The past couple of months have been terrible for me in regards to training but that all changed this past Saturday. As of last weekend, I've logged in 5x training sessions and it feels great. Whenever I come out of a training lull I relish the metamorphosis from whale-jitsu to killer-whale-jitsu. I know that sounds kinda cheesy but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed a heavy weight with aspirations to reach 'medio pesado'.
So now that my schedule has cleared up enough so that I can train regularly, I can also return to posting on the blog more consistently as well. I have not had any time to review the 2000+ photos I took from the 2010 Thailand Open but I'm hoping to tackle that beast this weekend. I've had plenty of time to reflect on the tournament weekend as well recover from the two massive parties we had following. There was the after party that weekend and most recently the after/after party to thank the volunteers. Both of which I have only pockets of recollection but thankfully no permanent damage or friendships lost. For those with photos and video, please keep those private, hahaha. While I have no regrets about having an awesome time, some things are best left private and laughed about in the company of good friends.
So on about the tournament.
This year was our largest tournament yet with over 230 competitors from all over Southeast Asia, Japan, UK, Australia, Bahrain, USA and Brazil. All belt levels were represented from white, blue, purple, brown and black. With our new event space at Lumpini Hall we were able to have 4x competitions areas, 2x bullpens and plenty of room for spectators and vendors. We also hosted senior referee and BJJ black-belt, Prof Stephen Kamphuis to head our team of referees alongside local purple-belt, Mark Simmerman. The vendors we had present selling merchandise were FBT Sports, Fairtex, Kauai Kimonos, Redstar BJJ, Kombat Mouthguards and SEABJJ. This was a 2-day event with gi the first day and no-gi the second.
THE GOOD & IMPROVEMENTS FROM LAST YEAR
LOCATION: Outright I think most people were really impressed with the new space and location. Lumpini Hall is located in the northern portion of Lumpini Park which is located in central Bangkok. Easy access by BTS, MRT, taxi and of course Golden Palace Hotel shuttle-van made this a great spot. In the past we've worked in department stores but these are located bit too far from the downtown area where most would prefer to stay.
COMP AREA: And with the added floor-space we were able to add an additional competition area which prooved to be much needed with the 550 matches per day. Yes, we completed over 550 matches each day to include all divisions and weight classes. We also took measures to partition the entire area and make quite clear our policies about breaching this area. The previous year we had some tough matches and very naturally coaches/teammates fought for their students/friends. What we wanted to prevent was any confusion or suspect of tampering during the match. Thankfully this year we had no such problems and everyone was really chill.
VENDORS: We've always had great support from our sponsors but this was the first year we offered merch-tables and I wish we had done this sooner. I'm an admitted gi-whore and I'm quite familiar with how expensive it is to buy gis and such online and still have the huge expense of shipping and import-tax to deal with. So having these vendors there made it a great opportunity for competitors to do some shopping for themselves and friends back home at great prices.Thanks to:
PRIZES & MEDALS: I have to say we're pretty fortunate to be working with so many cool sponsors with really great people behind the products. So this year was no exception as we put out even more prizes. The first 100 received a custom shirt/rashguard from FBT Sports, all competitors received a tournament t-shirt and we had several lucky-draw prizes. We raffled 2x Shoyoroll gis, a complete fight-set from Fairtex, custom fitting from Kombat Mouthguards, open pick from FBT Sports, Redstar BJJ gi, rashguard/leggings from Scramble and shorts from Ground Skillz.
The medals came out bigger and heavier than last year but that was not be design, hahaha. I had down sized these by 1-2cm but that's how they turned out. I redesigned the BJJAT logo to reflect our location and I think most like the change-up. Each year is a custom design and next year will be even better. And yes, they'll be not as heavy cause for some it was like doing neck-bridges they are so heavy, hahaha.
Medalists received a copy of Submission Spirits magazine. Gold & Silver absolute winners during the no-gi day received $100 gift certificate from Budovideos.
BRACKETING SYSTEM: We implemented a new bracketing software this year that has helped a great deal and will be even better next year due to the added experience. Perhaps it's not the most obvious improvement but for anyone working with this kind of logistical nightmare, I tell you it was a big step up from what we've had to do in the past.
REGISTRATION: With our new tournament website and registration system we've taken several measures to ensure you registered correctly and therefore have proof in case of error on the part of the system, us or yourself. This includes: e-mail confirmation, at weigh-ins for your division/weight and printed brackets. Because of the amount of time it requires to re-adjust each bracket, print these out and have all the paperwork ready for each table, there are no last minute changes once registration is closed, there is no pencil-ins because someone forgot to check. We're all adults here and while you may think you're a special case, I can provided you a dozen more people that ask me to do them a favor. I would love to say yes to everyone and for all the problems to be fixed in a matter of a couple minutes but even a small change creates a logistical nightmare once things get started. I said no to a lot of you that weekend and its nothing personal, I'd be bummed too but it's what I have to do in order to keep the entire event moving along with the team that is making it possible. Remember, every single person that worked the tournament was a volunteer so BE NICE!
BULLPEN: Our first time using this system to collect the competitors in a single area in prep for their bracket. Having toughed through the first day, it worked much better for us the 2nd day and will continue to improve for next year. We may also project the brackets on-call against a sreen on either side of the event space.
POST-TOURNAMENT BLACK-BELT SEMINAR: Big thanks to Adam Kayoom, Dan Simmler and Anthony Leone for putting on an excellent seminar the Monday following the tournament. You'd think people would be all spent but we had a full house. Not only that, but we had several other black-belts joins including Makoto Ogasawara, Makoto Aramaki, Rodrigo Caporal, Stephen Kamphui, Ouchi-san & Matsumoto-san and Alexandro Machado. By the end of it, the seminar and the training after added up to 8x hours.
NOT GOOD & IT WILL BE BETTER NEXT YEAR
WEIGH-INS: There was some issue the Friday evening before the competition as we had advertised white-belts only but many remembered from last year that we had left it open. Of course not everyone has the luxury of coming in the day before to make it in time and we had to stick to our policy and turn down many of you. Cutting weight freakin' sucks and no one wants to go to bed hungry. At the same time, nearly every bracket had a few people that didn't make weight which caused us a significant slow down come Saturday morning. We were trying to be as lenient as possible since we know it's an investment to come to Bangkok to compete. While not anywhere near as expensive as going to Japan or US to compete, we still very much appreciate your support and participation. With that said, we will look into more practical and all-around fair methods of doing weigh-ins for next year. 1. We may limit this to Saturday and Sunday morning. 2. We may weigh in just before you enter the competition mat like they do at the JJFJ and you don't make weight, you're instantly DQed.
FOOD: The last two tournaments were hosted inside department stores with access to grocery store and restaurants. This year being in a park and convention space, the outside food vendors were not what people had in mind. We definitely saw this as a problem and will do much better next year to provide sandwiches and other healthy foods for competitors.
BATHROOMS: There were a total of 4x toilets at the event space but not all in the best condition. This also we're working with the manager to help improve in time for next year. We will also provide toilet paper next year.
DELAY: The toughest day is usually our first and while I believe the weekend to be a great success, we always want to do better in our execution of this event. A large part of the delay was due to competitors not making weight and having to change to different bracket. This of course has a domino effect and we were unable to complete our awards ceremony as we usually do and several went home without having collected their medals. All of which we are following up now and sending to you the winners by post. The medals are being produced now and confirmation will be sent by e-mail.
WEIGHT DIVISIONS: In previous events we've had larger disparencies in the weights but as the number of competitors grow, this disperancy lessens. Next year we will adopt a more practical weight cut-off system. Also, since we do not have a large local base of competing brown and black-belts, we were left to split them in half or by light, medium and heavy. Which of course is not ideal and not our first choice but we did the best with what we had. Our apologies to the brown and black-belts that were effected by this.
I truly believe it's an exciting time to be a part of this growing community as each year reflects a larger pool of competitors, returning competitors uping their skills and new/old friends catch up during and after the tournament. I'm so happy its done and I can return to my family, whom I owe a lot for their patience and understanding. For the next 6-months I will have nothing to do with organizing the next Thailand Open cause I need to recoup as do my buddies at the BJJAT. Thanks guys and see you all next year.
***I WILL GET TO MY PHOTOS THIS WEEKEND AND POST SOON.