Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Grappling Industries: Summer Havoc July 20th Recap

This past Saturday was Grappling Industries fourth foray into the GTA.  The event was held at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto and had somewhere around 300 competitors.

They've gotten the format down pat, and it's all very smooth these days.  They have weigh ins on Friday night, and Saturday morning with gi weigh ins closing 15 minutes before the start of the competition and nogi weigh ins closing 15 minutes before the start of the nogi.

Some of the things that were excellent about the day:

  • Started on time ran on / ahead of schedule and was pretty much done by 4pm.  Most mats were done by 3:00pm
  • The registration / weigh in process was quick and easy.  Especially compared to past events where there was huge lines for registration due to the OGA paperwork.
  • They gave away 8 trips to big IBJJF tournaments. Now, these 8 trips were not worth as much as some of the ones they have given out in the past, but with 8 of them, I'm quite certain the total value was the most they've given out.
  • People are starting to understand the system and are at their mats ready to go,  making the whole day smoother.
  • There was a good size warm up area
  • There were more masters out then at previous events, a trend I hope continues.
  • The white belt ladies division was a decent size, and very competitive.
  • The blue and up ladies -141 was the biggest I've ever seen.  

Some things that were less then excellent about the day:
  • my shoulder really hurt by the end, I was careful with it, making the fighters switch sides to raise their hand and stuff, but it still got sore.
  • I had competitors from the mat beside me come onto my mat 3 or 4 times, twice they ran into me and/or my fighters.  The mat area or safety area NEEDS to be made bigger somehow.
  • Yacinta was the only one in the +141 blue and up divisions, so she didn't get too many fights.  She still got to fight the winner of the -141 for the trips though, so at least she got some fights(and prizes).
  • at least 3, and I think 4 referees who were scheduled to work did not show up on very short, or no notice.  This lead to us having less breaks, and the promoters having to use backups.
  • Coaches and Athletes STILL don't know the rules.  Seriously people.  RTFM.  
    • I got yelled at for not giving sweep points when someone reversed side control
    • I got yelled at for DQ'ing  for a heal hook.
    • MANY competitors had no idea what a knee reap was and that they were doing it
    • I got yelled at for allowing white belts to ankle lock. (News flash. they are LEGAL)
  • The medics did an pretty good job. It's a hard job. But there were several times they had to be called multiple times to get their attention.  Perhaps they need to have more so that they don't end up attending to to many athletes and not being able to keep an eye on the floor.
  • There were several times throughout the day when fighters were called a whole bunch of times, and they weren't ever at the event.  It would be good for the organizers to figure out a way to quickly/easily go through the weigh-in list and cross reference the draws and make notes of who never showed up.  This would save some headaches for the table works.
  • They use IBJJF GI weight classes, but allow you to weigh in with out your gi on. I like that they use the standard weight classes, but I think it would be better if they used the nogi weight classes because they don't have a weight allowance built into them.

Pura had a pretty small team out to the event. With it being summer and all not a lot of people are around on weekends.   Here is how everyone did:
  • Brayden: 4-0 in Gi, all wins by armbar  for Gold! This was his first Nogi competition and he had a great showing winning silver.
  • Kyle:  His first competition and he went 3-1 in Gi and I believe 2-2 in nogi.  Great work for his first time out hopefully he is hooked now :)
  • Eric: 2-1 and one default win in Gi.  This was his first time back competing in a very long time so it was good for him to work off the ring rust and now he is ready to really kick ass at the Toronto Open.
  • Stephen went 3-2 looking like a beast.
  • Jon went 2-2 in gi, putting 1 guy to sleep (that's 10 now).  He entered in the advanced for nogi, which was a bit silly,  and had a bit of a bad time against the killers David Mosleh, and Arther.
  • Alasdair went 2-2 in gi.  winning silver.
  • Greg had a rough day, going 0-2 against a younger, larger guy.  He did some great things in his matches though, and is steadily making his way down to super heavy where he is going to ruin a lot of peoples days.
The competition medal results can be found on the grappling industries website.  Pictures from the event can be found on their facebook page and videos will be up on youtube soon.

On a completely unrelated note, I should get the results from the MRI today.  I won't really know exactly what they mean, but it's progress.  I have an appointment with Dr. Levy to go over them on August 7th.  It's been pretty annoying the last few days.  One day it will feel fine, the next it will feel awful.  I imagine it's probably because it feels ok, so I move it more, and that pisses it off.

I guess that is all for now.  The IBJJF Toronto Open is in a week and a half, registration closes this Friday. So get on that.  It should be a pretty excellent event.   We are heading to Montreal for the Grappling Industries event on August 17th as well and after that is another grappling industries event in Toronto, and then the OJA GTA Classic both in September.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this!!

There are some women's open mats coming up in the Province as well!   This is pretty awesome, and I wish I could participate in them.  You ladies should all check them out.  

Check out this facebook group for details and information on ladies jiu jitsu in ontario.

THIS SUNDAY in Toronto
Women's ONLY OPEN MAT on Sunday July 28th at 10am at Action & Reaction MMA.

August 25th in London:
See the facebook event for details.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

OJA Sub Only July 13th 2013 (recap)

Today was the OJAs first sub only tournament.  They were supposed to have one in the fall(i think, maybe winter), but it didn't happen, trouble with finding a venue, scheduling, and who knows what else made it not happen.  It seemed like this one wasn't going to happen either.  It wasn't announced/confirmed util about 6 weeks before it, and information and details were slow to come out and sparse at best.

It was small, probably only about 50 competitors, but the ones that showed up fought hard and fought well.  There were no ladies fights (other then a couple kids who were in mixed divisions), and no brown or black belts.   The biggest division I think had 5 or maybe 6 competitors in it.  The ladies mostly showed up last weekend to the mat militia sub only show, it was free, and announced way before this one.

The tournament started on time, and ran on schedule and ahead of schedule.   There was 6 mat areas, but we probably could have finished the tournament just as quickly on 4.  There was a lot of down time on the mats due to the divisions being small, and the posted schedule fairly spread out.  It wasn't intolerable, and was actually a nice pace.

The kids divisions showed some great jiu jitsu.   They were only allowed to do arm bars, and chokes where the referee can see the other kids face, like RNC, triangles not pulling on their head, collar chokes, and so on.  Not a lot of kids came out, and I can totally understand kids(and their parents/coaches) not wanting to do the sub only format. I think they should probably not have kids divisions next time. That being said, I refereed Ever vs Liam, and these kids showcased amazing jiu jitsu, great cardio, and great heart.  I was really impressed with both of them.  There were also some younger kids on the match beside us that showed amazing transitions and flow. The future of BJJ in ontario is very bright!

There were some amazing fights in the blue and purple divisions to.  I didn't get to watch a lot of the white, so I can't say for sure.  But I did ref one between two guys who obviously knew each other well. They had a good fun match, probably should have focused a little more and chatted less. But it was cool to see the comradeship and whatnot.  I could have gone without the coach(err friend, who really knows if anyone actually considers Mike a coach) heckling and whatnot, but whatever.

The blue belt absolute had some crazy matches.  Myles triangled Sean Kent quickly in the 2nd round and everyone was in shock.  Myles has a ridiculous guard and I hope, for the sake of all the up and coming blue belts, he gets his purple belt soon.  The podium for the blue absolute was gold/silver closed out by Kevin and Kofi from gringos, with the bronze medals going to Matt from pura and Myles from united.

The purple absolute podium looked like this:
1 Alasdair Barr Pura BJJ
2 Greg Deniken Matador BJJ
3 Adam Blackadder Matador BJJ
3 Lonnie Warner Gracie Humaita

There was even a white belt absolute! Which the OJA doesn't usually do, but did anyway, I think because it was a sma turnout and we had time or it.   Here are the white belt winners:

1 Donnie Mckenzie BTT Canada
2 Dean Wheeler Kumo Jiu Jitsu
3 Mark Riley Bruckmann MMA
3 Nick Routier Gringo BJJ

Here are the complete results.

There were a few hiccups, of course.  This was the first event of it's type in ontario.  There have been other sub only events.  But they were invitationals, or open weight only, or more like shows.  This was the first tourament, open to everyone, with divisions and whatnot.  There were some complications which deciding and sticking with how long the matches would be, but it all worked out in the end.  If the silly boys had just listened to me when I said the original way they were doing a few things was unfair and didn't make sense, it would have saved me some headaches and probably others. But hey, it all worked out in the end, and no adult fights ended in a draw.  (any that DID have a time limit didn't hit them).

I think one of the really important things that kept the double dq from happening and got us home on time was the fact that you could lose by stalling.   We called staling pretty quick, and they stacked up like they normally would in a regular match. So there was no stalling out to rest or keep a dominate position.   I don't think anyone actually got dq'd for stalling, but knowing it was possible kept people active.

My team mates had a pretty good day.  We only had 3 guys out, but they managed to place second in the team rankings!   Yes, it's a small tournament, and gringos, at #1 was way ahead. but still,  there were a bunch of teams with the same or more competitors.

That's about it for this event, it was a short day, so it gets a short post!

Next weekend is the grappling industries summer havoc.  Round Robin, early weigh ins, and smooth running make this an event worth showing up to.  They did raise the prices, but there is no sanctioning/organization fee so it's basically the same as it was before.  They are giving away a bunch of trips to 2 different ibjjf events. Mostly for the guys, but 2 for the girls.  All you ladies need to get out to that event because it's such a good opportunity to get lots of matches, and maybe win a trip to a cool tournament in a new city.  I hate that I can't fight, but refereeing is going to give me more then enough trouble with my arm as it is.  Today wasn't to bad, because there was no points to give out, but when i raised one guys hand with it, he was excited and swung it way up fast, and that hurt like a mofo.  

Two weeks after that is the IBJJF Toronto Open.  This event was a bit small last year, but well run, and a good event.   I'm hoping it grows a bit this year, and we can one day rival the New York, Boston, or Chicago open (of course, the ontario open rivals them, but it's not an ibjjf event, but it's just as good as them).

A couple weeks after that is grapping industries sunshine blvd.  Then the GTA Classic.   I don't have a link for that yet.

Lots of good stuff going on in the GTA for the rest of the summer.

See you... around, mostly on the sidelines.

In case you are not up to date on my shoulder situation:
1. I have an MRI scheduled for Sept 26th
2.  Every medical professional (2 very experienced physio therapists, the best sports doc in the country, and his resident surgeon)  all came to the same conclusion about it. That I have a torn labrum, possible torn rotator cuff, and a highly unstable shoulder.  That all have said it will probably need surgery, but they won't order it without an MRI.   I sure hope I can get a cancelation, or can pull some strings to get that MRI moved up, because at this rate, I don't even want to think about when the surgery will be and how long after that I'll be back.   I generally love our health care system, but it's times like this that I curse it.
3.  It was feeling better 2 weeks ago, then I trained a bit, and it got very bad again. I accidentally slept on it a couple nights and it hurts really bad in the morning when I do that.  I thought maybe the injury had been in my head, or that it wasn't as bad as it seemed, or that i donno, it was't as bad as it seemed first off, but the way it's been the last week makes me think It really is that bad :(
4.  I'm trying very hard not to get horribly depressed about it. It's difficult because I am a total endorphin junkie and being so inactive is really difficult for me.

Tata for now!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Why do the ladies get their own sub only tournament?

This was asked by a facebook friend of mine today, after this past weekends mat militia women's sub only event. 

In this case, it was because they had a guys version a few months ago and wanted to give the ladies a chance to showcase their skills as well.    It was free to compete in, and they collected donations to support a breast cancer charity.  All very cool and I am sad that I missed it. 

But, the question still stands and has been talked about by many.  Why do we need / want ladies only camps, classes, tournament and what not?

There are many many reasons, and they don't all apply to everyone and I doubt every reasons would apply to a single person, but it all comes down to community and not being an outsider.

Have you ever walked Into a  room and been the only young person? Old person? Have you ever taken a course and upon surveying the participants felt completely out of place?  Do you have a hobby that society or your friends and or family think first suit you?  Do you wish you had friends you could talk to about your favourite things but can't because none of them have a clue?  If you answer yes to any of these, then you have a slight idea what its like being a lady in the Bjj world. 

It's not abnormal for their to be zero or one girl in a typical class at moat schools. There are some that have more, and because they have more, they attract more, but that is far from the norm.
It's not abnormal for womens divisions in tournaments to have less weight classes(if any) and less belt division. But, even with these accommodations, empty divisions and combined divisions that leave huge disparities in size and skill level. 

Let's be honest when practicing Bjj, we get close, far closer then most people are comfortable with.  It's weird, its awkward at first, and as they say in all the memes "its only gay if you make eye contact".  Shit like that does NOT inspire anyone to try jiu jitsu, and most certainly not women!  Comments like "that's what I came here to see" when a fighter almost has a wardrobe malfunction are equally damning to the sport and don't really make us girls comfortable training or competing with or around guys.  

I've been lucky in my martial arts career, I started judo young before I even thought about how awkward some positions are, so it was normal and not weird for me from day one. Adults coming to the sport don't have that luxury.   I've also trained at schools that always respected me and didn't make me feel like an outsider.   That being said, I did choose to not train at a club because I was told "the guys wouldn't be comfortable with me in the class and that I should try cardio kickboxing". That was a few years ago, the club now has ladies in their classes, and will remain unnamed.

I've also been lucky because I am not an average build, I'm tall, and not exactly built like a model. Years of working with my dad in the tire business, martial arts, and Dutch genetics have made me not exactly petite.  So I don't have the troubles a lot of smaller more petite women do.   That being said, I'm still female, and. While I am not petite, I don't have a guys body either and still struggle with being less strong and having the lovely issues that come with the hormone roller-coaster that is our lives.  (water retention, mood swings, joint issues, ect, higher body fat ext). 

So you say, "really small, and really big guys have to deal with some of these problems to"!  It's true, and I feel bad for them sometimes, but the fact of the matter is, there are minimum 3 more weight classes for guys, and there are also masters and sometime senior divisions and most tournaments.   If. Guy had no one in their division at a small tournament or they are on the extreme ends or in an alder weight class, they will, almost Guaranteed have to chance to move down to adult or up one weight class.  For us, we don't have different age categories, and chances are, there is no one up a weight class, or two, or you are already in the top weight class, which is 50 lbs lighter then the guys.

Here in Ontario, tournament promoters are pretty good about supporting women in the sport.   A lot give us discount registration fees, which some of my male counter parts complain about.  But, as I have explained it to them. With the average division size for women sitting at 1 or 2, of 3 if you are lucky, and the average male division at somewhere between 8 and 16,  if they win, they get 3-5 fights, if we win, we get 1 or 2.  So, it's fair that we pay less right?  Also, many tournament give out prizes for absolutes or specific divisions,  it used to be the norm that the guys prizes would far far far outnumber the ladies, if there was prizes for the ladies at all.  This is also improving greatly, with the Ontario Open giving almost 1/2 to the ladies, and grappling industries committing to always having at least 1 trip for the ladies.  

I've had conversations with masters guys athletes, with them complaining and stating that they should have trip prizes or other prizes for their divisions to, because there are more of them then their are women.  My argument was, and still is,  they have the OPTION to compete in the old guy division, we don't have the option to compete with the guys (not normally anyway, grappling industries has allowed it, in some cases, when there was 0 competition available).  So, they choose to be in the smaller divisions, so I feel like they aren't actually being discriminated against.  That being said, saying the women are discriminated against is not really true either.  It's business plain and simple.  Should there be big trips for divisions/absolutes that have 1 or two competitors in them?  Hardly seems fair to the promoter!  It's not really the promoters fault there is no competition, and it's not the fault of the athletes that did show up either.

It's tricky to balance, and even talk about without someone getting offended.  I think it's totally fair that there are LESS trips/prizes for women, but we should get the chance to compete for a trip if our male counterparts get the chance.  What I mean by that is:  if there is a white belt guys, blue belt guys, purple+ guys, and blue and up girls trip, then the while and blue belt ladies should either have a trip for themselves as well, OR the opportunity to compete up in the division that does have a trip.  Sure, they probably won't win it,  but then, neither do all but 1 of the guys in their respective divisions.  It isn't fair to the promoter to expect them to have exactly equal prizes when the competitor pools are so insanely different in size.

So, why do we need our own classes/camps/events?  So we can complain to each other about all this.   So we can work together to try to fix all this, and so we can roll with some one who isn't either afraid to hurt us or trying to fix their ego by simply overpowering us. and so we don't always have to roll with smelly boys who have cooties. haha.  You think I am joking, but seriously,  boys are smelly.  But then, sometimes girls are to.  PSA to everyone, wash yourself, wash your gi.

For competitions, we need /like our own events because if we have our own events, we can plan them and work together to all get to them.   It's nice to have our own thing.  Also, because we are excluded from events sometimes. Like the gracie nationals, the 32 MAN showdown, and other things.  Most tournaments do have divisions for us, but they tend to be combined weight/belt classes with less prizes and whatnot, which, in most cases I am fine with. But I'm not fine with events that disclude us completely and that is why we "NEED" to have our own sub only event Kofi :P

This blog post really is all over the place isn't it?  Whatever, this is how my trains of thought work.  I am not your typical woe is me, poor me, I am a girl in a boys world type person. I've been lucky with who i've trained with, and the community around me.  I've got a great gi sponsor who supports me, even though I don't give him nearly as much exposure as the guys do(smaller divisions, lack of divisions = mess mat time = less advertising time). I'm also sponsored by grappling industries, who really are trying hard to help the women in the sport.  By being sponsored by them, I compete at their events for free.  This generally means, that any other girls who show up, have someone to fight. I think doing things like this really helps build the sport.  I know a lot of people don't want to register and waste their time/money when they have no one to compete with.  (of course, I am on the side line with this useless shoulder injury, so the theory isn't quite in practice at this moment).

So, ummm, yea.  Girls only events are cool. I wish we had more of them.  Co-ed events are even better.  Guys only events already exist and on one even blinks or notices.

If you are a member of the female half of the population, there are a bunch of facebook groups where there are open mats organized and stuff.  Ontario has one, Boston has one, There is the Women's Grappling Network,  the Grappling Camp group, and I am sure there are many more.  If you are looking for opportunities to roll and train with women they are out there!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Five Grappling - Ontario 1 June 29th Tournament Report

So, this past weekend was Five Grappling's first event!

On Friday night they held a seminar at the venue with jiu jitsu legends Marcelo Garcia and Xande Ribeiro.  Also at the seminar was 27 time mundial champion Renato Laranga!  On a semi related note, a super fight between Marcelo and Renato was announced on Saturday.

I wasn't able to attend the seminar, but from what I heard it was quite excellent.  Marcelo and Xande have fairly different styles and body types so it was great for people to get their different perspectives on the techniques and see what kind of changes you need to make to have things work for different body types and styles. A couple of my team mates, and some of my friends from other schools attended and had nothing bad to say about it.  I was originally registered, but had to withdraw from it because of my shoulder.  I'm pretty bummed I missed it.

My perspective of the competition is a bit skewed because I was working the entire day.  My job was to sort out 1/2 the fighters into queues for their mats runner.  It was a chaotic job, that left me with tired feet, a sore shoulder, no voice and no patience by the end of the day.   I'm not sure I would do the job again, but it was interesting anyway.  There were some issues that were out out fives control.that made the job more difficult then it needed to be and I think at their next event it will be much easier and less stressful.

The event started at 10am with a rules meeting. They basically went over the major differences between the five grappling ruleset and the ibjjf rules that everyone is used to.  This was a really good idea, because not everyone reads the rules of the competitions they enter and it probably saved the table workers and referees some grief from the coaches.   That being said, moat of the adults were not at the venue yet, so they did not benefit from the meeting.

The first portion of the day, which was gi kids, women, and masters took longer to get through then planned.  This was mostly because the competitors didn't listen to the instructions from the meeting, and the runners and myself.   They would not stay in the bullpen, when they were coming up, or enter the exit and go straight to their mat, and all sorts of other, incorrect behaviour that left us looking for fighters and waiting around.   The other issue was that the speaker and Mic setup in the bullpen did not get loud enough and the speaker was at the back of the bullpen, when it should have been at the front, near the warm-up area so the announcer could call people from the bullpen admin area without setting off lots of feedback.

The system for the draws was pretty sweet, each match got a number, so if you paid attention to your mat, and kept an eye on things, you would always have a pretty good idea of when you would be up next.   This is not a new thing for competitions in other sports like wrestling and judo, but it is new to jiu jitsu, so there will always be a learning curve.  I hope its a system that is adopted across the board by all the various promotions because it really is a great way of doing things.

So, the super fights ended up starting later them scheduled, and running before all the kids/masters/womens nogi was complete. This was a bit annoying but not the end of the world.  After the super fights things got back on track quickly and I believe the tournament was wrapped up by 6 or 630 pm. 

The superfights were all great fights.  There were 2 submissions I believe, Thomas Beach won by submission(sadly I missed this fight because we haf a mini meeting during it) and Michael Lierra Jr submitted Dainis Ng. 

Alison vs Sijara was a very entertaining match. They both almost got a kimura and if there had been a few more seconds Alison would have likely score some more points to take the lead.  Sijara won 5-2.
In the main event Darson and Gianni double guard pulled but Gianni came up for 2.  The rest of the match was Darson playing Dlr and Gianni trying to pass.   This may sound boring but it was actually quite entertaining. 

The medals and belts for the divisions were really nice looking.  They even had kids size belts for the advanced divisions. The award presentations were pretty delayed for the first half of the day, but I believe once they got going they handed them out as things went along Hopefully next time they will give them out as the divisions complete, since people had places to go and things to do, it was a holiday weekend after all.  They gave out sweet gear bags to every competitor, and also gave a bag, with a certificate for hatashita international to the competitors who their matches by submission.  I like this idea and I hope it becomes more popular.

All in all it was a successful event, and or their first tournament it was more than acceptable.   There are some kinks to work out, but they almost all revolve around the draw system and should be fairly easy to resolve.  I'm working on writing out some tips and fixes for the promoters that were apparent from my end, and I am certain that the next event will be even better!