From Laurence Griffiths.
The Bristol Open is fast becoming one of the most notable tournaments on the UK BJJ circuit. It’s a regular on any fighter’s calendar and this year being held for the first time over 2 days at a new venue increasing the number of mats from 3 to 4 and for the first time hosting a brown belt division and black belt super fights. Unfortunately due to other commitments I was only able to attend the first day, which meant missing the opportunity to watch Eduardo Telles fight, so this review will cover day one.
The change in venue offered an improvement in facilities over the previous year. The location is now only a few minutes walk from the nearest train station and the sports hall offered greater space for fighters and spectators, which also included more changing facilities. This and the friendly nature of the staff helped create a relaxed atmosphere which proved important, given a definite increase in attendance over 2008.
With the first day comes the first belt, white and there were hundreds milling around eager to get what may well have been their first taste of BJJ competition. With there being both adult and master categories and forty plus fighters in some divisions you can get some idea of what I mean. This is definitely an excellent testing ground for those who are new to the competition with the perfect mix of atmosphere and opposition. Similar comments can be made of the second largest division of the day blue adult and master. Even though the numbers may not have been as great there was a distinct depth through out the majority of categories which is a big plus, as the last thing you want are yourself and one other registering with the later failing to show. The quality of the fighting was also very high with some very close matches won with smooth transitions, movement and tight submissions. Competitors really looked prepared demonstrating how important the Bristol Open is becoming on the UK scene. However, all the above said I also have to mention the unfortunate downside of the day.
Schedules were posted on-line prior to the start of the tournament although these were very broadly defined leaving a lot fighters hanging around for hours. To use an example it stated the blue belt division started at 12pm without mention of specific categories and the blue adult heavy bracket didn’t start until around 5pm, with the earliest blue belt fights not starting until 2pm. This is a long time to be hanging when you’re not given much indication of when you will start and from most people I spoke to their fights were running 2 to 3 hours late. Understandably it has to be difficult to organize such a large event especially with the increase in numbers from 2008, however being in limbo for so long makes it very difficult to stay motivated and focused. It’s a shame that it happened to what could have otherwise been a very good tournament and is something that needs correcting if the open wants to establish itself further and help drive the growth of BJJ in the UK. It has been rumored that the computer used to store the brackets crashed, losing all its data which if it is true would explain the chaos that ensued. Hopefully people weren’t put off by this as the competition has and should continue to grow over the next few years.
In summary the tournament offers both beginners an excellent chance to test the water in the world of BJJ competition and also more experienced fighters the chance to challenge themselves against some of the best in the UK. The timing is an issue and even though no one expects it to be exactly to the minute, improvements are needed if the tournament is to continue growing as it has over recent years.
This is an installment in our Tournament Review Tuesdays column, where FightWorks Podcast listeners submit reports about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions that happened the weekend prior. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast. – Caleb