. For example, when going for a straight foot lock, the outside foot was not only banned from crossing the hip to the reap the knee, but rather it was not allowed to be placed on the hip whatsoever. This included advanced divisions in which twisting knee locks were in fact legal. I found that contradiction in the rules somewhat strange. Also any form of neck crank was made illegal even for Advanced divisions. Here are my favorite quotes from head ref Andrew Correa during the rules meeting:

“You do knee on belly like this what do you get? 2 points? NO! A business card with the name of my gym so you can learn how to do knee on belly correctly.” (In reference to proper knee on belly scoring)

“That’s not a submission, that is pressure. If you can’t take the pressure, you tap. I like red, you like blue, so tap.” (In reference to a competitor asking if a body triangle was a legal submission)

The referee’s and Andrew Correa’s organization of the event were by far the highlight to me. The reffing was extremely consistent in accordance with the rules of the event and I can count the number of poor calls on one hand. Or two fingers to be exact. As head ref, Andrew was constantly moving around the mats observing his refs and jumping in when need to be tell coaches to move back off the mats, or call competitors to their mat as a division started. There was very little downtime between brackets. What I found most noteworthy about Correa’s crew was that one two occasions throughout the day they halted matches to wash down the mats with anti bacterial in order to further prevent any skin diseases from being transmitted. The whole process of washing and drying took only minutes and hardly disrupted the event.

Another highlight of the event that was out of Fightworks and Correa’s control was the high level of talent at the event. In the past, the Copa Nova has been conflicting with Yamasaki’s in house tournament, and not had a strong showing from Lloyd Irvin students. At this event, twice as many competitors showed up as ever before and every division was extremely tough. Some of the best locals from every association came out and some of the matches were real wars, especially the purple belt division as a whole. Brendan Raedy and Roberto Torralbas had one of the most exciting matches of the day in their advanced no gi division, which Torralbas won by advantage in overtime.

Another thing that impressed me was the way a teammate of mine was treated by the staff. Having paid to enter three divisions, he was injured in a freak shoulder popping out of place accident in his first match. Unable to continue, he asked the staff if it was possible for a teammate that was only competing in one division to step in for him for the remainder of the events that he could no longer compete in. They had no problem with this and quickly filled in the stand in’s name on the brackets. I grew up in the punk rock scene, with a strong DIY work ethic. And as such I carry about a mentality that when putting a show, you treat the band right and do whatever you can for them. When you support the scene in which you participate in, they will support you back. This is how small communities continue to thrive. I was really happy to see the staff of this event value the competitors experience at the Copa Nova over money, when I know for a fact that at some of the bigger tournaments they would have laughed him off just for asking.

The only real complaint from the event that seemed to come from the fighters was the division of the weight classes. With such a large turnout, the weight classes seemed inappropriately condensed. They went up by 15lbs at a time, with the lowest being 149.9 and below. One competitor who weighed in at a natural 129lbs was wrestling against an opponent that weighed in at 149.9lbs but cut from 160lbs to get there. With the large turnout I would say it is time to bring back the 139.9 and below division that has been present in past Copa Nova’s and possibly change the weight divisions to increase by 10lbs at a time rather than 15. The promotion gets bigger with every event and there should be more than enough fighters to fill out the brackets.

Reading back over the review I almost hate to submit it having sung so many praises. But Fightworks and crew more than deserve it, as this event proves you can cater to the competitors while still running a successful tournament by being organized, having an efficient staff and working for the interest of the competitors. (After all, without the competitors, the event dies) I am looking forward to competing in future events and watching as the Copa Nova takes over as the top Washington DC local tournament.


This is the fifth in our new column, Tournament Review Tuesdays, where FightWorks Podcast listeners submit reports about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions that happened the weekend prior. – Caleb

One thought on “Tournament Review Tuesday: Copa Nova”

  1. hi. is this a no-gi tornament? do u have to be on a team/bjj school to participate?

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