Thursday, 12 September 2013

Grappling Industries: Sunshine Blvd Sept 7th 2013 Recap

Grappling Industries was back in Toronto this past weekend for a smaller event then their past events.  I didn't count the competitor list but  it we ran 5 mats with about 90 matches per mat.  In the past there have been as many as 14 mats but with less matches per mat. 

First, I have to say, as a referee I LOVED the setup.  The small mat areas they have had in the past has been the biggest negative for their events.  They had very large mat areas, with a double row between for a safety area.  I wasn't run into from a neighbouring mat area once!  Only having a single row(of mat areas), Instead of two also allowed for better viewing for the spectators.  Speaking of spectators, the fee was 15, which to me is pretty high,  but they post what it is on the website so I can't complain to much, and as a referee I didn't have to pay, so it didn't affect me.
There are a few reasons why I think.the event was smaller then their past events.

1.  The proximity to the GTA classic.  This is a well established event that a lot of people really look forward to.  It's a solid tournament that is always in mid September so people plan to attend it.  Hosting an event only two weeks before will certainly make you lose some potential attendees.

2.  Their last event in Toronto was only 6 or so weeks earlier.  When the Ibjjf comes to a city twice in one year, its 6 months apart, not 6 weeks, they do that for a reason!  They also have another event at the end of October, 6 or 7 weeks away again.  There is lots of talk of an over saturated market, and I think they will feel the pain of it hosting 3 events so close together. 

3.  It was the weekend after everyone went back to school.  Kids are just getting back into their school routines, post secondary students are settling into their school year homes and parents are dealing with kids who are back to school.  The last thing on any people's mind this weekend is a Jiu jitsu competition!

So yeah, it was smaller, but it was well run, there was really good competition in a lot of the divisions and there was acai!

I love acai bowls.  I discovered them when we went to Costa mesa for the first AoJ training camp is summer 2012.  I had resisted trying them until the last day of the camp because I don't know why.  Anyway, we.all went the the place just down the road from AoJ after class and waited like 40 min for the bowls, it they were amazing.  Fast fwd to worlds 2013, we were in Costa Mesa for a few days before and I was really watching what I.ate for the first few.days because I was still disillusioned into thinking I could compete, but then I realized I could not,and ate a bowl the last day we were in Costa mesa, and then every day at worlds. 

So anyway, a couple guys from Toronto Bjj have started the Acai Cafe and this past weekend was their first event!   The bowls were simple, just granola and banana,  it they were really tasty anyway.  They seemed sweeter then I remember from California,but that could just be me.  Hopefully next time they have a few more toppings like coconut, peanut butter and cocoa nibs.  The prices were reasonable considering the costs to get acai packs up here.  The bowls were smaller then California,  it that's not terrible because the ones in California are almost too big.  Just a side note,  they will be at the GTA Classic next weekend, and also at the next Grappling Industries Toronto event as well.
Ok, enough about acai. 

I got to referee some pretty excellent matches and I was also requested to not referee some other matches.  This is a first for me, and I have to admit I was pretty shocked and sad when David came over to my mat and said someone wanted to have a different ref for their matches.  This was a first for me and I didn't take it very well.  I'm sure it's nothing personal, maybe they don't like that I ask the fighters to switch sides so I can raise their arm properly. Who knows.  Anyway, after that, I sat around for a bit and got over it fairly quickly after I ate some pizza and acai.

One competitor stood out for me while refereeing the blue belt -154 gi division.  The whole division was pretty stacked with some amazing fights,  Myles Allen hit a pretty sweet triangle on Kevin Wheeler really fast, which was almost disappointing, because I was looking forward to seeing them really duke it out ya know?  Props to Myles though, he has sick triangles.

But, That is not who I wanted to talk about, one of the competitors went 4-0 in the round robin, winning every single fight with a loop choke!   Milkias, from Body of Four, has ridiculous loop chokes!  It's scary how he sets them up, from almost any position.  Standing? No problem, Guard?  done,  Getting guard passed? done.  It's like Jon and his silly baseball chokes!  I had an inkling about that he worked them a bit, when he was training at the redstar training a ways back.  He hit it on a few people there.  Those were good times,  I hope we can do that redstar training again soon.  Maybe I'll actually be able to roll this time! Back on topic:  Loop Chokes are pretty awesome, and I think I might want to start working them into my game a bit.  That's right, me... doing a choke, we shall see.  I'll probably just end up using it to set up an armbar.

One other thing about refereeing that I wanted to talk about was how disrespectful a couple of coaches were to some of the referees.  If you think you know the rules so well, put on the tuxedo shirt and bowtie and try doing the job yourself.  Seriously.  I know, as a coach, you want your fighter to win, but abusing the referees isn't going to help them.

One particular case that stood out in my mind relates to the infamous baseball bat choke.  Fighter A had fighter B in his guard,  fighter B passes, and fighter A sets up a baseball bat choke, but incorrectly his arms never crossed so fighter B, who is passing is never in danger of being submitted.  The referee gave the 3 points and eventually fighter B ended up back in fighters A's guard, 3 points ahead.   Maybe the coach didn't see that the choke wasn't being effective because of the angle, but that doesn't give him the right to make a scene and insult the referee the way he did.  Even if the choke was effective, I've seen HIGH level referees(at IBJJF events) give pass and back points for competitors stuck in baseball bat chokes(I've seen points given to a guy as he promptly takes a nap) so to go off about how terrible the refereeing is because of a situation like that is even more ridiculous.

Personally, I had one case where I had the crowd pretty upset with the delay in giving an advantage.  There was a scramble, I can't remember exactly what, and one guy almost gets the other guys back, he's got one hook in, and is controlling pretty well, but never get's that 2nd hook in.  Anyway,  the crowd is yelling for the advantage, but I am focusing on the fighters, and in my head reviewing how they got there to make sure I didn't miss points or an advantage for the other guy before I give the advantage for the back.  It probably looked like I wasn't going to give the advantage so I can kind of understand why they were yelling for it.  So I didn't let it phase me.  I just hope that people didn't see the delay as me being influenced by the crowd to give the advantage.

The event started on time, as usual, and ran pretty close to ontime.  Nogi did start a bit later then estimated, maybe by 1/2 hour or so, but there wasn't much a lull between gi and nogi so that wasn't to bad.   I headed out a bit early, since I was going camping, but 2 mats were already shut down, and it was pretty much just absolutes running when I left at around 4:15pm.

As with pretty much every tournament I have attended as a spectator/competitor/referee/other  there was some confusion about which techniques were legal and not legal for the various ages of kids.  I was lucky to not have to referee kids, so I only had to keep what's legal for different belts straight and not worry about ages.  You'd be surprised that adults sometimes don't even know what they are allowed and not allowed to do.  Anyway,  with the kids, guillotines are not supposed to be allowed and there were some matches where they happened.  I don't want to blame anyone, but it sucks for the kids when they get guillotined(and the refs stops it before they even think about tapping) and lose, when that technique isn't supposed to be allowed for like 5 or 7 more years!

As referees, especially for kids, we really need to review the rules and know what is allowed and not allowed.   Like I said, this happens all the time, not just at Grappling Industries but it's something, as a referee I know I even need to work on, because I was asked the next day, which subs are legal and which aren't and I couldn't nail down a solid list off memory.  I usually have a copy of the rule book with me at tournaments (IBJJF Rules for ones that follow that anyway) so I can reference it before a match If I have to ref some kids of various ages and I think perhaps tournaments should supply an easy to read, clear, and detailed list of what is allowed at what ages/belts for the referees, but also for the coaches and spectators.

Grappling Industries is making some pretty major changes to their events for their next one in Toronto, On October 26th.  You can read about the new changes to the format on the announcement post here.  The highlights are: kids will be split between white and colour belts, and white belt kids will be no-sub, while colour will follow the IBJJF rules for allowed subs.  Finally, they will be changing the weighins so that nogi will use the IBJJF nogi weight classes, and Gi will use the Gi weight classes and weighins will be done before your first match, instead of the night before/first thing in the morning.

 I am a fan of pretty much all of this, except for the weighins not being first thing in the morning.  I love the first thing in the morning weighins, it gets it out of the way, it lets you know who is there and who isn't and it keeps things running better throughout the day.  Jiu Jitsu is pretty much the only sport that uses the right before the match weighin system and I don't know why it loves it so much. I know it's to combat weight cutting, but It generally just means people who are naturally close end up fighting hungry and dehydrated.

Coming up next (in my best Mike Goldberg voice):

The GTA Classic:  Saturday Sept 21st in Toronto.  There will be Acai, samurai swords, food bank donation collections and lots of Gi Jiu Jitsu.  It's pre-registration only and registration closes sometime next week. I couldn't find the date off hand. I imagine it closes on Tuesday or Wednesday.   You have to be a member of the OJA to compete and you can register through the OJA's website.

The Canadian Submission Expo aka Sub-X:  Sunday Sept 21st in Toronto. This is a really cool charity fight show that will feature the absolute finals from Saturday's GTA classic as well as a bunch of other really great super fights.  It's all for charity and well worth the trip to Toronto for the afternoon.

JCC GTA Invitational: Saturday Sept 28th. This is a kids/juniors only event put on by the OGA.  These tournaments are unique in that it's kids only and they use simulated submissions for the younger/less experienced competitors (this means they only have to lock the submission on, not apply it).  They've made some changes about what is allowed at what age/belt so make sure you check the rules before you go!

Zombie House Submission League: Saturday Sept 28th.  This is a really cool event that has been fairly "underground" for the last couple years.  It's basically sub-only matches that go 5 minutes, and you get as many subs as you can.  It's a very chilled out atmosphere and very friendly.  It's split up by weight classes not belt and there are handicaps applied to the various belts, so if a white belt subs a purple, it's worth way more then purple subbing a white.  It's worth checking out on a Saturday afternoon.

Grappling Industries Montreal: HWY 401 Edition.  Saturday Oct 5th They are moving up to the big gym at the same location, and using 5 big mats like this past weekend in Toronto.   The last event in Montreal was pretty cozy, so this will be a great change.  They are giving away 8 trips to the last Grappling Industries event in Toronto for 2013 (Oct 26th).  If, you happen to be from the GTA, you can always cash out the prize.  I like the idea of giving trips to Toronto, I hope it gets some more mixing of the Jiu Jitsu scenes in the two cities.

SAU: Autumn Jiu Jitsu Games. Saturday Oct 12th in Montreal.  I still have not made it out to one of these events, and I don't think I will this time around either. But I have heard a lot of good things about it. They do a double elimination Gi tournament, and a subonly nogi event in one day.  Worth checking out if you are in the area.

Ottawa BJJ Open: Saturday Oct 19th  Sunday Oct 20th in Ottawa.  This is a Gi Only event that should bring out a lot of the Ottawa area teams that don't often make it out to the GTA or Montreal events in big numbers.   You need to be a member of the OJA to compete and it is pre-registration only.

Grappling Industries Toronto: Pans Edition: Saturday Oct 28th. This is the event I mentioned earlier with the format changes. Don't tell me I didn't warn you about the weighins when the time comes.  They are giving away 5 trips to California for the IBJJF Pans.  If they get 500 competitors, they will double that and give away 10 trips!   That is absolutely crazy.  I may just register and fight with 1 arm!

So, that is a busy time coming up. There are a bunch more events to round off the year, but I think that is enough for now.  I'll probably be at all the grappling industries events, and any of the ones in the GTA.  It's not really worth it for me to travel to the non-near by ones unless I have teammates competing so we shall see about Ottawa and the SAU event.


  1. Just a correction, the Ottawa BJJ Open will be on Sunday Oct 20th. Maura.