Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jiu Jitsu Hair: a How to Guide

This is a topic that comes up pretty regularily in the facebook groups and forums that I frequent.  "My hair is this long, how can I keep it contained for Jiu jitsu", or "My hair always goes in my eye and makes me cry when I roll how do I fix this"?  Ok, that one might be made up, but you get the point right?

A surprising number of these questions come from guys.  Which, I suppose, is understandable.  While it's not super unusual for guys to have hair that is quite long, Most of them don't have a lot of experience when it comes do doing anything other then brushing it, and maybe throwing it in a low elastic to keep it back.  There are lots of ladies asking as well, but they generally have a better idea or starting point at least.  So, this post is for everyone who has medium to long hair!

Your best option will depend on your hair length.  Some techniques work better for shorter hair, and some for longer hair.  How much time and dexterity you have to commit to your hair is also a factor.  I'll do my hair differently depending on how much time I have.  Generally, the longer it takes, the better it will stay contained, so keep that in mind.

For all of these styles,  I generally tie up the hair i'm not focusing on with an elastic, to keep it out of the way so that it doesn't tangle in while I'm trying to tie up, or braid other hair.  It's an extra step, but it's quick, and saves time in the long run.

One thing that is important to remember is that for Jiu Jitsu( and MMA, and judo, and pretty much all combat sports), you aren't allowed to have any medal or hard plastic in your hair (or on your body for that matter) when competing.  So those handy dandy medal flat clips are a nogo for competition. I don't like to use them for training either, because if they popped open then could poke someone in the eye or something.  When it comes to elastics, they can't even have that little medal bit that holds them together that some have.

Jaw Length or Less
Let's start with the shortest length that you really have to worry about it, When your hair is down, it's about jaw length.  Any shorter then this, and it doesn't really get in the way. In theory, these techniques could work for shorter still, but Probably aren't worth the effort.  My hair was this short in mid-2012.  You basically have 2 options.  1.  Braids, 2. pony tails/pig tails/ typing it up.  I will use those three terms to mean the same thing, wrapping an elastic around hair to tie it up.

When hair is this length, you are going to need a bunch of elastics, no matter which way you go.  It's to short to tie all in one place.  I generally went with 4-6 sections, until it got a bit longer, then could get away with 2. When hair is jaw length, or less, you don't have to worry to much about it laying on the mat and getting knelt on,  or getting in the way of your collars, the main problem is it getting in your face.  So we need to take the hair on the top of your head, and tie it back.

If you have a lot of time, braiding is the way to go, french braiding at that.  I made 2 little videos of my braiding my hair.  The first, with no commentary.
The second with a commentary.  These are filmed with my phone, so it was a bit tricky having such a small "mirror" to work with.  If your hair is jaw length or less, you can stop braiding after the french braid is complete, and tie it up securely with an elastic or two.  You don't want to use the big chunky elastics I used in the video though, they will come loose easily, use smaller ones that you can get really tight.

The shorter your hair is, the more of these braids you are going to want to do, and the less hair you are going to want to add with each section, or else it will fall out.

My hair is currently to long to properly demonstrate this technique, but I do have some pictures from the past, sporting the pony tales.  The concept is the same, whether you are go with braids or pony tails.  Split the front 1/4 to 1/3 of your head(from about your ears forward) into 4-6 equal parts and tie them back individually.  The shorter your hair is, the more sections you want.

This picture is kind of far away, but you can see the ponytails sticking up/back a bit and see my hair is nicely out of my face and out of the way. This picture is a much better close up.  This was my 4th fight of the day and you can see, on the right side, it's getting a bit lose and messy.  The good thing is, it's quite easy to repair this style so if it comes out, it won't take long to fix.

Once your hair gets a bit longer, you can use less sections.  Between the transition of the jaw length, to the really annoying length, I tied it in 2 sections to keep it out of my face. It takes less elastics, and less time, but is less secure.

When your hair is jaw length or less, like I mentioned before, the back of your head's hair isn't really an issue, but, you can't do much about it anyway, it's to short to tie into anything sensible, that wouldn't actually get more in the way.

Shoulder Length Hair

Once your hair is shoulder length, you have to start worrying about the back of your head.  That hair will end up on the mat when your on the bottom of side control, mount, or even playing guard, and nothing is worse then trying to bridge, or shrimp, or move your head, and having your own back, or your opponents knee on your hair stopping you!

There are a LOT of ways to deal with this hair, from supper lazy and not that effective, to fairly time consuming and very effective.

  1. A basic Pony tail.  Just gather all your hair up in the middle of the back of your head, and tie it up.  This is quick and dirty, and will keep it out of your face, and a bit out of the way.  But, it'll fall out quick, and will still give you a lot of trouble.

  2. Take your pony take from option # 1, and fold up the tail and wrap a bunch of elastics around it.  I show the beginning of this in the pony tail video above, but just take that, and add a pile of elastics around it. Only 1 will hold up to the warm up, but as soon as people start touching your head it all comes undone. This is what I do when I am in a rush.  a basic pony tale is not effective at my current hair length, because it still gets under my shoulders.   The down side to this method is, it can get a bit bulky at the back, depending on your hair length/thickness, and then popping your head out of guillotines and bow and arrows and so on can be a bit tricky because your hair will create a hook for their arm to stay on.  

  3. Pony tail and braid. This is a pretty solid option if you have an extra minute or two.  Do a basic pony tail, then braid the hair from there (a regular braid, not a french braid).  You can then wrap the braid up in a kind of bun, and it'll be pretty sturdy.  When I am a little bit less lazy, this is how I do my hair.  Here's a pic from training of the pony tail + braid.

  4. Dual French Pony Tails.  Yea, I just made that term up, because I don't really know how better to describe it. You take the concept of french braiding (adding hair as you go) and apply it to pony tails.

  5. Dual French Braids.  Split your hair in half, and french braid it down to the end.  With #4 and with these french braids, I like to take the ends, and tie them up, just like any other style.  They make less of a bump when they have been braided or pony tailed down to the end, so it's a lot better this way, then a regular pony tale bunned up.

    This picture, you can see the results of french braids, tied up, after a bunch of matches. It's gotten a bit messy, but it's still pretty well contained.  This picture, I didn't tie the braids up very well, and you can see, if I was on my back, they'd be on the floor, not quite idea.

You see a lot of mma fighters with cornrows in their hair. This is the ULTIMATE safe Jiu jitsu hair style.  Cornrows are basically super tight french braids done with very small bits of hair.  Fun Fact, when I was a kid, my mom used to do my hair in tiny braids.  the top/front would be cornrowed and the back would be all braids.  I'd have somewhere between 50 and 100 braids in my hair.  It was petty bad ass.

This picture of Uriah Faber shows the technique I show with french braiding the top half.  His braids are a lot smaller, and therfore more secure. If I had the time, and arm stamina, I'd do it this way. 

Roxy has rocked some pretty awesome corn rows.  Her stylist got creative and zigged and zagged.  That would be nearly impossible to do yourself, so you are on your own if you need a tutorial on it.  I could do it to your hair, but not my own.

This picture of Miesha and Ronda show the french braids, and a take on the french pony tales.  As you can see Miesha's hair is already coming undone, this is why most of the ladies go for corn rows.  Ronda's hair is pretty excellent, it's a more complicated french pony tail style, where she has multiple starting points that each have hair added, then they all get put together and braided at the back.  

Finally, there are some girls and guys out there that use a swim cap to keep their hair contained.  Some swear by it, but I don't think I could handle it.  My hair get so sweaty and I get so hot training, I can imagine having my entire head encased in rubber/plastic.  But, the option is out there for you if you want to give it a try.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Tournament Draw Systems Part 3 - Round Robin

So, we talked about Single Elimination, and Double Elimination already, the only other system that is really used is Round Robin. 

Round Robin is a weird one,  it's got a million variations, and it makes a big difference how large the division is as to how it works.  The basic premise is that everyone fights everyone, and whoever has the most wins, is gold, and second most is silver, and third most is bronze.  Of course, nothing is ever that simple in the real world.

Generally, if a division is larger then 5, it will get split into "pools",  so you only fight the people in your pool, and then the winners of the pools move on to a single elimination bracket.  Also, generally, the number of pools is kept to an even number, that makes a nice single elimination bracket at the end.  The pools aren't always the same size, so sometimes people will have more fights then others.  

Sometimes, only the top 1 from each pool moves on, and sometimes top 2.  in this case, the #2's fight the #1's from the other pool.

Confused yet?  Let's add another complication.  Sometimes (quite often) there is a tie, in a pool,  in a 5 person pool, two fighters go 3-1, now what?  There are a couple ways to determine the winner:
  1. Who won the fight between the two?  That person is #1. (If there is a 3 way tie, this falls apart)
  2. It goes to points:  X points for each submission, X points for a win by points, and X points for a win by decision.
    1. If those points are tied, it sometimes goes to who score the most points in the matches, or who won their matches the quickest.
    2. Generally with those criteria someone comes out ahead, but in case they don't I would think that another fight between them happens, or they go to the first criteria I mentioned, who won the fight between the two of them.

There are many different ways that round robin draws are visualized, There isn't really a right or wrong way, but I think there are varying levels of complication and understandability when it comes to the draws.  

This style takes up the least amount of space, and is easy to calculate, BUT, it is a bit confusing at first.

This might need a bit of explanation.  Each ROW represents that persons matches.  They don't fight themselves, that is why there is that diagonal line of greyed out boxes.  Each fight, in this style of sheet, is represent in 2 boxes, one for each fighter.  As with all my other samples, the match number is in red.  The purple is all things the draw person would fill in.   As you can see, there is a lot more information that has to go into recording round robin,  to handle the times.   Personally, when I am running a mat, I record how they won for all types of sheets, just to be safe, and for the promoters records.  If I am feeling crazy, I'll write the match time down too.  

So, in this case, who gets what place depends on if they are going by option #1, or option #2.  

If we go by option #1 we have a situation,  the each loss to each other,  Fred beat Bob, who beat Same, who beat Fred. If Matt had won against Fred, then we would have had a tie for first/second and a tie for third/fourth.   Let's figure out who wins what medal,  in that revised senario.

Going by option #1.
Bob beat Sam, so Bob get's first, and Sam gets second and based on our revision above, Mat beat Fred, so Mat gets 3rd and Fred gets 4th, leaving poor, winless Joe in 5th.

Going by option #2 (still with the revision of Matt beating Fred).
Bob and Sam both have 3 wins, 2 of which are subs, and one of which are points, so in the round robin scoring, they are tied.  Next we look at how many points they scored in the match that was won by points.  Sam scored 14 points and 4 advantages, while bob scored 4 points and 2 advantages. So,  Sam wins Gold and Bob gets silver.  

Going by option #2(with the original, scoring showed in the image)
Bob and Sam are still tied on the round robin scoring, and Fred, who only has 1 submission, 1 points, and 1 decision, loses that tie breaker and gets third place, Sam still gets gold, and Bob gets silver. 

It's important to note that the round robin scoring (X points for sub, Y points for winning by points and Z points for a decision)  ONLY comes into play when there is a TIE of wins.  You cannot play the numbers,  lose more matches, but end up with more points to get the gold, no matter which way of figuring out ties is being used.

Here is another style of sheet, filled in for the exact same scenario:
In this mode,  the order of fights and who fights who is a bit more clear,  but, calculating the totals is not nearly as handy.  

Fun fact,  technically, the top or first name is supposed to be the blue/colour fighter.  So, if you are ever competing, and see the draws ahead of time, dress appropriately, or get the silly belt ready.  At big tournaments like the IBJJF worlds, for the black belt finals, they REQUIRE you to follow this rule, first fighter MUST wear ROYAL BLUE(not navy, not black, not white).   This isn't a new concept, Judo has done it forever.  At big judo tournaments, you have to wear the right colour gi as well, that is why I had to bring 4 gis to every tournament.  (a spare of each colour, in case of blood).    I personally, as a referee, fan, and competitor, like this policy, it makes keeping the fighters straight so much easier.  I hope it becomes a trend in NOGI to.  maybe have a white based rashguard and a black based rashguard or something.

I mentioned Pools earlier.  Let me illustrate that system for you now.  I got a bit lazy, and just changed the names, and the outcome of fight #10.   In a case like this, each pool could be run on a separate mat, and then the semi and final matches run once the pools are complete. Alternatively, they could be alternated doing 2 matches from pool #1, then two from pool #2 and so on. 

Now, this is all well and good, when you don't promise a number of matches to your competitors, which, the main user of round robin here in Ontario does.  Grappling Industries uses their own wacky version of round robin where you fight 4 people in your division. There isn't pools like in a standard system.  So if you have a division of 20 people, fighter # 1 might fight fighter # 2, 8, 10 and 19, then fighter #2 might fight # 1, 10, 17, and 4,  and so on.  Divisions of 2 you fight the same guy twice, divisions of 3 you fight each guy twice, divisions of 4, you get three fights.  and divisions of 5+ you fight some subset of the fighters in the division.  The table gets a list of matches for the division, which has the fighters names, and a column for the winner and what they won by.  It does work quite nicely for keeping the mat running, but it's difficult to keep track of the points and who's fighting who.

They end up with a LOT of ties,  some of which I think could be avoided using a proper pooling system.   When there are ties at grappling industries events they take all the tied people and have them battle it out in a single elimination bracket. 

This all might change, since they partnered up with Mata Leao to do their draws.  I hope they start using a more standardized system because it can cause a lot of confusion for the fighters, and the table workers using this style.

The other time you see round robin in Ontario is with KIDS divisions at OJA events. They use sheets that look similar to the second example.  For the very young kids, they split the categories into pools small enough so that every kid gets a medal, and for the older kids, they split them up so that the kids get a few fights, and then the pool winners go to a semi final and final single elimination bracket.   I think this is really fair for the kids, because it sucks for everyone to lose 1 fight and be out, and while I am all for kids learning by failing, giving them they opportunity  to compete in more then 1 match is good for them.

So, that wraps up the round robin.  There are probably some complexities that I have missed.  It creates a lot of matches, but It's a system that can create a lot of experience, and is pretty good for fairly assessing the true best competitors.