Tournament Review Tuesday: 2009 American BJJ Nationals

by Jordan Blanchard

At the risk of sounding like a commercial for IBJJF, IBJJF sponsored tournaments have the most athletes, for the most competition classes, and are more on time than any other organization’s tournaments. The recent American Nationals was no exception.

The American Nationals were held once again at Cal State Dominguez Hills. As compared to the Pan Am’s or the Mundials, the American Nationals have a laid back feel. There is no cover charge, much lower fan attendance, and more room to spread out and enjoy the competition. But that does not mean the competition was any less thrilling. Some of my favorites competed at the tournament including Saulo Ribeiro, Mike Fowler, and Joel Tudor (all of which won first place). There were many more well known competitors as well.

I attended Saturday as a guest, and Sunday as a competitor. Saturday involved mostly lower belts including white, blue and purple. Sunday was reserved for purple, brown, and a lot of black belt action. It was easy to stay and enjoy all the matches because the arena was not so crowded.

Once again, I thought the referees were fantastic. I saw very little arguing, and the refs made a point to talk to the competitors prior to each match to clarify rules or rulings that seemed to be coming up throughout the tournament. I’ve been to other tournaments where the referees are also competitors, or younger, or lack training. There is nothing wrong with that since the goal is to provide a venue for competition. But the professionalism and consistency of the referee calls are a major bonus to IBJJF events.

The athlete list grew from the prior year, and hopefully it will continue to grow. For ‘recreational’ jiu jitsu practitioners, the Pan Ams and the American Nationals provide a good bookend for those competitors that may only want to compete in two tournaments per year – the Pan Ams early in the year, the American Nationals towards the end of the year, both about 6 months apart.

In conclusion, I would recommend the American Nationals to any competitor or fan.


Jordan Blanchard is a senior 2 brown belt and trains under Ricardo Guimaraes at Gracie Barra – Temecula, California. You can check out our video from the American Nationals on The FightWorks Podcast YouTube page.

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. Through the rest of 2009, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb

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