IBJJF Houston Open-1st tourney of the year

This past weekend was jam packed full of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as I worked and competed in the Houston Open. I spent some 20 hours over the course of two days watching Jiu Jitsu as a score keeper. To be completely honest, it's probably the longest time I've ever watched that much Jiu Jitsu in the 8 years since I started. I felt very lucky to have gotten an inside look at the sports aspect of Jiu Jitsu.

There were some tremendously exciting matches at this event. I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat during certain blue, purple and black belt division matches. It was no easy task to hold back my enthusiasm while scoring a match. At times during some of the matches I became so engaged that I starting having sympathetic adrenaline rushes, which inevitably led to thoughts about my impending match which was to take place some 18 hours later.

It was interesting to see how some competitors prepared themselves before matches, the strategies they played out, and the techniques they executed. Before matches I saw some variations on how competitors got into the "zone". Some prayed, some danced and others slapped themselves all over. It was good to know that my dancing and jumping around before a match wasn't that as strange after all. I saw a few competitors who seemed to play a strong points game and I also saw competitors who played more so to submit.

In some of the blue, purple and black belt matches I saw "beautiful" Jiu Jitsu being used. I saw techniques that I'd like to drill. The most amazing match was a super tough adult male purple belt who was missing half his arm. His grips were unique and seemed hard to break. He won his division by submitting both his opponent with arm bars. It was the only purple belt match that had everyone in the bleachers cheering. It was inspiring and wonderful!

It was interesting to see variations in refereeing styles. Although they all go through the same classes to become an IBJJF referee, I noticed that some were more inclined to give out advantage points while others tended to give out disadvantage points for stalling. For the most part, I agreed with the calls. I think they did a great job and after working with them, I have a greater understanding and respect for what they do. They work very hard and have to make tough decisions but because of their love for Jiu Jitsu they just do it.

Working the event gave me an inside perspective into the behind the scenes action of running a large scale tournament. There is so much that goes into making sure that matches start on time, the competitors are checked in correctly, that the brackets are correct and every one is trained correctly on how to do their job. After seeing what they do, I realized the ring coordinators have a really difficult job. If they make a mistake it can lead to a huge mess up. I have the utmost respect for their work.

I was so proud of our team. In total we had eight competitors come down from Austin and one from Houston. Georgette did an awesome job in the blue belt open placing 2nd. We both got default golds for our division because no one signed up. Courtney did an excellent job for her first tournament and placed 3rd in her division. Rebecca is getting better and better every time I see her compete. Vidush placed 1st in his division. Anthony, Travis and Austin did well also. I am super proud of them all! I learned a lot from my match and won't make those mistakes again. This experience has become additional motivation for me to move forward with.

This tournament made me realize what I love about Jiu Jitsu. I love the unity and camaraderie in Jiu Jitsu and the bottom line is..... I love to do Jiu Jitsu. But in the future I will not work an event and compete on the same day. It's going to have to be one or the other. Watching Jiu Jitsu that much before a match really stressed me out. I admire those who can change gears like that, but I have to prepare myself the best way I know how to before a match so I can be at top performance. I had so much fun at this event! I met and talked with some of the most awesome people and finally, I learned some new strategies that I look forward to implementing into my upcoming matches. Roll on!

p.s. Big thinks to Donald Park for coming all the way to Houston and spending both days coaching the team!


  1. Thanks for this fabulous post. Very interesting to hear about "behind the scenes" at the matches.


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