Tournament Review Tuesday: BJJ British Open

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United Kingdom
Andy Roberts (white gi) defends an armbar attack from Oliver Geddes.

by Seymour Yang

World BJJ and ADCC Champion Braulio Estima came back to the UK from a lengthy seminar tour of the US to host this, the second BJJ British Open gi event at the Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre in Birmingham.

I attended and competed at the same event last year and noticed that the tournament organisers made several improvements – mainly the separation of categories over two days, rather than one. Saturday included all the kids, womens and white belt divisions, Sunday included all the blue, purple, brown and black belt divisions. I attended the Sunday event only.

One of the most noticeable things to having a tournament spread over two days is the fact that things are a lot more relaxed. Last year, with all divisions competing on the same day, things got a little overcrowded. Today, it was very quiet. Perhaps a little too quiet during the early part of the day and the PA announcer tried his best to gee up the audience to support the fighters on the mats.

The morning segment hosted all the purple and above categories. A total of eight mats were laid out, although I would say no more than four or five were in action at any one time. Stand-out matches for me were the brown belt lightweights final, with a tough technical match between RGA’s Andy Roberts and RGA’s Oli Geddes – proving that fellow academy mates can compete against each other and still give a good fight. The other outstanding fight, and one that the crowd did all cheer for in unison, was the purple belt final between long-standing rivals, Daniel Strauss (RGA) and Stephen Martin (Gracie Barra). The match between these two highly talented fighters ebbed and flowed with Martin seemingly taking the edge until Strauss, just before time scored a guard pass to side mount…or so we all thought. It took a video replay and the intense discussion between, the referees, Roger Gracie and Braulio Estima to decide that Strauss’s side mount was not held stationary for long enough to count as points so the win was given to Martin. It was a privilege to watch these two in action and I am sure they will have many more battles to come.

The afternoon segment hosted all the blue belts, which filled up the hall and gave a boost to the overall atmosphere of the event. I saw a lot of great matches but I had to leave early so missed the absolutes.

A big well done to the organisers of the BJJ British Open. This event, although only in its second year, is looking more and more like the professional tournament that Braulio is so keen to have it become. With over 600 competitors entering, spreading it out over two days is a sensible move. I’m sure this tournament will continue to grow from strength to strength each year.

Seymour Yang is a purple belt from the Mill Hill Roger Gracie Academy and writes the BJJ blog: He won bronze at the BJJ British Open.

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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