Sunday, 3 November 2013

Grappling Industries : Pans Edition (Toronto) Oct 26th 2013

Last Weekend was an insanely busy weekend for me.  It started out on Friday evening with a Matthew Good concert at Hamilton place.   Jon loves Matt good, so he goes to see him whenever he is semi-close by.  It was a really good show, even though Matt was a bit sick.

I am pretty sure he was sick last time he was in Hamilton to, so maybe he is just allergic to the city.  We met up with some friends before the show and I ate poutine and cheescake.  "But Patricia", you say, "that's not keto at all".  No, it is not, every once and a while, when my schedule get's crazy, I take a break and eat lots of terrible food.  Last weekend was one of those weekends.  I felt pretty crummy because of it, and every time i do it i swear not to. But then a few months later I'll do it again.  It's a good reminder of why I eat the way I do.

After the show everyone wanted to go out drinking and for another bite to eat (at like 11:30 PM).   I declined and drove Jon's car home because I didn't want to referee on  2 or 3 hours of sleep.  The sacrifices I make for you people, you have no idea haha.   Of course, I still didn't get a great nights sleep because of all the ringing, and Jon not being home till who knows when.  He was the smart one, didn't register or the competition because he knew he'd be in bad shape for it.

Anyway,  the referees were supposed to be there for 8:20am, so we could have a little meeting, get organized and get the show going on time.  Surprise, Surprise, only 2 or 3 of us were there at the expected time, and a couple strolled in only a couple minutes before nine.  It would have been nice to have said meeting, so I could be more informed when people come up and ask me questions about divisions I am not refereeing.  I am not going to name names, or point fingers, but come on guys, if we want to be treated like professionals, let's act like them by being on time and being professional at all times.

I had a very good experience as a referee last weekend.  I wasn't yelled at once!!  It was amazing.   I did have to ask one coach to stop yelling at a fellow referee, but they didn't yell at me, and stopped yelling at the other referee as well.  I also had one or two questions where people were unsure about why advantages were scored they way they were, but they were quite polite about it, and very respectful of my explanations and decisions.  It was really refreshing.  Now, all this could be because I had to leave around 3, and missed most of the nogi, but I like to think it's because the spectators, coaches, and competitors are becoming more respectful and maybe even learning the rules.

One thing, looking back, that happened more then I would like, was me making simple scoring mistakes.  Once I scored 2 for a pass instead of 3,  and once I scored 2 for a  sweep, when it was actually a reversal (fighter A swept straight to mount, maintained for 3, then got reversed, i scored 2,4 then 2 for the other).  BUT,  in both cases,  I realized my error and fixed it well before the match was complete.   Getting the score board right after mistakes like that can be a bit of a challenge, especially when the score keepers are spending more time on their phones then paying attention to the match.  This seemed like a bigger problem on Saturday then it normally is, but I am not sure why.  Some of the regulars were not there, and perhaps the new people were not explained enough about how important paying close attention was.  There were no crisis's because of it, but it was fairly frustrating.

The event started a couple minutes late,  this is not the norm for grappling industries, but I think that, with all the changes to the process of weighing in and whatnot that were made for this event, it is not surprising, and is forgivable.   A lot of people showed up just before weighins closed so they ended up bogging down the weighin line and causing that to go late.   I think a stricter cut-off would help with this, and perhaps having 2 weighin scales, so that the rushes could be handled more efficiently.  Having a "check" scale would alleviate this as well, because then the weighin station wouldn't get bogged down with people who are just checking their weight.

The event ran pretty smoothly once it got going,  There were about 60 gi matches per mat, then about 25 or 30 nogi matches.  Gi was wrapped up, except for absolutes, by about 2pm, and nogi started on several mats at about that time.  It was delayed a bit, on some mats, because the gi absolutes, but that is pretty much unavoidable.   Matches were all wrapped up by 5:15 or so.

The mat areas were back to to small size that Grappling Industries normally has when they have 10 or 14 mat areas.  This did slow the matches down, and made me sad as a referee (and would make me sad as a competitor as well).  In order to have 7 mats in one row, it's pretty much unavoidable though.  People want to be able to see all the mats, but they also want bigger mats.  I really like having at the mats in one line, because it generally means you only have to look out for people coming onto your mat from one or two sides, instead of 3.  While that may seem minor, it means more attention can be paid to the competitors.   It also makes for the best spectator experience because views are not blocked when there is only spectator seating on one side of the gymnasium.   In venues  like the Pyramid in California, this obviously isn't an issue because there is seating on all sides, and it's raised.  But in most gymnasiums, there is only seating on one side.  Hopefully the next event they can come up with a configuration that offers a bit more safety area, while still being spectator and competitor friendly.

I mentioned earlier the changes to the weighins.  Grappling Industries is constantly evolving to best serve the competitors.  The changes they made were made with a lot of input from the community and were, what I think, a really good compromise that serves all sides well.  The old style of allowing night before weighins, and using the standard GI weight classes, when athletes could weighin without their gi on, was creating an environment that allowed much more serious weight cutting and gave advantages to local competitors who could weighin the night before.   Now, they use the NOGI weight classes, still allow you to weighin in whatever you like (just not naked) and have ONLY morning of weigh ins.   I really like this setup.  It pretty much means I will never be able to fight in the smaller womens weight class, but, let's be honest,  I probably don't belong there,  and I think this way pretty much stops everyone who was squeaking into divisions they didn't belong in, no longer able to.  I noticed a few regulars have moved up a weight class with this change, and I think it'll shake things up and make for a better experience for everyone.

I had the pleasure of refereeing quite a few of the women's matches, particularly the two white belt divisions.  One of the greatest things about refereeing the ladies was the camaraderie they all showed to each other.  They all cheered for each other, no matter what team they were from.  They supported each other.  Almost every match ended with a hand helping each other up and a hug.  Not a bro, quick tap on the back hug, a proper hug.  For 5 minutes, they try to beat the crap out of each other, but as soon as the match is over, everyone is friends again.  Even during matches, there was a lot more "sorry"'s then you would ever hear in a guys match.  Though, that might just be because there is generally a lot more hair to be pulled.

Here is one picture that is a great example of how the ladies divisions were.  Both of them smiling and having a good time.  Here is another, smiles all around.    And one last one.  It was amazing to watch and be a small part of.  Mandie won the -136 division, and Maura won the +136 division.   In the absolute final (well, there was only 1 fight for the absolute, since there is only 2 weight classes)  Maura got a great footsweep, but then got a little ahead of herself and Mandie snuck in a tight guillotine for the win and a trip to California.  Yacinta won the blue and up trip, she has won a fair share of the trips that grappling industries has given away,  she has amazing judo and her Jiu Jitsu is catching up quickly!   I am really looking forward to being able to compete with her when I am back.  I think we will have some great matches.

My Teammate Matt won the blue belt trip!   He smashed through his division, then won the absolute in a most impressive fashion.  This is the first trip that he has won, and I do not think it will be the last.  He trains like a monster and even though he is a heavy weight (220ish) He moves and fights like a light weight or feather weight.   I cannot wait to see him compete at Pans in March and al the other tournaments before then to.

Eric Phan from Open Mat won the purple/brown trip.  It's pretty amazing that he, as a tiny, fairly new, purple belt could win the absolute.  He had to beat some very tough guys to get there and he doesn't dick around trying to win on an advantage or two so I really enjoy watching his matches.  I imagine he will be ruining a few peoples days at Pans as well.

Eric Chibuluzo won the white belt trip.  This guy is one scary human being.  He has only been doing jiu jitsu for a few months, but he already competes, and wins matches, in the nogi advanced divisions.  His jiu jitsu is... not beautiful, but he is ridiculously athletic and knows enough to use that athleticism.  He is going to be a serious force to be reckoned with in the years to come as he moves up the ranks.

The Acai Cafe was at the event again, I hope these guys are at every tournament for the rest of time. I freaking love Acai bowls.  I will cheat any diet I am on, for an acai bowl.  They actually ended up selling out on Saturday, so I think that is a good sign that they will continue to come out to tournaments.  I only got 1 bowl on Saturday, I was planning on two, but didn't get a chance to get away to buy a second before I had to leave.  I hope they add peanut butter to their menu soon, then, it would be perfect.

Also on site was the gi hive.  The Gi Hive is a relatively new company, based out of Ontario, that sells great gis and gear, at reasonable prices and with cheap shipping.  If you have ever shopped for gis online, you know that is a tricky balance.   He has a nice variety of gis and the customer service is top notch.  

SO, as I said earlier, I had to leave at 3,  it ended up being more like 3:30, which, when you add the terrible Toronto traffic to, made me have to adjust my plans, and drive a little faster then I would have liked, to London.  My other officiating job of the day was judging fights at the inaugural Provincial Fighting Championships in London last Saturday.  It's important to note, I do not work for PFC,  I work for the Ontario Athletic Commission.   As such, I can't really get into a lot of details about the fights, or talk about my opinions of the results ect ect.   What I can say is this:  It was a great night of fights and I hope PFC will continue to puts cards on.  Not only so that I can have more work as a judge, but so that Ontario MMA fighters have a place to fight.  With the Score no longer putting on cards, It left a pretty big hole in the scene.   So hopefully new organizations like PFC an SCC can put on a couple events a year and give our guys somewhere to fight!

This past weekend marked 1 year since I started refereeing jiu jitsu!  I have worked at 14 events and refereed probably over 1000 matches.  It's been an amazing learning experience and I am glad that I have been able to referee so much this year, since I was unable to compete for such a large part of it.  I have to thank Grappling Industries  for taking the risk of having me as a brand new referee at one of their events, and for continuing to employ me.  I also have to thank the OJA for following their lead and letting me give back to the community at their events as well.   The money I have made from refereeing (and from judging MMA)  all goes straight back into my Jiu Jitsu career so I have to thank everyone for supporting me, by employing me.  

There aren't to may more events left to finish of the 2013 year of Jiu Jitsu.  

The IBJJF Montreal Open is on Nov 16th.  It's fairly expensive, but very well run, and a good opportunity to get some IBJJF points for rankings (which don't actually get you anything but bragging rights) and to test your jiu jitsu against the Montreal scene.

November 23rd is the NoGi Zombie house event at Toronto Nogi.   Zombie House events are a LOT of fun, they are a completely different environment compared to a regular tournament and I would recommend anyone who doesn't have an ego give one a try.   

November 30th is the OJA Provincials in St. Catherines.  This is the tournament I am aiming to make my comeback at.  Training went pretty well last week, until I got sick, but I am feeling better now, so I will be back t the grind on Monday (or maybe tonight for an open mat).  There are some trips to california on the line, and bragging rights as the "Provincial Champion".  Also, the medals are quite nice looking.

Wrapping up the year, Grappling Industries has an event scheduled for Dec 7th in Montreal.  They are giving away season passes to all their events as the grand prizes.  This is a cool concept because it will hopefully get people to travel a bit more and expose the Montreal people to Toronto and vise versa.  This is also the weekend I have set for myself as a deadline for whether I will cancel my shoulder surgery or not.  Sadly, this event has been canceled :(

The OJA has released their tentative schedule for 2014.  It looks a lot like the 2013 schedule.  Hopefully, it stays the way it is.  2013 had quite a few date changes, cancellations and location changes.  Events with *'s by them have the location and date confirmed, and I assume, the venues booked so are very unlikely to change.

SO, This post has gotten pretty long, I guess I'll stop rambling now.  See you on the mats!