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!

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