by Jim McCormick
With less than a minute left and winning by two points, I decide to “posture up” from the guard. It turns out this is an awful decision as my opponent reverses his guard and slickly mounts me. I lose by two points, 4-2.
Exhausted, I sit in the chair next to the scorer’s table and reflect upon my first foray into Brazilian Jiu-jitsu competition. The sport, even at the white belt level, is much faster than I’d imagined; my opponent’s pressure much more constant than I’d considered.
This was last weekend, July 11th, at The Cherry Hill Challenge Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament run by The Good Fight. As it was my first competition, this may be as much a review of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournaments in general as it is to this tournament.
My experience didn’t start well. I was unable to register online. After filling out all my information, I got a pop-up warning telling me that my age was outside the limits of this tournament. There was no bracket for me to fight in.
The tournament flyer announced an “Executive Division, 35 and over.” I’m 45-years-old.
I called the Tournament Director who was friendly and very helpful. After sheepishly telling me that I was too old, we decided to lie about my age and say that I was born five years earlier.
But even that didn’t work out as there were not enough fighters that age to fill out a division. I, without being notified, was lumped into a bracket of a couple dozen 160 to 170 pound 20-somethings. Which I don’t mind; I spar with these guys every day in class—I’d just have liked to have been told or even given the option of a refund as they didn’t have what I signed up for.
Signing in and weighing in was quick and efficient. After weighing in, I was lead into the “Sport Court” of The Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club.
The “Sport Court” is little more than a basketball court with padding along the walls. (You can see it here) The room was bright and clean but small for an event like this:
There was no seating for spectators—my wife stood on the hardwood floor for over four hours. Spectators had to jockey for position to find a spot where they could watch the fights. Even then, much of the time they had to stand three or four deep and had obscured views of the matches. At between $10 and $15 for tickets, I expected much better accommodations for them.
There was also no warm-up area for the participants (though some of us found an unused calisthenics room that we quietly stretched); and no place for fighters to put their stuff–gi bags were strewn all over the event room’s floors.
The matted competition area was tighter than I expected. Each fight square directly abutted the next with no buffer room. The “Sport Court” just wasn’t long enough. Many competitors crossed into the other fight squares.
That said, the referees did a wonderful job making sure that the wrestlers were safe and did not interfere with adjacent fights.
I got there early enough to watch the children compete. The fast actions of one of the referees saved a 12-year-old from injury. The little boy was caught in a vicious straight armlock that came on quicker than the young man could tap. The referee jumped in and put pressure on the arm so that it couldn’t be hyper-extended .
Later, that same referee came under fire from several competitors as not giving points that they thought were deserved. Being a rookie, I had no opinion on the matter other than, in answering their questions, the referee was professional, unwavering, and direct.
Prior to the actual competition, announcements were made via loudspeaker. They were clear and direct. Brackets were posted on a wall—though fighters only found that out by word-of-mouth—an announcement would have been nice.
Prizes were samurai swords and awarded for all three places. Everyone with a sword left with smiles on their faces.
The competition at the white belt level was very deep – but there were few advanced belts beyond the blue belt level. I’d have liked to have seen the tournament draw more advanced practitioners.
The other nice thing that I understand is different from other competitions is that The Good Fight there is a consolation round. Therefore, each competitor is guaranteed to fight at least two fights. This alone is enough to get me back next year.
All-in-all, I thought the people at The Good Fight ran a nice competition. My biggest complaint was that there really wasn’t much room for the spectators and nowhere for them to sit. As a fighter, I’d have like a place to store my gear, a warm-up area, and little more mat room during the match.
I had a good time and look forward to trying this again. Even if I have to fight 20-year-olds again.
Jim McCormick trains at the Madama Jiu-jitsu in Toms River, New Jersey.
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. Through the rest of 2009, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!
The opinions expressed in Tournament Review Tuesday pieces do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast.