Announcing the Winner of the 2010 Tournament Review Tuesday Contest!

Shoyoroll Mamba
Contest prize from Shoroyoll!

There is no typo in the title of this post. This is really more than six months overdue! Literally! And I am not proud of that!

But here we are, so on to business.

Our Tournament Review Tuesday column is where members of the FightWorks Podcast family (that’s you) contribute a review… of tournaments… that are posted on Tuesdays.

Last year we said that one contributor of such a review would be chosen at random and would win a gi. We are here today to deliver on that promise, with assistance from the great guys at Shoyoroll! As you heard at the 2011 BJJ World Championships during the broadcast, the gis from Shoyoroll are in high demand and are made in limited quantities, so I am very grateful that the gang from Shoyoroll would offer one for us to give a way in a contest.

We had fifteen posts in 2010 that were Tournament Review Tuesday posts (this contest doesn’t include Tournament Results Tuesday, mind you). I grabbed my list of qualifying events in which were in a random order, headed over to random.org and asked it to present one number between one and fifteen to decide which of the posts would decide who gets the Shoyoroll gi and found that the winning post is:

Tournament Review Tuesday: Manchester Open Jiu-Jitsu Tournament by Jon Broster!

Jon will receive one White Mamba gi courtesy of Shoyoroll! Jon, congratulations! I will be reaching out to you to follow up on how to receive your new Shoyoroll gi.

And many thanks again to Shoyoroll for sponsoring the giveaway!

Tournament Review Tuesday: BJJ Pro Cup in Beilla Italy


Sergio Moraes (left) against Kron Gracie at the 2010 BJJ World Championship. Photo courtesy cohost Dan.

by Piers Roberts

The BJJ Pro Cup, held in Beilla Italy, is the brain child of Ari Galo (the head of the Carlson School in Copacabana) supported by Carlson Gracie Jr.. Through their network of sponsors they raised about 60 000 EUR in prize money with some pretty solid prizes for the black belt categories 4 000 EUR and up to attract alot of the big names in the sport.

The event was envisaged to be Fri, Sat, Sun but for whatever reason they shifted it to Sat/Sun and put a seminar run by Ricardo De La Riva and Carlson Jr, but all in all there were about 20 black belts there too teaching so it became a free for all with various teachers showing techniques then someone piping up and offering the counter. The tournament started on time with 6 mans running simultaneously. The judging, in my humble opinion, was the most professional I have ever seen. The judges were apparently the same ones used for the Europeans, all flown over with extras for the super fights.

The venue was a large basket ball stadium no doubt part of the legacy from the Turin Winter Olympics, situated right beside a major shopping mall. On top of this the localtion in Piemonte, Italy was unreal to say the least.

Competitors came from all over the world, from Israel to America. Unsurprisingly there were more Brazilians than any other nationality. The super fights were, to put it bluntly, amazing. Kron Gracie‘s super brave style of Jiu Jitsu saw him acting as a submission sniper, submitting everyone. Every sub he went for he got.

All in all i can’t say enough good things about the experience.


Piers Roberts is a member of Fight Team Impact- Carlson Gracie Luxembourg.

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

Tournament Review Tuesday – British NoGi Open

by Jon Broster

Sunday 26 September 2010

For the second year running Braulio Estima hosted the British NoGi Open at Wolverhampton University. This is the largest NoGi event in the UK and probably Europe. The venue is excellent, with plenty of seating and a good viewing gallery. There were 7 mats and a warm-up area.

In the weeks leading up to the competition there was much discussion on the internet as to who should enter which division. This was mainly due to the decision of the organisers to classify the entry requirements for each division in terms of both belt rank and training time.

Current Belt (if applicable) OR equivalent Total Training Time (estimated)
Beginner (White) 1 year & 2months
Intermediate (Blue) up to 3 years
Advanced (Purple) up to 4.5 years
Elite (Brown) up to 6 years
Elite (Black) 6 years or more

Clearly, this presents potential conflicts as, for example, many students are still at blue belt well after 3 years of training. One might well argue that as this is primarily a jiu jitsu competition such guidelines are for the benefit of other competitors whose background is in MMA or submission grappling. Whatever the reason for the different entry requirements some people clearly felt there was room for abuse. I was standing right beside a well known MMA coach who turned in disgust from the ring, as one of his female fighters was beaten, muttering “Sandbagger!” At the other end of the scale, some people felt that it was unreasonable for purple belts with 6 years of experience to enter themselves in the Elite division. Clearly, NoGi competitions will attract competitors who usually train in systems other than BJJ and it is very difficult to ensure that everyone is happy with the way that divisions are structured; that said, I heard very little grumbling among the competitors.

Controversy aside, this was a great event, with in the region of 400 competitors. As well as large teams representing Braulio Estima, Victor Estima and the other large UK based BJJ academies, there were strong teams from both London Shootfighters and Leicester Shootfighters in addition to numerous other MMA gyms. There were competitors from all over the UK and also a strong Polish presence.

Right from the start, there were some excellent performances, demonstrating yet again the strength in depth of BJJ in Britain. Some of the divisions were very large, with the winners of some of the white and blue belt divisions having to win five fights to earn overall victory. There were a lot of very strong performances, with almost all the finals being very closely contested. The elite divisions too were very competitive, with plenty of black and brown belts providing some excellent matches – real entertainment for the spectators. Once again, the stand out fighter was Luke Costello. Last year as a purple belt at the Abu Dhabi Pro qualifier he took second place in a mixed purple/brown/black division. Here he took Elite gold in both his weight division and the Absolute.

Shortly after the middle of the day, Braulio called all the black belts present and all the officials and referees onto the mats to thank them personally for the support they have given both to the event and to the growth of BJJ in the UK. He then presented a plaque to his friend and student Steve Fan who is the overall tournament organiser and without whom the competition would not have taken place. Steve is seriously ill and all present gave him a standing ovation and wished him well.

Overall, it was a great day and while Braulio’s students may have dominated the medals tables, there were also good showings from his brother Victor’s newly formed Gracie Barra Midlands team and from Checkmat. Hopefully, Braulio and Steve can continue in this vein next year and hold some more excellent tournaments.


Jon Broster trains under Victor Estima at GB Midlands – he placed third in Senior Blue belt Middle Heavy.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb

Tournament Review Tuesday: Liga Nacional De Submission, Santiago, Chile


All photos courtesy Dev Kostal.

by Dev Kostal

I’ve come to find out that outside Brazil, a lot of the emphasis in Latin America – at least as far as competitions go – is on no-gi jiu jitsu, or “submission.” I stumbled on a competition during my time in Chile where all the guys at the gym seemed to know about it, but I couldn’t find any information online.

The Chilean National Submission League was formed, as I was told, to provide a place where the inordinately large number of amateur wrestling students could meet and compete with the thriving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community, with a mixed set of rules. So at the inception, they assumed some slightly different standards than the IBJJF-approved no-gi rules. One of the main differences, aside from time of rounds (3 minutes for novice, 5 for advanced) was that they allowed wrestling shoes. Although my fear of seeing (or getting) a toe mangled was heightened, it didn’t end up being an issue. This particular competition was held at the University Of Santiago, in a multistory sports complex.

My main problem with the tournament was finding ANY information at all online. Google just isn’t helpful when the majority of the advertising is being done word-of-mouth and through restricted-access Facebook pages. The league just is not set up for wandering visitors, such as myself, to happen upon. That said, when you travel, if you link up with a good school, they tend to let you know.
If you can move past the advertising snafus and the slightly different rules – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t – it becomes, as their motto indicates, a place where “the sport is central.” Everyone was there to have a good day of rolling, plain and simple.

As was the case with other small competitions, signups were done the morning of, and then we waited for the organizers to arrange the brackets. Because there were only about 40 guys there, it didn’t take too long. Weight divisions were in 10kg increments, which I personally thought might have been a bit much, but with the number of people it gave everyone a good fight and still had a couple brackets with 3 fights.

Experience levels were either novice or advanced. I don’t know what the cutoff was between the two, but as a sub-2 year blue belt (normally intermediate), I was shuffled into the advanced division (appropriately, I think, given the level of the majority of the competitors, who were novice and competing for the first time). There were three guys in my category (<85kg, advanced): me, a purple belt, and a brown belt. Brackets were done by drawing numbers, which I thought was fantastically objective. On the other hand, it did lead to a couple guys from the same school on the same side of the bracket, which is always unfortunate. Prior to starting, the organizers sat all the competitors down and conducted a thorough rules briefing, which in my opinion really set this competition apart. Because most of the novice fighters were competing for the first time, this allowed them to ask questions and see demonstrations of what was allowed and what wasn’t. I was impressed at the detail they used in this briefing, and impressed that they did it – this is far from the standard, and a welcome addition to any tournament, as far as I’m concerned.

There was one competition mat and some small gymnastic pads pushed together to create a warmup area. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was enough, and the fights went quickly enough that the one mat was sufficient – the waits weren’t long at all, as the refs kept the matches moving along with short breaks in between.

The brackets were run bottom-to-top, with all the first round fights going before the second round. This allowed the first round winners plenty of time to recuperate, something I always pay attention to.
The reffing was solid and attentive, as was the timekeeping. There weren’t huge LED scoreboards or anything, but they had a nice big manual scoreboard on the table by the mat, one official timekeeper, and a scorekeeper. Additionally, the mat was set up with a barrier around it, and coaches’ chairs in the corner, another nice touch.

The level of fighting was impressive, although unobjectively I’m happy to say that the BJJ practitioners generally trounced the pure wrestlers. Lots of excellent takedowns, reversals, mental toughness, and general strategery were on display throughout the day.

This wasn’t a gigantic IBJJF event, but it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t perfect – the locker rooms/bathrooms were 4 floors down from the mats, and it seemed to take a little while to get going despite the proclaimed 1 PM start time (which was actually the “show up and get your name on the list” time), but aside from some small quibbles, I have to say that this was exactly the type of small tournament that I think is vital to progressing and encouraging BJJ around the world. It brought together a group of people for the sole purpose of experience and camaraderie. It was professionally organized and run, and I was truly impressed with the organizers’ efforts to keep everyone informed throughout the day.

Thanks to Sensei Victor Vásquez at Real Fighting Club (http://chilejiujitsu.cl) in Santiago for the invitation, and thanks to the Liga Nacional De Submission for a quality event.


Devlin Kostal is a blue belt under Daniel Thomas at Zeus BJJ (http://montereyjiujitsu.com) in Monterey, California, who is currently traveling through Latin America. Thus far, he’s trained in Lima, Peru; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; and Santiago, Chile. His blog, Fueled By Fear, can be found at http://devbjj.blogspot.com.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb

Tournament Review Tuesday: 2010 Master/Senior World Championship


Tijuca Tenis Clube in Rio, site of many historic Brazilian jiu-jitsu matches. All photos courtesy Dev Kostal.

by Dev Kostal

I competed at the Master/Senior World Championships in Rio De Janeiro, which is held concurrently with the Rio Open Championship. Both are IBJJF events.

I competed in the blue belt master division, which ran Friday morning and Friday afternoon, so this review is based on that day’s events, for the most part.

Walking into the Tijuca Tênis Clube evokes some pretty strong feelings for me. I love history, and I’m particularly enamored with the small stories, the ones that not many people get to hear.

Quite a few years ago now, Francisco Mansor was the Chief of Police in Rio. As such, he had connections all over the city. And when the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Chapionships were held in 1996, Grand Master Mansor used his connections at the Tijuca Tênis Clube. The Mundials were held there until 2007, I believe, when they moved to Los Angeles.

Suffice to say, my apprehension upon entering the Club was significant. But it’s a pretty unassuming place. Concrete steps comprise the upper level seats, and simple plastic chairs – many of them broken or missing – are the closer ones. But it’s that simplicity that’s attractive about the place. There’s no presumption here – just amazing jiu jitsu.

You hear story after story about training and competing in Rio. Competing for the first time in Rio is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s the same as any other big tournament…except it’s not the same. You really do have to get over a mental hurdle – at least I did. Here you are, in Brazil, doing what you love, this Brazilian sport, fighting the best athletes in Brazil. It’s pretty significant. And you can feel that quiet energy when you walk in.

The tournament itself, from my perspective, was fantastic. Quite honestly, and I’ve only competed in 15 or so tournaments in my roughly 2 years in this sport, this was the most efficiently-run tournament I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

The brackets ran exactly on time, and once started, there was hardly any empty mat time between fights. All of the check-in details were done to IBJJF standards, with weigh-ins, gi checks, and ID checks.

Interestingly, the mat coordinators announced their divisions on the microphone individuals, which I hadn’t seen before – ordinarily there’s one or two announcers who make all the calls. For the gringo who doesn’t speak fantastic Portuguese, though, this helped me by being able to focus on one mat coordinator, so I knew roughly when I was going to get called.


.

What I found to be the best part of the tournament administration, though, was the consideration shown by the mat coordinators for the fighters’ efforts. Time in between matches didn’t seem to be too long, or too short. Most of the time I got 10-15 minutes, and I really appreciated that.

As per usual, the refereeing was excellent. Having spent most of the day there, I can’t recall seeing a single disputed decision. There may have been some, but it wasn’t nearly as prevalent as at Pans this year.

Later in the day, during the absolutes, there seemed to be a lot more injuries on the mats, so the medics were definitely earning their pay. But they were out in force, and I for one really appreciated their efforts.

I don’t have to tell you that the level of jiu jitsu being displayed (on Friday, it was blues, purples, and browns, both male and female) was unbelievable. For me, by far the best display was the women’s purple belt absolute match where (I apologize, I don’t have the names) a tiny little competitor overcame a much larger girl, who was physically throwing her around the mat, and ended up choking her out. Both competitors were phenomenal, and the entire arena was watching that fight.

All in all, my day at the Master/Senior Worlds lived up to my fairly high expectations of what my first competition in Rio would be like. The energy, the camaraderie, and the ridiculous level of jiu jitsu made for an unforgettable experience, one that I will carry with me for the rest of my BJJ career.


Devlin Kostal is a blue belt under Daniel “Ventania” Thomas at Zeus BJJ in Monterey, CA. He has been traveling through South America, and has been fortunate to train in Lima, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. His blog, Fueled By Fear, can be found at http://devbjj.blogspot.com. He took a gold medal in his division (blue master middle) and a bronze medal in the absolute division (blue master) at the Master/Senior Worlds.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb


The author (second from left) with his new gold medal.

Tournament Review Tuesday: Buckeye Border International Grappling Championship

by Brian Hemminger

The tournament was the Buckeye Border International Grappling Championship and it took place Saturday, July 24th in Toledo, Ohio at St. Francis High School. There were over 300 competitors of all ages, sexes and skillsets who competed in both the gi and no-gi competition. Competition began at 10:30 am and ran for just over 6 hours.

The tournament was smoothly run, with 6 different stations on both sides of the large wrestling mat. There was very little delay between each match. The refereeing was top notch, I didn’t see any complaints from any of the competitors and they all displayed good sportsmanship after the bouts.

The highlight of the tournament were two superfights between high level blackbelts. The first was a match between Sean Bansfield (Pan Am gold medalist) and Don Richard (multiple Arnold Gracie champion). The match was very much a stalemate for the first 6 minutes, but all the excitement happened at the end. Down 3 points, Bansfield swept Richard into mount with 5 seconds left in the fight to neck out a dramatic victory.

The other superfight was a match between Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros (7x world champ) and Tyrone Gooden (Pan Am medalist). Comprido was the much bigger man but Gooden started strong by shooting in for a takedown to gain an early 2-0 lead. Comprido eventually swept him, but Gooden had excellent defense and never allowed Comprido to submit him, although Comprido did win a decision by a large margin.

BJ Nelson from Relson Gracie jiu jitsu in Columbus, Ohio won the Absolute Gi tournament which earned him a plasma screen TV for his efforts.


Brian Hemminger runs WorldExtremeFighter.com.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb

Tournament Review Tuesday: Manchester Open Jiu-Jitsu Tournament

by Jon Broster

Manchester, in north west England is famous for many things: Manchester United (the world’s most famous football team), Oasis (leading exponents of Brit-Pop music), it is home to a number of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies and is also the location of the British Amateur Wrestling Association’s headquarters, as well as being only a short distance from Wigan, the home of Billy Riley’s Snake Pit the legendary catch wrestling gym. As such, it is perhaps surprising that it has not held a BJJ competition over the last few years. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that this competition was organised by Gus Oliveira of Grab & Pull who is based in Brighton on England’s south coast, some 200 miles away. Gus has been running the Grab & Pull Brighton Open for some time now, so I was expecting a well run event.

Sugden Sports Centre is part of the University of Manchester and is a very pleasant venue – it was clean, airy and spacious enough for the number of competitors involved. The competition was run over six mats and started pretty much on schedule. Right from the start it became clear that although there were six mats, there were not six referees in attendance. In fact, anyone used to attending competitions held further south would have been surprised to see no black belts refereeing at all – the highest ranking referee was Oli Geddes who is a brown belt under Roger Gracie. The standard of refereeing was, however, good, with very few complaints about bad decisions. The lack of referees did mean that the event progressed a little more slowly than was expected and meant that there were no absolute divisions contested. The event was well organised, with relatively clear announcements and divisions running when the organisers said they would.

As is becoming the norm at UK competitions, the standard of competition was high, with some excellent displays of skill in all divisions. It was good too to see a large number of academies represented on the results table.

One thing that must be mentioned is the excellent medals, specifically designed and cast for the event – truly worth competing for. Overall, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and will almost certainly compete again next year.


Jon Broster trains under Victor Estima at Gracie Barra Midlands. He placed 2nd at senior middle heavy.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win a gi!

– Caleb

Tournament Review Tuesday: 2010 BJJ World Championship

Bruno Malfacine with Alliance teammates
Bruno Malfacine received by his Alliance teammates after his victory over Caio Terra for the 2010 rooster weight gold medal. All images courtesy Cohost Dan.

by Philippe Balmant

I traveled from New York City with the (mG)inaction team to Long Beach California for the 4 day Mundials event for my first time ever. I found myself in a feeling of Jiu-Jitsu Nirvana. When first arriving at the Walter Pyramid I was blown away. This looks like something out of the movie Stargate. I said to myself, “What a perfect venue to host the Mundials.” Once inside the electricity is running through my body. I felt a great festive atmosphere inside the Pyramid. This event marks my first time linking up with the entire Alliance team. Meeting Mestre Jacare and the General Fabio Gurgel to me was worth the trip alone. Watching the white/blue belts competing in 8 rings at the same time kept me looking everywhere.

The acai stand was my source of a much needed refreshing energy boost when one was needed. I limited myself to two acai bowls per day. One thing was obvious from jump street, that this energy I felt was only going to go up, till the black belt finals on Sunday exploded in full effect! From Friday through Saturday the matches were coming and going non stop. One thing I found hard was when there were 3 or 4 world champions fighting in different rings all at the same time, now that was crazy. When Sunday June 6th arrived, where there were 8 rings are now only two.

There is a connection at the Mundials, like to the BJJ life source we all share, within your own team, between academies from fighters to supporters. It’s a high dose of Jiu-Jitsu on its biggest platform with a sprinkle of a carnival type atmosphere. I fell in love with it. My best experience was meeting Rickson. My favorite moment was when my professor Marcelo Garcia won his 4th black belt Mundial title, even though the last 8 seconds had me on Skype with God. Yes!!!!

Great matches, great victories, gracious defeats, quick submissions, a back and forth war, by 1 point, by 1 advantage, or by judges decision, with BJJ history being made. Mega props to Roger Gracie. The 2010 Mundials had it all. By the end I had pretty much lost my voice, was running around on pure adrenaline and hollering at Caleb and Dan from The Fightworks Podcast. Podium, medals, pictures. That’s all folks. Except for the voice of Tony Torres still in my head saying, “You have now been DQ’d………” Nobody says it better than that guy.

A few hours later with a celebratory dinner for team Alliance, the General gives us our first toast in which he brings to light that today June 6th 2010 marks 28 years since the legendary Mestre Rolls Gracie passed away. With Alliance winning its 5th World title, and Mestre Jacare receiving his red & black belt, our entire Alliance team ended this amazing night with joy, laughter and happiness.


Philippe Balmant is a BJJ purple belt under Marcos Santos/Rigan Machado. He is currently a student of Marcelo Garcia, training in New York City.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb


The author and his Alliance teammates.

Tournament Review Tuesday: Tayta Submission Championships in Lima, Peru

Tayta Submission Championships
The Tayta Submission Championships in Lima Peru. All images courtesy Dev Kostal.

by Dev Kostal

I missed seeing (and competing in) the Mundials in LA this year. I am currently training in Lima, Peru at Sniper Fight Sports under black belt Leandro Torres. Sunday saw the second annual Tayta Submission Championships, held in the Nacional Videna (Sports Complex) in Lima.

Facility
The Videna is a sprawling complex that was originally built for national-level training for various sports in Peru. Over the past years, it’s seen its fair share of usage, and sadly, it shows. There are still dozens of soccer fields, and a bunch of other facilities, but the building they use for grappling (wrestling, BJJ, submission (how they refer to no-gi), judo, etc) is fairly worn.

Nonetheless, it was sufficient for the number of competitors there (probably 200 or so), and it provided the backdrop for some fantastic displays of submission wrestling. There are a total of 4 mats in the facility – 2 set up for wrestling, and 2 tatame that are used for karate and judo classes. In fact, when we got there (and through part of the tournament) a judo class was going on.

Level Of Competition
They had separate divisions for novice, intermediate, and advanced, as per usual, but in the end it seemed like the novice and intermediate divisions got kind of crushed together to make fights. Because of the size of the competition, I thought this was pretty realistic, and it guaranteed a couple fights for people to advance in a division.

I personally had never competed in no-gi before, and had entered this competition on a whim, just to get some good experience. Part of my apprehension was my complete lack of knowledge of foot and leg locks, which, as it turned out, was oddly prescient. For me, this constitutes a large part of the difference between gi and no-gi competition, as you see a few very significant modifications in strategy that can make a world of difference.

The weight divisions were set up every 5 kg, which isn’t exactly IBJJF standard, but it was fine. There were divisions at 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, and 90 kg.

Organization
If I’m being honest, it was pretty bad. I heard about the tournament word-of-mouth through some guys at the gym, and tried finding any information on google. Nothing whatsoever. I finally got an email address for one of the organizers from a buddy to sign up. When I emailed, though, the organizer said just to show up at 9 AM for the weigh-in. At face value, I’m okay with this, since NAGA does (or used to, anyway) at-the-door signups.

So about 10 guys and I showed up at 9, and we waited. Around 1030 the food guys showed up and started prepping. A guy went around then and started cleaning off the mats, too, which was a good sign. Around 1100 some of the organizers got there and set up the PA system, and we had weigh-ins. Weigh-ins also included hand-written signups.

About 1200 they started calling people up to the announcer’s desk to pay for their entrance. It was 20 Peruvian soles (about $7) to enter, so it’s tough to complain about that.

Shortly after that, the announcer started calling divisions to confirm names. He went through all the divisions except mine, conveniently. I went up and asked, then 2 other guys from my gym, including the coach, went up and asked about the 85 kg division. He waved us all off, saying he’d get to it. It didn’t inspire confidence, needless to say.

About 2 PM, fights finally started, 5 hours after I’d been told to be there. Again, for $7, it’s tough to be hugely critical, but the guys were touting this as a pretty high-level competition in Peru, which I don’t know that I’d agree with.

The rest of the tournament went okay, or at least as well as one could expect with one guy doing the announcing, the bracketing, and the timekeeping.

Officiating
Again, I’m trying to be fair here. This was, for all intents and purposes, a local competition, sort of an “in-house.” So they pulled “refs” from the guys that were there. A couple of the guys were really good, and obviously knew what they were doing. On the other hand, a couple were completely out of their element. Time was kept from the head table, not on each mat, so most of the refs had no clue how much time was left, and if fights went out of bounds, the clock just kept running. The reffing was really just ad hoc. It was, I suppose, sufficient for a friendly in-house tournament, but no more than that.

Additionally, I was astonished to see two of the refs out there in their shoes on the mats. I haven’t had too much of a problem so far with mat cleanliness, but that was a bit silly.

I’m unclear as to which rules they were actually following, but each match was five minutes, except the advanced division, which I think was 8. If a fight was tied after time was called, they had a 1-minute overtime. If it was still tied after that, it went to “first point.” Honestly, I couldn’t see a reason for the 1-minute round. Almost none of the overtime fights were decided in that period – they all went to the “first point” round.

My Matches
I had three fights in total. My first two fights went into overtime, and then to “first point.” In the finals, during a scramble, I got caught in a footlock that I never saw coming. Good job to my opponent.

Overall Thoughts
I was obviously the only gringo in the building, and as I cruised around in my American Standup fight shorts with a big American flag on the front, I was definitely the subject of some side conversations. That said, everyone was fantastically nice and accomodating for my terrible Spanish and my exceptionally average grappling.

At the end of the day, all problems with organization aside, $7 for a full day of grappling – and a whole new experience – wasn’t a bad deal. Yeah, I missed seeing the Mundials finals, but I saw some excellent grappling on display, and I met a bunch of fantastic, energetic guys all of whom just wanted to train and compete.



Dev Kostal is a wandering blue belt who began training under Daniel Thomas at Zeus BJJ in Monterey, CA. He is currently training with Leandro Torres at Sniper Fight Sports in Lima, Peru.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb

Tayta Submission Championships
The author in second place.

Tournament Review Tuesday: 2010 Gracie Invitational

women grappling
Female jiu-jitsu competitors at the 2010 Gracie Invitational in London. All images courtesy Seymour Yang.

by Seymour Yang

If you ever was entertained the notion that martial arts are a universally practised activity, that notion would be easily dashed if you attended the SENISHOW martial arts expo, where the Gracie Invitational was held, this weekend. Yes, SENISHOW is a massive event, possibly the biggest martial arts show in Europe, but the neighbouring exhibition hall hosted a computer games fan convention and as we entered the shared arena hallway, we were vastly outnumbered by the surreal sight of thousands and thousands of grown men and women dressed as all manner of ghosts, aliens, stormtroopers and, bizarrely, in one case, a tetris block!

The Gracie Invitational was held over two days – men’s white belts and some blues competed on the Saturday, all women’s categories, higher grades, no-gi and the show-piece event, the Absolute 1000, was held on the second day. I attended the second day.

Day two started a little late but once it did, the brackets raced through at lightening pace. Spread across six mats, with seating surrounding all four sides and a decent size holding area, the fights came thick and fast. The event was run by BJJ black belt Jude Samuels with assistance by my own instructor, Nick Brooks. This gave me the extra privilege of access to all areas for photography and extra close-up views of the fights. But to be honest, the dividers were so close to the mats that everyone was granted good views of all the fights.

women grappling
Dominique Vitry (left) fends off Paula Almeida’s open guard.

The rest of the exhibition hall hosted hundreds of martial art stands and displays all competing against one another for attention, which made for a very noisy and busy atmosphere. The loud, rhythmic capoeira display next to the BJJ arena added a particularly authentic flavour for much of the period.

One annoying thing I noticed was that in order to go to the loo, you had to leave the exhibition hall, and go to the main hall, which was a long way away. It just meant extra hassle especially if you were waiting for names to be called.

There were some amazing fights on the Sunday. Highlights for me were watching my team mate Dominique Vitry fight in the women’s absolute semi against a Paula Almeida, a larger Portuguese purple belt. Dominique won by a large points margin but not without the drama of escaping an impossible armbar! Dominique was awarded her much deserved purple belt straight after.

I also enjoyed watching brown belt Oli Geddes secure some impressive submissions on his way to winning gold in his category. Oli is fast making marks in the brown belt divisions much as he did at purple and blue.

women grappling
Luke Costello takes the back of Lucio as crowds watch on.

But the showpiece of the day belonged to the Absolute 1000 where winners of each purple, brown and black belt group would be allowed to compete against one another for a prize of £1,000. Here, we had the delights of watching seasoned black belts fight against smaller purple belts or two rival brown or black belts smashing ten bells out of each other in a bid to win the coveted prize.

Every match in this prize event was a brilliant display of BJJ at its highest. For me, the highlights included young purple belt Luke Costello against experienced black belt Lucio. Both fighters attacked with flair, immense skill and a good amount of vigour as several times they crashed into the crowd. Lucio won by a slim points margin, but there was no doubt among us that Luke Costello is a name to watch for the future. Another couple of fights that I really enjoyed watching involved the smaller guys. Purple belt featherweight Alain Pozo gamely stood his ground against the much heavier black belt Henrique Santana, and little pluma purple belt Mark Phung holding off a much larger brown belt. For me, watching these lighter guys fight put in such a spirited performance against bigger and higher ranked opponents was truly inspiring and shows just what a good idea the Absolute 1000 event is.

women grappling
Henrique Santana imposes his superior weight against Alain Pozo.

Unfortunately, the Absolute 1000 was unable to finish as the whole tournament over-ran and the exhibition hall had to close. So the last four or five players shared the £1,000 prize.

Since it began six or seven years ago, the Gracie Invitational has always attracted huge numbers of competitors, many of whom travel from overseas, and this year was no exception. Being sited within the confines of a massive martial arts expo, adds to the unique atmosphere of the event. I’d like to thank the organisers, the runners, the scorers and all the many many people who worked extra hard over the weekend to ensure that us competitors had a good time. I look forward to the next Gracie Invitational in two years time.


Seymour Yang is a purple belt from the Mill Hill Roger Gracie Academy and writes the BJJ blog www.Meerkatsu.com He picked up bronze at the Gracie Invitational.

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 2010, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!

– Caleb