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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The author in second place.