by Andrew Kuiland
Our team was looking for a good local tournament to help build some momentum for the upcoming Pan Ams. We found the Ouano Invitational online at iCompete.org. This was a fledgling inaugural tournament put on by some of the guys from the BJJ Revolution Team so we thought it would be perfect for what we wanted.
As I signed up I noticed that the Masters division only had 4 weight classes which I thought to be clever since I am happier to have more people in a bracket with me than not. I did think to myself though how sorry I felt for those in the next class up from me that was 200lbs +. After enrolling I realized that the weigh ins for this event would be taking place the day before at one of two locations. This can sometimes be nice but for me it meant I had to go a little out of my way on a Friday night, while I was so solidly in the middle of my weight class that it would be hard for me to miss weight. My teammate also had to go weigh in for the over 200lbs when he is a very comfortable 260lbs. Alternatively we were presented with the option of weighing in at the tournament before 9am, but we were not scheduled to fight until after 2pm. We did weigh in the night before and all went well.
The day of the fight was a beautiful Saturday in Southern California. It was finally back up to a nice 75 degrees and sunny after a few weeks of gloom and rain. Yes this was a going to be a good day to fight. As we pulled up to the event everybody’s faces seem to reflect the same feelings.
While checking in the brackets were posted outside on the table. I noticed that they had further combined some brackets. They put the masters cruiser and heavy weights together. This meant that the weight class was now 180lbs +. I questioned this, not because I didn’t understand it was a smaller tournament, but because I was now in the same division as my 7’ 260lb teammate. I did offer to them that had I thought this would be the case I would have happily competed in the adults light heavy as I have done many other times. The organizers were very understanding and cool about the situation but couldn’t fit me in my normal weight class. They did offer me to fight in the Adults Super Heavy as a consolation as well as leaving me in the master’s bracket with my teammate, so I accepted.
As I wound my way into the building I could see that MT SAC had an older gym, but it was going to be plenty spacious for the event. In the center of the area were slightly older tattered looking wrestling mats with improvised tape to separate the fighting areas. I wasn’t sure about the surface but the space allotted for each match was generous and the coaches were provided seats at mat side for coaching their team.
There were fixed bleachers on either side of the gym so a good view was guaranteed to all. There was also plenty of seating for the spectators to keep comfortable, which suited my wife and kids nicely. I was also told after the fact that snacks were cheap and the BBQ was good too.
We had arrived just in time to see the black belts fighting, so I sat back and took in some good matches while I waited for the blue belts to be called down to the warm up area. I thought it was great seeing the purple, brown and black belts scheduled before the white belts, I still can’t figure out though why the blue belts would be last though. I know its just not the way its normally done, but it seems like giving deference to the higher ranks in order might be a great sign of respect.
We were scheduled to fight as blue belts at 2pm and were finally called down to the bull pen at about 3pm. 1 hour behind schedule though seemed pretty tolerable to me though given that it was the end of the day. Once called to the warm up area I only had to wait about 15 minutes or so until my first match so I was quite happy about that. I also found that the wrestling mats were pretty soft and was plenty happy to fight on them over the normal tatami mats or rubber puzzle mats despite the appearance.
The fights carried on in an efficient manner and the officiating was fair and accurate. I was sad to see that a couple people did get injured and there wasn’t much proper medical attention around to tend to them. In one instance a competitor turned out to be a fire department emergency medical technician and offered his services to get the guy set. Fortunately though nobody got hurt really bad so this was not too much of an issue.
Overall I was pretty pleased with tournament and if held again next year I will happily attend again. I would hope though that the event planners grow from this first time around and fine tune the weigh ins and weight classes a little better.
Andrew Kuiland is a blue belt at Global Jiu-Jitsu in Costa Mesa and trains under Professor Marcelo Carvalho and Master Joe Moreira.
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.