The Santa Cruz Civic Center set up for the Abu Dhabi Pro Qualifiers. Photo courtesy Rowdy.
by Rowdy B.
Sunday the 24th I was a competitor in the West Coast Qualifier tournament in Santa Cruz. This was a tournament with much on the line. A chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi to compete in their World Cup. Where else does a blue belt have a chance to earn thousands of dollars for a win? Nowhere else.
Making the seven hour drive up from San Diego I expected this to be great. I was not disappointed. The tournament was held in the Civic Center in Santa Cruz and was easy to find. If you were early you could find street parking for free, other wise you had to feed a meter every two hours. After showing my passport at registration and collecting a nicely done competitor t-shirt I made my way into the auditorium.
If you have ever competed at the Pan Am or Mundial you would have had instantly felt a feeling of familiarity. The only difference was things being on a smaller scale. The mats, fencing, tables everything reminded me of other high quality events I have competed in.
The tournament was scheduled to start at 9 AM and I was pleasantly surprised when at 8:45 AM competitors were called to the warm up area. Believe it or not, matches did start at 9 AM as advertised. The ID, weight and gi checks were exactly at other tournaments I have been to run by the IBJJF, so things were efficient and there were no surprises. Unless you were over weight, as the scale I used in the warm up area gave me a 0.3 pound lighter reading than the final scale used to either qualify or disqualify you. As I was an early competitor maybe they were zeroed later, I would like to hope so.
Watching the other matches and the tournament progress I was struck by the level of competition in the white and blue belt divisions. With so much at stake everyone brought their “A” game. People had obviously been training extra hard as this was a big chance and the matches showed it. Checking scores I think I could cover 85% of the matches with a 2-0, 10-0 or submission as the final result.
Emotions were worn on peoples’ sleeves, competitors gave it their all and when a loss was dealt, sometimes the great dissatisfaction shown through. But coaches calmed down, competitors got back up and hugged. To win here took an effort I had only seen before at the Pan Am or Mundials.
A great system to move competitors along, a clear and loud PA system unclouded by music, good mats, fierce competition, referees who answered every question of them, beautiful medals and things running on time. Can you imagine a better tournament? The organizers can, and I can’t wait to see how the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Cup turns out!
Rowdy B. trains at the Fabio Santos Jiu-Jitsu, and writes the blog Rowdy Style. He placed second in Adult Blue Belt at 139lbs in this tournament.
The t-shirts available for competitors.
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.