A Judo boys first BJJ tournament experience...

Bubble Boy

Black Belt
Oct 15, 2003
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So myself and a fellow judo buddy Matt arrive at the tournament gym. This was to be our first BJJ tournament. We've done numorous Judo tournaments.
The air-conditioning is broken in the gym. This is Phoenix, Arizona at 111 degrees, so the building is a sauna in hell.
We sign up ($30, no t-shirt) and I ask about divisions, i.e.: "...is there a novice, intermidiate, advanced division, or is it by belt?" They say there is no divisions, everyone just fights everyone. I think this is kind of cool. So I ask about weight and they say it's 175 and under, or 176 and over. My heart beats a little faster, but I'm still ok with that. I weigh in at 173. Now I'm relaxed! I'm on the heavy end of my weight division.

As I enter the gym some red flags start popping up.
The first: The matted competition space is incredibly small. I counted the mats and got 24' x 24' (that's 24 feet by 24 feet). On hard wood floors with zero protective matting outside the competitive space. Yikes. This would be absolutely unheard of at a Judo tournament. You can use 24' just working up to your throw...
Another thing. Not a medic or medical personal in sight. No medic. Hmmm.
Another thing. The gym is full of gangster wannabe's. I mean it was like all these posing tough guys and strutting billy badasses everywhere. I'm not talking about the competitors, I'm talking about the crowd. 16 to maybe 23 years old.

Me and Matt decide we're going to go ahead and compete despite the risky facilities and lack of on site medical. So we're relaxing and watching the kids division, when suddenly a fight breaks out in the bottom row of the bleachers and spills out onto the floor and even onto the mat space where the kids are competeing! It's a brawl with about 20 guys involved. People are shouting "Fuck you bitch" etc. They finally clear it up and kick some of the people out.
Matt and I still decide to stick with this thing and compete.

Finally they call up the adult gi division. Mind you the entire time we were waiting there were small pockets of disturbances in the bleachers and the such. I put on my gi. I'm called to the 176 + mat to compete and my heart sinks, but I'm ready to go. Not sure why I was going against the big boys, but that's where I was. I'm standing by the scorers table ready to go, when suddenly another huge brawl breaks out. I see one guy unzipping his fanny pack and put his hand inside. Punches are flying and people are screaming. Again, 20 or more people.

This all finally settles down, the gangster wannabe's disperse. Then, just as I'm ready to go again, this beer bottle comes flying out of nowhere and strikes the guy standing right next to me and explodes and I'm covered with beer. Somehow the scorers table gets flipped over as people are going at it again, and I'm somehow in the middle of this third huge brawl. The mats are covered in beer. I see the fight roster in a puddle of beer with all the names smeared together. My buddy Matt grabs my gi and pulls me out of the mess. He says: "I'm outta here!" I reluctantly agree and we call it a day.

Anyway, we got our money back, as did at least half the competitors. As we were leaving the cops were pulling up, and there was still fighting going on inside.

What a poor, poor showing for BJJ. I can't tell you how excited I was to get to try Judo against BJJ. What a joke of a tournament. I hope this was an anamoly, and not a typical tournament, because I still want to compete in a BJJ tournament. Sad.

This event was called "Desert Quest", put on by Roland Serria I believe, in Mesa, Arizona. What a crock.
LOL. Welcome to Arizona..

With that said, good it'll give you time to work on your newaza.
That's about par for the course for BJJ tournaments. ;^}
Christ, who arranged the event, the Hell's Angels?
Wow. I've been to only one BJJ tournament before, but it was nothing like that.

The mat space is usually small (BJJ doesn't take up as much room). However, at the tournament I went to there were medical personnel. Also I don't remember a single brawl breaking out. Everyone seemed reasonably cool.

I think you just went to a crazy one. And why were they serving/letting people carry in beer?
Balto said:
I think you just went to a crazy one. And why were they serving/letting people carry in beer?

Poor organisation, evidently.
That's is the hands down worst run tourney I've heard of !!!!! Try again at a bigger venue . I've been to alot and none had beer or fights ...Some people almost threw down a couple of times but calmer heads prevailed . Stick with it ..Glad to hear you didn't get caught up in the B.S. .
Thanks for the comments. The beer was snuck in by some idiot. It wasn't being served. I'm going to try a bigger venue next time. I think this was a "ghetto tournament" that me and my dog toto stumbled into...
Hooley Dooley. What a poor showing from the "organisers". And what a pity after all your training to get rorted from the competition you were so looking forward to. Heck at least you got your money back!
i've never even heard of anything like this ... they serve liquor at a tournament? thats just asking for trouble

and the no rank thing is ridiculous just like the weight classes someone under 180lb could go against a 250lb guy i would never compete in tourney like this ... this is definitely an exception you should try a diff place
I've often thought of taking the trip and competing in that tourney. Thank God I didn't...
u should have had a few beers before getting on the mat..wouldhave taken the edge off...lol
Bubble Boy said:
I think this was a "ghetto tournament" that me and my dog toto stumbled into...

Pretty sharp observation.

That's fucking insane man, glad this isn't our second stabbing thread. Sounds like it could have been easily.
Sounds like the same old Arizona I know. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and I moved to the midwest when I turned 18. I sure dont miss that place...there are gangbangers everywhere and someone is always starting something.

As far as the BJJ tournaments go that was not what you can expect to see at a quality run event so you should try another one and I'm sure you will have a better time at the next one.
Your only mistake was assume the competitors got to fight. Clearly it is the spectators that compete on the day, competitors get to sit on the mats & watch.
wow dude, go to a bigger touney if you can. a grapplers quest or naga is probably the best. lots of divisions and well organized.
Hey BubbleBoy, where do you train in Phoenix?...I want to take Judo in Phoenix, only good place I know of is Phoenix Grappling...Right now its just garage grappling with some friends from work...