Wednesday, 27 February 2013

32 and 16 man Showdown Feb 24th 2013 Recap

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of refereeing and watching this unique event. The show was put on by Pecker'd Services with help from the OGA and sponsored by a whole bunch of cool local MMA / Jiu Jitsu businesses like Fight Planet and Grappling Industries.

Leading up to the event, Alex was promoting it on Facebook a lot, but I only knew a few people competing, and no one from my team was fighting, so I'll admit, I didn't pay a lot of attention to it. There were some very intriguing potential match ups though, so in the end I decided I was going to go watch. A couple days before the show I got a message from Alex saying he needed a ref comfortable with IBJJF Rules and asking if I could help out. I jumped on the opportunity because I am always looking to improve all aspects of my Jiu Jitsu game and also of course, to help the community out.

I got to work with my friend Pat Goulah on the refereeing for the day, He took care of the NoGi matches, which were following the Grapplers Quest Pro Rules, and I did the Gi matches, which mostly followed the IBJJF Rules. The exceptions to the rules were: No calf or bicep slicers, no heel hooks / knee reaping, no spine locks of any kind (even with a choke), and I feel like there is one more, but I can't think of it.

The other difference was that we were warning for some things that would be an instant DQ, for example: reaping the knee / turning the wrong way for an ankle lock, head-butting, trying to get out of bounds in a submission, and maybe some other things. It was a show, as well as a tournament, so we tried to keep it fair while keeping it entertaining. No one wants a fight to end because someone tried to get out of bounds.

I have edited this paragraph. Originally it insinuating some things that I did not mean, and was unfair to Andrew.  I sincerely apologize for that.

Unfortunately there was one incident that warranted an immediate DQ.   In the semi-final match between Darson and Andrew,  Darson ended up being spiked onto his head and neck.  It was a bad position to land in from an awkward position.  It caused a scuffle in the stands which was quite unfortunate.  Andrew apologized over the microphone, and kept it classy.    Something I did not do with the original version of this paragraph.  I cannot apologize enough for the tone of the original version.  GP has posted a clip of the incident on their site here

One of most impressive performances of the day came from Justin Steele, who, I believe, had the fastest submission of the day. He was the youngest, and one of the smallest competitors, and managed to make it all the way to the semis, lost to Arther, then beat last years defending champion by triangle to win 3rd place. His Jiu Jitsu was phenomenal and he was incredibly polite and classy all day long.

Darson Hemming was incredibly impressive as well. He won the nogi tournament, with a few subs, and some points. The final fight was a perfect case for small flexibility and technique verse size and strength. I'm not saying the other guy didn't have technique; he was pretty impressive in his own way,  defeating the largest competitor of the day in overtime in the previous match. Either way, Darson put on greats fights all day and it was fun to watch.

Finally, last but not least, Arther/Stanlee Zuka /Chandromahan, the guy with too many names, won the Gi 16-man division. Arther was also on the smaller end of the scale as far as competitors go, but those guys didn't stand a chance against his crazy style and inverted attacks. Also, his ankle locks were quite impressive. My ankle/foot was hurting just watching him snap them on everyone. Arther's biggest challenge was Darson in the 2nd round. This match was ridiculous, and ended up coming down to a decision. I chose Arther, and I stand by that choice. There is, of course, some discussion about it going on on Facebook, but there always is. Here is the video for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to comment there on who you thought should win and back it up with more than just "he was on top", "or he was aggressive".

Last but not least, I know, I already said finally, but I remembered one other fighter who showed a great attitude, great fighting spirit, and who is always a pleasure to watch. Mike A. the rooster weight, entered the no gi division. I think Alex and Rohit set him up with the 2nd smallest guy, but there was still a pretty obvious size difference. They had a killer match, with lots of leg lock attacks and knee bars and toe holds. It was crazy. Eventually the leg locks failed Mike and he ended up taking a nap from a arm triangle. Hats off to Graham Peckham for subbing the impossible to stop Mike!

The event did start a bit later than scheduled, but that was partially because a few people didn't show up, a few showed up late, so they had to work that all into the draw. We ended up having to drop the match length down from 10 minutes to 5 minutes after the first round because we did the math and we would have been there way past closing time if even 1/2 the matches went full time. We ended up back on schedule, and put them back up to 10 for the semis and finals.

It was a really neat event, and I am glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it. Hopefully next year I'll be able to referee and be a part of it again. I know I will do more to help promote and support it down the road because it's this type of event that helps spread jiu jitsu to the outside world. Oh yea, I didn't really talk about that. The showdown was part of a golf sale/show and sports show, where they had lots of local teams/leagues all together with interactive demos and information and things. It's a pretty cool concept, and having jiu jitsu showcased there exposed it to people who have never seen it and don't know what it's about.

So, congrats to the winners and to everyone who came out and threw down. It takes guts to enter an event with no weight classes and no skill divisions. Let's be honest, it takes guts to go out and compete no matter the circumstances! Great Job by everyone involved!

I'm heading to Boston this weekend for the IBJJF Open, and Chicago the weekend after that! There is also a small chance of Montreal for the FFC2 the weekend after that. Balance in life, who needs it? I was delusional to think it was for me hahah.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Grappling Industries Toronto Feb 16th 2013

This past weekend Grappling Industries made their second appearance in Ontario.  As you may or may not know, these guys hold one of the best tournaments in Montreal.   The quality, consistency, and the fact that they hold more then one event a year puts them arguably #1 in Quebec.

Their event had to scale outrageously for the ever growing Toronto market.   Both Toronto shows they have hosted were double or more the size of their Montreal events.  Most of the growing pains were worked out in their first event which was good, this one was even better.

No event is ever perfect though, as much as David Aguzzi would like to make his events one day. There will always be challenges, like parking, or traffic, or weird venue layouts.   This Saturday, parking was an adventure, as was finding the correct building on the Ryerson Campus.  Once we found the building, there were plenty of signs put up by Grappling Industries to point us to the gym.

Traffic was also an issue, the Gardiner was closed westbound in the morning, and both directions on and off in the afternoon.  This caused some serious delays.  It took us over 2 hours to get home, when it should have taken about 50 minutes.  There were a couple accidents because of the freak snowstorm that didn't help the situation as well.

Back to the tournament.  They ran 14 mats, and had enough referees to keep them running solid all day long.  The table workers seemed competent, for the most part. I didn't get to interact with all of them, as I was refereeing for most of the day, but I only heard one complaint.   One table worker was unaware of how to give the fighters appropriate breaks, so they ended up fighting with not enough rest.   I'm sure David will speak with them and teach them more thoroughly.  It's unfortunate for the competitors that didn't get adequate rest, but on the grand scheme of things, isn't major and will be resolved for the next event I'm sure.

The Gi portion of the event started 12 minutes late, which, for a bjj tournament is practically early, but I know David was unhappy about that.   It really wasn't the tournaments fault though. To many people showed up late because of traffic and parking.  It is not possible to get everyone checked in and weighed in on time, when people show up late.  To the competitors that showed up late:  Leave earlier, plan for traffic,  be respectful to the tournament organizers and your fellow competitors.     Gi finished up way ahead of schedule on a lot of the mats.  We had an break of almost an hour between gi and nogi on quite a few mats.

Nogi ran quickly and all the mats were wrapped up and done by 4:30pm.  This is really good time for a competition with over 330 competitors(470 if you count the people who did gi and nogi).  Not to mention the round robin format, which made for 4 fights+ per competitor.  Of course, not every single fight happened, a few people got injured in gi,and couldn't fight in nogi,  as well as  a few no-shows,  but there was still close to 1000 matches completed in the day. 

The venue, despite the parking, and traffic issues, was actually pretty cool for spectators.  There was a raised "bleacher" area above the gymnasium, so spectators had a GREAT view of the mats.   There was adequate room on the gym floor for the competitors and staff to get their jobs done as well.   I would like to see a warm-up area, but with limited gymnasium sizes, and 14 fighting areas, there really isn't anywhere to put one!

One thing I would like to see from Grappling Industries is larger rings/mat areas. I think this is the biggest thing that needs to be addressed down the road.  Of course bigger mat areas means more mats, a bigger venue, more barricades, and more transportation costs. But, it would bring the event up to the next level.  Even if they doubled the safety area between the rings, It would be a big improvement.

The great thing about this event, and all of Grappling Industries events,  is that they give back to the fighters.  They always have prizes like rashguards, gis, and gear for winners of divisions and absolutes from their amazing sponsors.  On top of that,  they give away trips to worlds and pans to a selection of the absolute winners.  On Saturday they gave away 6 trips!

  • White Belt Women - Chealsey Livingston
  • Blue+ Women - Roya 
  • White Belt Men  - Kevin Bacon
  • Blue Belt Men - Sean Kent
  • Purple Belt Men - Alessandro Roman
  • Brown/Black Men - Amir Yafawi
 These guys recognize that the white belts pay the bills, and reward them accordingly.  Which is nice to see.  Some people are like "White belts don't need/deserve trips". But, in the spirit of supporting those that support you,  there are more white belts at tournaments then probably all the other belts combined, so why shouldn't they get a chance for a trip?

 It was great to see Alessandro win a trip, after losing an insanely close, heartbreaking absolute final in Montreal the weekend before.   Amir also had a rough day in Montreal, and got to make up for it.  A trip to California isn't quite the same as a trip to Abu Dhabi, but I'm sure many of these winners were planning on getting to the worlds one way or another, so this will help them a lot.

 As a referee, I was put through the paces once again.  I got to referee all of the ladies gi matches, which I enjoyed.  Our community is a small one and I think its cool to be able to referee the ladies' and watch the fights close up.  There were some really great fights though out the both divisions.   The white belt absolute final was intense back and forth action that kept me on my toes.   The blue+ final was also very close, but much less intense.  It was a game of inches and ended up coming down to a decision(the score being 2-2, no advantages or penalties).   I took my time deciding who would win, and am still confident that I made the correct decision.

The decision lead me to  suggest to David that for absolute matches we use the 3 referee system.  It's not that I don't think any of the referees, including myself, are capable of making a decision in these situations.  It just leads to less controversy, and more confidence when you have 3 referees, all agreeing on the calls and the eventual winner.    I think this is something that many tournaments could be improved by taking up.  Especially for finals, or absolutes, or absolute finals, where there is more then just a medal on the line.

Amanda Bird was there taking great pictures as usual. She's a really talented, young photographer who I'm a big fan of.  I think the fact that she trains and competes helps her know when a great shot is coming up.   Check out a sneak peak of the photos she's taken, and like her page while your at it!

NeoJits was also onsite, making a highlight video of the event.  It was on youtube earlier, but he took it down to tweak it a bit.  Hopefully I will remember to put the link in here when it's back up.  In the mean time check out their facebook page for other cool videos and things.

Check out Grappling Industries on Facebook for all the results, information, and future events.

Coming Up In Ontario:
March 23rd - OJA  Niagara Open - Single Elimination
April 13th  - Red Star Open - No Idea what the system will be, but I do know the finals will use an ADCC like scoring system where the first few minutes of the match will be sub-only. Which is awesome.

In Montreal:
March 15th FFC 2 - Charity Super Fights.  Packed card of Jiu Jitsu Fights. Great Event for a great cause.
April 6th - SAU brings their sub only, double elimination style event back. I missed their last event, but it seems like a cool concept.
Mid - Late April Grappling Industries is likely hosting another event.  Date/Venue haven't been confirmed yet.

In Other places
March 3rd - Boston IBJJF Open
March 9th and 10th - Chicago Winter IBJJF Open
I am hoping to attend both of these.  No one in my division yet for Chicago though. I've got the time off work though, so a road trip is happening whether we like it or not lol.

Am I missing any events?

See you on the mats, in the stands or across the ring!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Montreal Abu Dhabi Pro Trials Feb 9th and 10th 2013

So, this past weekend we made the treacherous trip out to Montreal for the cursed Pro Trials.   I say cursed because this is the second year in a row that Ontario/Quebec was hit by a massive snowstorm when 90% of the competitors were on their way to the event.

We had originally planned to leave around 5am on Friday morning, but as the forecast for the storm got worse and worse, we opted to leave on Thursday evening instead.   We did all our running around, collected all the passengers and were on the road from Burlington around 9:45PM.   Ideally we could be in Montreal by 3:30am.

Let's just say the situation turned out pretty much as far from ideally as it possibly could.  Matt, Daniel, and Ken made it to Montreal for about 4:30am.  This is pretty good time, considering the snow, and blowing snow that we had to drive through.  Toronto was pretty messy, which was weird because it wasn't even really snowing at the time we went through. But the roads had not been plowed and cars were driving like maniacs.  We had a car spin out, cross all the lanes back and forth and end up facing us, stopped.  It was about 2 feet from our front bumper.  Thankfully I managed to stop in time, and get my 4-ways on to avoid being rear ended. 

We had a lot of car trouble, which I am not going to get into at this point. I am waiting to see how Hyundai Canada / Hyundai's Road side assistance / Mountain Hyundai handle the situation. If they take care of things, I will be nice about it. If they don't, well, I'll get into every detail about how things went down.   To keep things simple, for now,  We didn't get to our hotel until 5:30PM on Friday night,  in a rental car.  For the ride home,  Riccardo went with Matt, and Josh caught a ride home with Dainis.  Thanks again to Dainis for helping us out!  Josh had to get to work for Monday morning and it would have been really really cozy to put 5 people in Matt's car.   Alasdair stayed to keep me company, for which I am incredibly grateful.  It would have been lonely, boring, stressful and depressing to be stuck in Montreal by myself.

We stayed at the Auberge Universal, which is pretty much across the road from the tournament venue.   We opted for the convenience of walking to the venue for 2 days over being where the weigh-ins took place.    It's a decent hotel, with a pretty good restaurant and friendly staff.   We ate quite a few meals at the restaurant because we were lazy and tired and didn't want to go out in the snow any more then we had to.    Our room was clean and spacious enough.  Two things that were less then ideal though. Absolutely zero sound proofing for the bathroom, which was kind of funny, but a little weird and awkward to.   Also, the TV in our room was pretty crappy. It was a fine size, but it was old, and the picture was pretty warped.  Not a lot of channels either.  But, we weren't there to watch TV, we were there to do watch jiu jitsu!

Weigh ins were Friday night,  we had planned on getting to Montreal a few hours before they started so Ken and Josh could cut the last couple pounds and then be ready for the 2pm start to weigh ins.  Of course we ended up leaving way earlier, so Ken was able to weigh in early enough. I have no idea what they did while we were still on the road, but they got weighed in, and ate dinner at the restaurant at the Holiday Inn.   We got to weigh-ins a bit later, because Josh had to sit in the sauna for a bit.   It was pretty rough cutting weight after our ridiculously long and exhausting trip to Montreal but he made it a-ok.

We had dinner at the Holiday Inn Restaurant, and it was pretty good.  It's reliable and tasty there, not to expensive, and it was convenient.  Josh and I both got a piece of the brownie cheesecake and it was sooooo good.    This was the start of my complete abandonment of eating paleo.   It escalated quickly and I ended up eating Pizza Hut, cake, pancakes, hot chocolate, creamy girly drinks, and everything else under the sun that isn't paleo.  I felt like crap, but whatever.  I was stressed out, and options were limited and I like tasty food sometimes.  I'm back on track now.

Saturday morning we were disappointed to find out that the hotel restaurant didn't have a buffet for breakfast anymore.   We were really looking forward to it.  They had a decent breakfast though, and no one left hungry.   They have caramel spread in those little jam packets. So tasty.   They also have this nasty looking stuff called cretons.  It's pork and cream and looked pretty gross. No one ate it but apparently it's petty normal in Quebec.

So, onto the tournament.   Here are a few observations I made about it:
A couple things I noticed while watching the events.

1. They were being very strict on what was allowed under peoples gis.  I saw more then one fight stopped mid match, and the fighter had to take of the tights they had under their pants.  I really don't see how tights would affect a match, but they were very strict on that.

2.  They were being very strict on belts being tied.  A few times fights were stopped in the middle just to tie belts back on.  Nothing like killing the momentum. I saw a few fights that the re-starts from this went badly and guards were past or people were swept that I am certain wouldn't have happened without the restart.

3.  They were NOT being picky about gi sleeve length.  It looked like a few people were wearing 3/4 length sleeves, or short sleeves.  It's weird to be so picky about things that don't matter, and then allow some of those gis to be worn.

4.  The quality of refereeing was all over the place.  I know refereeing is a hard job, I've experienced it.  I try not to give other referees a hard time, but man,  some of the calls that were made really made me scratch my head.  There were several decisions that I was wondering if i was watching the same fight!  That being said, there were also some very good decisions made and a lot of very tricky fights to referee. 

5.  There was an unusual amount of gi rippage happening.  I saw at least 5 pairs of pants ripped in one day.  Those are seriously weird odds.  Normally you hear about 1 or 2 pairs in a long day tournament.  This weekend was not long days.  Not even 300 competitors over 2 days.   I'm curious what the underlying cause is for this.  People wearing their favourite gi?  People being extra intense with their grips?  Who knows.

6.  Overall the tournament was very well run.  It ran on schedule,was smooth sailing as far as I could see and generally 10000X better then then New York Trials.

As far as our team was concerned:

Alasdair won his first match by submission with only a bit of time left.  He had the guy in a triangle for a while, but he got out.  In the end he took the back and got a RNC.  It was a great match to start the day.   He drew his good friend Dan Davis for the second round and a very close first few minutes of the match ended with Dan taking home the win.   I imagine it was pretty weird fighting someone your as close a friend as those to are.  I mean, I'm friends with a lot of my competition, but I never train with them or anything.

Josh had a really good, low scoring fight with Nihad from Gringos,  who ended up wining the division, and taking 2nd in the light weight absolute.  I think Josh has made it his new life mission to beat Nihad while they are both still blue belts.

Matt  went 1-1 in his weight class, placing 3rd and 1-1 in the absolute, which put him in 5th I believe.  He won his first fight quite handily and in his second fight he was ahead, but it was clear the cold/flu had sapped his energy.   In the absolute Matt won his first fight in a dominate fashion and then faced a very tough Nathan Dos Santos from Toronto BJJ.  These guys have fought a couple times and it was a great match.  Matt's gi ripped 1/2 way through the fight and in the end Nathan came out with the win.  He went on to place 2nd in the Blue belt heavy absolute.

Daniel fought in the middle weight division, which isn't his usual division.  He didn't realize that it was no-gi weigh-ins the day before.  He was significantly smaller then his competition, but still managed to put on a great fight.    He won his first fight quite handily.   In the second fight, his gi ripped, and he ended up losing a tough battle.

Ken won his first fight as well, with a score of 17-0.  Then he came up against Brody from BTT (Alpha MMA).  They had a very eventful match and Brody came up ahead on points.   I would love to see these two fight again sometime.   Brody ended up winning the division, and winning the white belt absolute!   In the Absolute Ken faced a kid we all call Bocek because he looks a bit like Mark Bocek.

Overall, a pretty solid day for the team. Not amazing results, but certainly not bad.  Everyone fought their hardest and represented well. 

Overall, the level of Jiu Jitsu at the tournament was outstanding.  I think the purple belt divisions were especially stacked.  There was no easy way to the finals, and every fight on Sunday was a close match.

 I would have liked to have seen some more girls out.  It seemed like there were less then last year.  There was 0 white belts, which is almost understandable, considering they are lumped together with all the blues, in a single absolute. But It's not unheard of for an experienced white to beat blues,  2 years ago a while belt won the whole thing!  I can totally understand why there are so few trips for the ladies, when they just don't show up.    I really liked that they had more weight classes, I thought this would draw more women out, but I guess the fact that you still had to win a single absolute kept a lot of the white/blue away.

Here are the pictures I took.  If you know any of the people in them that aren't tag, please suggest the tags for me! 

I'm looking forward to next year's trials. I'm not going to have a concussion, and I'm going to be in good shape for it.  Hopefully I'll be able to cut for the -132 division and It'll be fun.

This weekend is the Toronto Grappling Tournament.  We've got 10 people competing, so that should be a good time.  I will be refereeing again, so I won't be able to watch my team mates :(   That is the downside to contributing to the sport I suppose. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

9 Weeks Ago My Brains Were Scrambled...

I still don't remember a lot of details about Grapplers Quest that day or the few days after.  I've got massive holes in my memory around that time.  I think I have done some permanent damage to my brain though, as I am still having mental symptoms to this day.

 Physically I think I've recovered.   I trained pretty hard last night, did the full warm up, did all the technical drills, played king of the hill, and did a few rounds of rolling.   My partners were all very careful about not smashing various limbs into my head so I didn't re-injure myself.   I'm pretty sure they were taking it pretty easy on me, and that is OK at this point.

My cardio is shot.  Completely Destroyed. Ruined. Non Existent. 2 months of very little to no physical activity will do that to a person.  I had to let people go ahead of me during king of the hill a couple times b/c I was so tired.  I don't normally let myself do that, but when I'm very tired the chance of injury is much higher, so I'd rather not just come back from the concussion to ruin a knee or something.  It's going to take a while to get my cardio back up to snuff.  I should probably go running or something, but I think I will focus on Jiu Jitsu cardio for now.

I thought I would be more subconsciously scared of rolling/drilling and getting my head hurt, but once I slapped hands with my partners It didn't even cross my mind.  I think this is due to, for a large part,  how awesome my team mates are. I know that they will be more careful to not hit me in the head, then I will be to not put my head in stupid places. 

I haven't had a concussion-y headache in a couple of weeks, so that's pretty good.  Those were pretty annoying,  haven't gotten nauseous either.  I used to kind of space out and not process things fairly often and that hasn't been happening nearly as much lately either.  All signs of a good recovery.

I still find myself forgetting things, and it seems like sometimes my reactions are slower then they used to be (physically and mentally).  Also, It seems like I am way more dyslexic then I used to be, especially when I'm tired.  Writing things down I put letters in pretty strange orders sometimes and pretty often the sentences that come out of my mouth are quite scrambled.  I know I did this before the latest concussion, but it seems like it happens significantly more now.   I think I'm still more easily irritated then I used to be as well.  I haven't had any sit in the middle of the kitchen floor while trying to bake episodes though.   This could just be because when I'm not active I get extra moody because of lack of endorphins and all that crap.

 I'm planning to make my competition comeback in March, Hopefully the Chicago Open, and maybe Pans. We shall see how the next couple weeks go.  In the mean time I am heading to Montreal this weekend to support 5 guys(Alasdair, Josh, Daniel, Ken, and Matt) from Pura who are competing at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials.  This should be a pretty good event. It's well run, and brings out a lot of top contenders.  I'm looking forward to watching these guys, and a lot of my other BJJ friends compete.  It'll be tough to watch them, and see who will win the division I was supposed to be in (my money is on my friend Alison Trembley), but It'll still be a good experience.  I will also be refereeing at the next Toronto Grappling event.  Maybe, just maybe, I will compete there to try to win a trip to pans. Would save me a lot of money.  Though, last time I fought to earn/save money it didn't turn out so well for me.

See you on the mats!