Tournament Review Tuesday: 2009 California State Submission Grappling Championships

by Rowdy B.

On a slightly overcast day in December Built to Fight Industries/OTM held a tournament titled the 2009 California State Submission Grappling Championships at the Peterson Gym on the San Diego State University campus.

I first became aware of this tournament through an internet forum and followed the link to where only the most basic information was given. Information concerning weight classes and online registration were not available until 3 weeks before the tournament. When the information was finally posted it was all there and preregistration and payment through Pay-Pal went smoothly for myself.

The Friday before the tournament I went to Bikram yoga in the morning to sweat off the last pound or two to make my desired weight class. Competitors were allowed to weigh in at OTM stores on Friday when I arrived just 5 minutes after opening a line had already formed for weigh in and of grapplers wanting to register. Weighing in consisted of you filling out a release, confirming your payment and stepping on the scale for results of all your hard work. If you happened to be over your desired weight you were given time and a second chance to make it. They even had a place set aside for people to roll or work out to try and loose the weight they wanted. The staff was helpful, friendly and the line moved quickly with everyone’s questions being answered that I heard.

Finding the venue was easy and I’m thankful for being able to sleep in my own bed or not having to drive 3 hours to compete. With the number of schools in San Diego it surprises me there are not more jiu jitsu or grappling tournaments held. Parking was close to the event but with just one machine issuing tickets a long line formed quickly.

Having been to a few tournaments I was not concerned as I knew things would probably be delayed a bit and I was right. My division was scheduled to be called no earlier than 10:30AM but at that time they had not even begun to have the rules meeting.

Venue was a typical college gym and bleachers were pulled out on one side for spectating. Eight rings were in the middle and a warm up area on the far side. Things were logically laid out and things like the restrooms and such were easy to find. If you had a long wait or were bored there were very few product or food vendors to distract you. This was in not way an expo but rather all about the competition on the mats.
As soon as the rules were explained the matches and classes progressed quickly. The PA system was loud and clear so there was no questioning what was said. When no announcements were being made music was played at a very low volume and it almost totally disappeared in the background. Thankfully.

Divisions were called in the broadest sense to the warm up area, such as “all adult blue belt men” or “all masters white and blue belts” and once in the bull pen area individual classes were called out. From my observation the larger classes had about 9 classes while some, like mine, had only two. If you had a two person class they determined the winner by a two out of three format. I thought this was great as I normally am in a small class and the chance for a rematch was appreciated.

Your entire class was lead to your mat area and they worked through your bracket at that mat until it was finished and medals were awarded right there. The tournament may have been a little late in starting but once they started rolling it went smoothly and quickly for the roughly 200 people there.

Like most local tournaments the greatest number of competitors were in the white and blue belt divisions. I saw no displays of poor sportsmanship and even more amazingly I never once saw a competitor or coach arguing with a referee. I heard no complaints at all about the officiators calls.

The tournament had both gi and no-gi divisions. The gi classes went first and then the no-gi classes followed. I competed in a gi division only but it looked like many grapplers were using this opportunity to do both.

If the promoters were to take my advice for improvement I would offer the following suggestions:

  • Start on time. No matter what.
  • Get your internet presence up earlier.
  • Make the area for competition larger. Forty percent of the matches I saw ended up being stopped and restarted due to interference from a neighboring match.
  • I received and email stating I would get a rebate on my early full price registration in the form of a free spectator ticket. That never happened.
  • For a tournament to be called a “State Championships” I would like to see a series or some sort of qualifier.

Things I really enjoyed and felt were done right include:

  • Good choice of venue
  • Easy parking
  • Clear PA system with background music at a low volume. It’s a tournament, not a house party.
  • Great concern for safety and overall experience in the kids classes.
  • 2 out of 3 fights for small divisions
  • Very nice medals, team trophies and good t-shirts
  • Excellent referees
  • Good crowd control in keeping the area next to the mats clear and open for good spectating.

This also happened to be my son’s first tournament with his only having trained for 4 months. He had a very positive first experience and it looked as if all the kid and juvenile competitors did also. I’m thankful for a local tournament that ran well and had no major issues. If they hold it again next year we will be there again. Thank you OTM.

Rowdy B. trains at the Fabio Santos Jiu-Jitsu, and writes the blog Rowdy Style.

the author and his son
The picture is of the author (the short one) and his son, with second and first place medals, respectively.

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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