Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Grapplers Quest - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Saturday December 1st brought Grapplers Quest to Ontario for the second time in 2012. The first was June 23 in Toronto. This time around it was in the booming metropolis of London, Ontario, also known as really far away from the major population hubs in Ontario. Probably not the best choice of city, but far from the worst. It did bring some people up from the States, who probably wouldn't have made the drive up to Toronto. I don't think anyone flew in, because London's airport is very small, and very expensive to fly to. Toronto probably could have gotten some more wide spread attendance because of it's airport.

I will break up this review/report into 3 sections, like the title implies... The good: things that were good about the tournament, things that I liked, things that other people liked, and things that didn't make me curse the sport. The bad: things that weren't so good that I, or my friends noticed. The ugly: things that were really bad.

The Good
  1. The mats: They were high quality tatami mats, and the fight areas were large enough. They didn't come apart, and they weren't crappy wrestling mats. I absolutely HATE fighting on wrestling mats. I can't stand the way you sink into them a bit. I feel like my knees are going to get blown out anytime someone tries a foot sweep or even a sweep from guard. Any tournament that uses Tatami gets a bonus * in my books. 
  2. The whole computer system: They used Splitdraw and used all parts of it. The weigh ins recorded everything and put you in the right division. In addition to that, each mat area had a laptop that worked as a score board, and kept track of who won what matches. They also had a monitor on the table listing the orders of the matches so people would know when they were up. Finally, each mat had 2 monitors attached to the laptop for scoreboards, facing opposite directions. These showed the score, and which fighter was which colour. All very cool and very helpful for the competitors.
  3. Sponsorship Prizes for the advanced absolute divisions, including the ladies. It's really nice to see tournaments giving equal prizes to the ladies, even though there is so few of us. It's strange to me, how few people (men and women) signed up for the absolutes at GQ though. Some of them were packed, but the ladies divisions were very small. There was a lot of beginer women out though, which gives me some hope for the future of the sport.
  4. They collected food for the London Food Bank. I love events that try to help out with the community. Women competed for free if they brought a bag of non-perishable food! I think that's a great initiative, and I think it did help bring out more ladies. I think there was more female competitors out than at any tournament in Ontario in 2012.
  5. Round Robin for small divisions. Divisions of 2 did a best of 3, divisions of 3 did a round robin, and I believe divisions of 4 also did. I'm not sure about divisions of 5, but bigger than that got into the single elimination. There was always a fight for 3rd as well, instead of 2 bronze medals. It's nice to see them realizing that people don't want to pay 85 or 100 dollars for 1 fight if they have a small division.
  6. The podium area. They had a nice stage setup, and the hardware is high quality. They had a guy working the camera and had bright lights so everyone's pictures should turn out well.
  7. The venue was nice, spacious, and pretty easy to find. There was enough sitting room, and plenty of room for all the vendors that were there. Also, there was food available from the venue's food places all day which is very important.
  8. The Medics. They were very qualified, quick to respond, and took great care of the injured athletes. Trust me, I was in their capable hands twice. and saw them take care of a few other people while I was there. Thanks Jon the Medic! 
  9. Lots of sponsors and vendors around the venue offering a wide variety of goods for sale. Was great to see so many brands out supporting the event.

The Bad
  1. Started around 2 hours late. Now, this was due to a few things.
      1. Allowing same day registration
      2. People showing up really really late
      3. Not enough pens at the registration area
      4. Having too many divisions so they had a lot of lonely people that had to be sorted out.
  2.  A shortage of table workers and referees. They had to use some referees who did not have a lot of jiu jitsu experience. This caused quite a stir in some of the matches as they were unfamiliar with many of the positions and scoring opportunities. This was caused by refs not showing up due to sickness and unforeseen circumstances, as well as me getting a concussion in my match, leaving them short a referee. This is a really common problem at events and one that needs to be addressed. I think the first step would be to encourage competitors to volunteer by allowing them to compete for free if they volunteer for a set amount of time. This opens up a huge pool of volunteers.
  3. A lack of intermediate and advanced women competitors. Now, this is clearly not the events fault. They even let us fight for free. This is on you ladies. What more can you ask them to do? Get your butts out to these events.

The Ugly
  1. The cut on my head and the concussion that went with it. Jiu Jitsu is supposed to be "The Gentle Art". But there was nothing gentle about my last no gi match where I sustained the cut and head injury, or the Gi match after that which I should never have gone into. I have no recollection of the Gi match I competed in that day. I lost... on points I think. I don't even know if the score was close, I have no idea. I think I have video of it...I'll have to check my camera.

So, that's that. Hopefully Grapplers Quest, and all the tournaments can learn from all the great things, and the less than great things that happened in London and together we can all make competition in Ontario better and better.

A little bit more about my experiences in particular:
As I suspected, there wasn't originally anyone in my advanced absolute, or purple and up absolute. I was a bit surprised, because I saw some pretty intense looking ladies walking around, but I guess they were all in the beginner and intermediate divisions. I talked my friend Tee into the advanced absolute so I would have a match, and then Chealsey's coach moved her up from intermediate absolute to advanced.

I had a lot of fun in the match with Tee. She's like 115lbs soaking wet so I tried to keep it a technical match. She snuck in a pretty tight toe hold which had me quite concerned and i finally managed to get a tight arm bar with about 10 seconds left.

The match with Chealsey was not fun. I started out fighting very calm and trying new things like knee bars and wrist locks. Chealsey came for business though and was very intense and tenacious, and rough. she took my back a time or two, and the score ended up very close 7-5 or something like that with 30 seconds left, when the ref finally noticed I was bleeding profusely from my forehead (from one of several knees/elbows/heels to the head). Once I was finally cleaned up and taped up, we tried to restart, but there was some confusion about our position, she thought we were in 1/2 guard, I thought we were in guard. Well, the reff listened to her and her coach, instead of me and the rest of the crowd. But I digress, I managed to keep a hold of her leg for the last 30 seconds and get the win.

I headed over to the medic after wards because He wanted to assess the cut and my brain. After about 25 minutes of questions and forms he concluded that I MIGHT have a concussion and that I should get stitches in my head. I, like the idiot competitor that I am, disregarded his advice and competed in Gi anyway. like I mentioned before I have no recollection of the fight, other than feeling very week, disoriented and unwell. I lost and was unable to pick myself up off the mats when it was over. I was so weak, and dizzy. I was eventually brought over to the medic area and re-assessed. I did much more poorly this time around and was told much more firmly not to compete and not to referee or work a table the rest of the day.

I will be off the mats for at least a week, probably 2, and then will have to be very careful working my way back up to proper training levels. Light cardio only first(after at least a week of no exercise), slowly increasing the intensity, then maybe light drilling, no resistance, and light weight lifting. Won't be rolling for probably a month. If I try to get back to it too fast, I'll just make it worse. This is probably going to be one of the most difficult injury recoveries I have had to deal with because once the cut is healed, I will have no real physical indicators of the injury and It'll be hard mentally to pace myself and not get to depressed when I cannot train.

I'll see you from the side lines.

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