Well, when I first pinned down a date to organise a competition, I anticipated that it would take some organising. I’ve organised events before, and I’ve been at the head of (small) teams of people in order to get stuff done. Just how much organising BJJ comp would take, however, did not become apparent until we truly got stuck in. I’ve learnt a lot in doing this one that I hope to carry over to future events to make life both easier for myself, the guys at the gym, and for competitors. Not to say the organisation of this hasn’t gone smoothly, it has, but there are always things that could be improved upon. For example, next time I hope to use some kind of online ticketing system, much like they do at the bigger competitions, for ease of payment and registration. This helps prevent confusion and crossed-wires for both us as the organisers, and the competitors.
Anyway, it was about two months ago that we finally pinned down a date for the first Kaizen Academy no-gi grappling contest. I wanted the first one to be no-gi because that is what most of the members at Kaizen have the most experience in. We have a few players who come from a gi background, and those of us who do train mostly no-gi are slowly becoming more comfortable in the gi. For the first one, however, we would definitely have more interested no-gi players. We have plans to expand to gi competitions in the future.
So we sent out the invites to everyone and anyone we could think of who might be interested in coming to compete. We had our ups and downs in terms of responses, some categories filled very quickly (looking at you, men’s <77kg White Belts!) and others we had something of a struggle with (ladies…). Yet, as of yesterday, and one week ’til competition day, we had 52 athletes registered, 44 of whom have paid. We’ve promised every athlete at least two matches. This is a digression from traditional competition style, but it means that everyone gets a consolation match if they lose in their first match. This might not be the way we do it in the future (especially if we run bigger competitions), but Michael and I thought (certainly for the first one), that it provided a nice touch, and added to the friendly atmosphere of the day. We wanted this to be an introduction to competing for those who’ve never done it before, or a chance just to come and have some fun for those who have been to comp before. What I think is most exciting is that whilst we’ve got 25 out of 52 athletes coming from Kaizen Academy, 27 of them are from other parts of the country. We’ve got athletes coming from York, Hull, Sheffield, Manchester… we’ve even got some coming from as far away as Ireland, which is pretty damn cool!
After we’d got competitors lined up and brackets sorted, we ordered in the medals (they’re very pretty by the way!), and started to think about set up and things that needed to be done on the day. The match space has been marked out to IBJJF regulation size, and we will have spectators sitting mat-side, as they do at EBI’s. We thought that this would make for a great atmosphere for the competitors. We did a mini-test run of a few division sizes yesterday (pictures below). Clearly we won’t have girls and guys in together on the day, this was just to test run with the right number of players.
We roped in every bit of help from our current Kaizen members, who have been absolutely stars in helping this competition run smoothly. Michael, our head BJJ coach is going to be the main referee on the day (we will be following IBJJF rules), but Adam – our MMA coach – has also stepped up to brush up on the rules so he can be our second referee. We have table refs, a comp MC, runners, photographers, a podium overseer, food and drink helpers; you name it, Kaizeners have stepped up help out with this, which is absolutely amazing.
Our scoring system is interactive, and will be broadcast onto one of the two television screens within the gym. This means that the competitors can see both their score and the time during their match. Anyone who has ever competed will know that this is seriously helpful, to know exactly where you stand and how much time you have left. It means you know that you either have to crank it up, hunt for the sub, or pull something amazing out the bag, or – you’re in the lead – you can attempt to relax, not doing anything daft, and let the person who’s behind go on the attack, allowing you to defend. To make this work, we have two table refs at any one time; one to work the system, one to keep an eye on the ref so the score can be kept accurately. We have rotating teams of table refs, so no one gets stuck on the table all day.
We’re doing a few more test runs later this week, and I’ll let you know how those go before show time on Sunday. I’m seriously excited. It’s going to be awesome!