A submission grappling competitor lifts his opponent over his head at the Copa Nova earlier this year.
On April 18 James Clingerman was competing in the Ohio Grappling Challenge when his opponent picked him up and instead of bringing Clingerman down to the mat on his back, he spiked him on his head – a move that had the potential to paralyze Clingerman. (Video of the incident is found here on YouTube and takes place at about the 3 minute and 40 second mark). Although Clingerman was unconscious for 20 seconds and was taken to the emergency room, thankfully it is believed that he avoided neck and spinal damage according to x-ray and CT scans since the event. Today on the FightWorks Podcast we speak with Clingerman and Dustin Ware, the promoter of the OGC who was matside when the illegal move took place.
Why spend time on our show discussing a single incident like this? As a safe competition environment is critical to all of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling community, we will actually go beyond the details of this unfortunate event and take things a step further this week on The FightWorks Podcast. We discuss the implications of reckless behavior in competition for the sport of grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. To do so we brought on the biggest names in jiu-jitsu tournaments in the United States:
- Mike Buckels, the technical director for the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation‘s events in the United States
- Joe Cuff, of the North American Grappling Association (NAGA)
- Andrew Smith, of US Grappling
- Brian Cimins, of Grapplers Quest, who had his own grappling career cut short by spinal injury that took place during a match that you can see at the 4 minute 28 second mark in this video.
In each conversation, the tournament promoters agree that such behavior is absolutely unacceptable and obviously disqualifies a competitor from that day’s event. Most agree that reckless endangerment of one’s opponent could also result in long term prohibitions from participation in future BJJ tourneys. Perhaps most importantly, all of these jiu-jitsu tournament promotions agree that they would be in favor of sharing information about such competitors to reduce the likelihood that a dangerous competitor enters their events or others’ events and puts anyone at risk.