Saturday, 7 December 2013

OJA Provincials Nov 30th 2013 Report

There is so much to talk about for this tournament!  It was my first competition back since the whole shoulder incident back in early may,  we had a really great team turnout, I refereed, I competed, I was in a gymnasium for 14 hours straight.  Good times.

I guess I will talk a little bit about the tournament itself first.  It was held at Brock University, in St. Catherines.  At first, I thought this was a pretty terrible idea, it's I didn't think anyone was going to bother making the trip out there, It's a long ass drive for anyone east of the GTA.  I think the location did affect who turned out, but a huge crew from Ottawa made the trek, which pretty much makes anyone elses excuse for distance invalid.

The distribution of competitors was not the norm, but there was a LOT of them there. I believe the had over 700 registrations (if someone does gi and nogi they count as 2).  There was a LOT of kids, and it seemed like more masters and seniors then a lot of other local events.  Some of the blue belt divisions were pretty sparse, but some of the purples had more then others.  On the ladies side of things, the distribution was even stranger.  There were 4 of us in a single weight class in purple and up.  Tiffany did move up from medium heavy, but still.  4.  in one weight class.  Even 3 would have been something worth mentioning.  The blue belts were also clumped together pretty well.

 The gym was very large, but had very little seating room.  It worked out ok, because there was a lot of room around the competition area to stand, but without bleachers, there wasn't really good place to store your gear and be able to sit to watch the matches.  This venue would be pretty ideal, if they had a way to bring in some bleachers along the one wall.  It was very bright, which was great for photos/videos  and the bathrooms were kept clean, and were very close to the gym which is also very nice.

The parking, in the cheap lot, was $7 for the day, not unreasonable, but it wasn't advertised. There also wasn't signs pointing towards the lot, until you got off the main entry road to the gym and were right on top of it.  I know a bunch of people ended up in the expensive lot, and paid $2.50 an hour to park!  When you are there from 8:30 am till 10:30 pm, that adds a pretty significant expense to the day.

The tournament staff was very friendly, and all the table workers I worked with were good at their jobs.  They kept the kids around, they got the scores right, and were very pleasant to work with.  There is always going to be one or two cases of them pressing the start/stop a bit off, but nothing disastrous happened.  It did seem like they were a few volunteers short, especially towards the end of the day.  Referees were working tables because there was no one else to do it.  I know it is very difficult to staff an event of this scale, especially with volunteers and especially when it goes so late.  Props to the ones who stuck around till the end.  People like you keep the jiu jitsu world going.

The event started almost on time, I want to say about 10 or 15 minutes late.  Which isn't to bad, when you consider how many kids registered for the wrong divisions.  There was a lot of talk on the interwebs about how to keep the kids from holding up the entire day.  There is no perfect solution, but I think that running them on a few mats, instead of taking up the entire morning and early afternoon on them would get things running better.  I also thing that the tournament needs to be 2 days.  A lot of people say that this is to hard for out of towners, but let's be honest, no one who is an out of towner want's to have to be at a tournament for 14 or 15 hours, then drive home that night anyway.

The tournament ended up being about 2 hours behind by mid-afternoon.  It was a multitude of small things piled on top of each other that causes this to happen. Kids not being what they say,  kids going to the bathroom, adults going to the bathroom, having a lot of the referees also compete (guilty as charged, it causes shortages).  Volunteers needing breaks or the bathroom, lunch, watching their kids, ect, ect ect.  None of these things on their own will cause a serious delay, but they add up.  One thing that I think would help a lot, would be queuing up divisions on mats.  It seemed like they didn't start looking for the next division to run on a mat, until the previous one was 100% complete.  This leaves a mat empty for at least 5 minutes, and sometimes much much longer.  You can't go to crazy queuing up divisions and matches, or if you get a serious injury or the like, you end up with even worse delays and one mat running way way later then the others.

I got to referee a division of really great kids,  It was a white belt division, but these kids had some serious skill.  The two that stuck out most were Dash, and Malick.  Dash had more energy than I have ever scene, and his coach did a really amazing job focusing him and his energy throughout his matches.  Malick was cool as a cucumber in his matches, showed great technique, always listened to me and was really kind to the kids he fought.

I refereed some of the nogi blue belt matches at the end of the day,  by this point, we had been working/competing for 12 hours with very little rest/breaks.  I reffed a match with Remy, from one of the ascension schools.  He had some really nice jiu jitsu, and was very polite.  He swept a guy from an ankle lock attempt and I totally missed the points. He very politely asked me about them, and I got out of my haze and awarded them. I could have penalized him, in theory, but that would probably be against the spirit of the rules.  At this point, I realized I was pretty brain dead, and a couple of the remaining referees got together and used the  reff system to finish off the day.  None of us were fresh enough to be doing the job alone anymore.  I got over ruled on a couple calls (when I was a corner). 2 of which were excessive celebration penalties after a win.  They wouldn't have made a difference in any of the matches, but I think that people need to know that they could be penalized for it, and at big events like pans, worlds, ect the referees WILL penalize you for things that may or may not be excessive, if they are feeling negative.  To me, being a bit anal about it locally, will help them keep to the straight and narrow when they get to the big leagues.

Warning: Rant:
This tournament is labeled the "Provincials"  but it is open to people who aren't from Ontario. This is m biggest pet peeve about it.  I know it's just a label, but when you are trying to build the sport into a model that follows other olympic sports, and are trying to make it legit.  Having Americans compete in it, makes the name a sham.  There were some great competitors out, from non-ontario, and it's great that they come to the events we have here, because it gives our guys good matches, but I feel like the tournament called provincials is not the place for that to happen. I have the same issue with the IBJJF "Nationals" and grapplers quest "world championships" and even the IBJJF "worlds" and "Pans".  When I told my co-workers about the tournament they were like "oh yea, so if you win you go to nationals?"  no... "oh, is there qualifiers for it?"  no... "oh, so why is it provincials?"  who knows.

End of rant.

Alright, now that I have that little rant out of the way, let's talk about my first competition back in 7 months.  As you probably know, at the Ontario Open last year, I got kimuraed and my shoulder wasn't to happy about it.  There are some tears in there now, and it took pretty much 6 months of not using it a lot and doing physio ect to get it to a manageable state.  I did have a surgery scheduled for February, but have since canceled it.   I was pretty nervous about competing with it, but it held up fine.

In my weight class, I faced Natalia in the first round.  We fought a long long time ago, when I think I was still a white belt! She arm barred me pretty quick.  She is also coming off some time off, from over training and being burnt out.  It was awesome to see her back on the mats, and having fun.  I won that first fight by kata ha jime, which is like a collar choke from 1/2 having there back.   In the final, I faced my more local (and less one sided) nemisis, Tiffany.  I had a good plan going into the match, and almost executed it, but left my arm in the wrong spot and she took care of that pretty quickly.  I cannot make any mistakes fighting her!   we are now 3 wins for Tiffany, 2 wins for me.  I hope to even that score back up in 2014 :).

In the absolute, which was actually the same 4 competitors, because like I mentioned earlier, we were all together, I drew Caitlin in the first round.  The only time I had competed with Caitlin in the past was at a zombie house back when we were both blue belts.  We had a great round and I had scored 2 armbars on her back then.   I got a good judo throw on her to side control, and managed to maintain that position for a few minutes,  I got knee on belly a few times, but didn't maintain it long enough most of the time to score the points.  I was looking for mount, armbars, chokes, taking the back, but her defense was very good.  I got sloppy on an armbar, and the match spiraled out of control in a hurry.  We ended up with her on my back out of bounds and when we reset in the middle I quickly got the hook out, and scrambled like crazy.   I don't remember what the score ended up being at the end, but it was a little to close for comfort.  I hope she competes a lot in 2014, because it was a really really fun match!

In the purple+ absolute final, I faced Natalia again.  She fought Tiffany in the first round, and won on points.  SO we had both had a full 8 minute length match. 8 was a weird choice for match length. Purple belt matches are 7, and black are 10, not sure where the 8 came from, because we were supposed to be fighting black belt rules.  Or maybe they went down to brown, since brown was the highest in the division.  That actually makes sense.  Anyway,  I don't remember how the match started, but I ended up in side control, and was looking for armbars and knee on belly some more.  I got my hand in deep in her collar and got a paper cutter choke for the win.

The last match of the day was against Tamara, who won the blue belt absolute.  This was the match for the trip.  It was black belt rules, 8 minute match.  I don't remember exactly how it started either, but we ended up coming up, she was trying to get to my back and I was like "Oh hey, black belt rules, let's go for a knee bar".  I admit, it was in the back of my head all day to try to get a leg lock of some kind, I blame Egor the leg lock king.  We ended up with me turtled fishing for the knee for quite some time, not a very exciting bit of jiu jitsu there, but I realized she was sitting to heavy for me to get roll and extension for the knee bar so I grabbed her foot for the toe hold instead.  I rolled through and got the tap.

Going into this tournament, my only real goal was to not get hurt.  coming off of the long layoff, which was just coming off of another layoff from a concussion, I really just wanted to be able to go home in one piece and be able to compete again soon.  The trip was always in the back of my head, but I wasn't going into the day thinking "I am going to win that trip".  That being said, man, am I ever glad I did.  It was an amazing birthday present to myself to earn it.  I was semi-planning on going to pans anyway, but I just spent 1600 bucks on my car, so that plan was a bit up in the air as of the week before the tournament.

So, it was a pretty great day for me,  It was also a pretty good day for my team!  We had a good sized group out, I think about 18 competitors or so, not bad for a club who's 4th year anniversary is coming up! The kids looked great out there. They didn't all win medals, but they showed great jiu jitsu and a great attitude.

One thing that was pretty funny for me to see was some of them being a little to active and not holding a position long enough to get their points.  We always encourage them in the gym to not camp out and to keep moving, but they took it a bit to far and went mount, side, mount, side, mount side, back and forth, for like 1 second each. I guess it's something we will have to clarify a bit with them when the roll.  One thing I saw from a lot of the kids divisions was kids getting to mount and not going anywhere from there.  It's the downside to not having any submissions, but it lead to some pretty frustrated kids, who just got stuck in mount for 3 minutes.  Let's be honest, if all the person in mount is doing is trying to stay there, it's really really really hard to get out.  I feel like stalling could/should still be called from there, if they aren't looking to go to the back control, or something. I don't really know what the solution is to this.

It was great to see Brad out competing again.  He had a pretty long layoff for his tooth situation and ended up taking home the gold medal in his division after a very close final match.  Will be good to have him back on the tournament circuit with the rest of us crazies.

I could write a paragraph about every single team mate who competed, but that would get pretty boring for you guys, so I will just add 1 more thing about all that.  It was great to see Stephen earn a couple silver medals.  He's had a pretty rough go of things, with touch draws, close matches and has been kept off the podium at blue till now.  He avenged a loss from earlier in the year, and showed some pretty slick jiu jitsu through out the day.

Last bit about my teammates competing I swear.  Alasdair and Bruce had a really exciting match.  There was quite the crowd watching them and it was intense!  Alasdair won on points after Bruce evaded and gutted out of all his submission attempts.  I think these two will have a great friendly rivalry going for 2014.

Pura closed it's doors for the day for this tournament, so everyone could come out and support the team.  It was AMAZING to have so many people out cheering, hanging around, and supporting us competitors.  It really helps when you are in a tough match to hear someone cheer for you.  I've been to tournaments completely alone, and it didn't really bother me that much, but after having so much support and seeing the team all together like that, I never want to compete alone again.  By the time my absolute was over, there wasn't a lot of people left, but a few stuck around and it was amazing to be able to share that experience with them.  I totally don't blame, or hate on, or hold it against anyone who didn't stick around, those kids were from there from like 8am, and I didn't finish fighting till at least 8pm.  The fact that so many non-competitors came out to watch, and that so many competitors stayed longer then they needed to was amazing.  So, Thank You ALL for your support at the event, and every day at the club.

Changing gears again...

It was sad to hear/see that someone had stolen all the gold medals and a lot of the silvers.  Word on the street is it was some random kids, but no one will every probably know.  This just highlights the need for more staff at events like this.  The OJA handled the situation though, and will be mailing out the medals to all the people who did not get one.  They had a set for doing the awards and pictures for though, which was nice.

This tournament wraps up the 2013 season in Ontario.  There isn't any more competitions until January.  January and early 2014 is looking pretty busy, with a couple sub onlys, ascension, pro trials and a mysterious tournament from the cbjjf apparently coming to town.  The OJA sub only is going to be in Kitchener, which will be a pretty good change of scenery.  I like that the OJA is moving tournaments around the province, I know the GTA has a pretty good chunk of the competitors in the povince, but contrary to popular belief, Toronto isn't the centre of the universe, and they should be willing to make a short trip out of their bubble for a few events a year.

I think that's about it.  I feel like I am missing some things that I wanted to talk about, but this is pretty long now, So I guess they can wait, or be forgotten or whatever.   I am planning on writing a 2013 recap/ summary/looking back post in the new little while It will probably be combined with a looking forward to 2014 type things.  Highlight the events I am looking forward to, and my goals for the year.

Cheers!  See you on the mats!

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