Post-Grappling Industries Toronto: Italian Edition Commentary
“I know it was tough for you at first, but I am happy to see people finally supporting your work.” –Melissa Biscardi
A word of caution before you proceed, the opinions and views expressed are my own. They are brutally honest and I urge you to proceed with caution, as a few readers my be offended by my following statement. I hope everyone reading this can keep an open mind, we are still far from perfection and we hope that with every event whether it is negative or positive criticism we learn and grow from every experience. Thank you in advance.
Before I give you my thoughts on Saturday`s event, I want to announce the launch of Grappling Industries new wing of sponsorship opportunities. We are looking for athletes who compete everywhere and are on the right path to one day becoming Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts. This is a very exciting time for Grappling Industries as we constantly expand our ideas and horizons.
This past weekend was Grappling Industries 14th event and like the previous events, a successful one at that. I’d like to believe that we’re doing something right. Our numbers don’t lie and the continued support we receive from the top teams, leads me to this belief. Am I wrong to assume so? Maybe, but I don’t organize and run these events to bolster my ego. I do them because I want to give the BJJ community a place to test their skills and grapple among some of the best gyms, enabling them to grow as athletes. We have never sold the idea that we were the best, nor have we ever tried to, we simply said “we’re different” . We are a round robin tournament and we believe in BJJ and we’re willing to invest in our
tournament and our competitors by offering them grand prizes. While we appreciate and thank all our sponsors their financial support, we wouldn’t get past our first event if we relied solely on them. All we really ask for in return is the recognition that we are indeed “different” and that no other tournament has been able to achieve such success. Do you see what we are trying to evolve into? Do you even notice us? Do you follow our calendar?
A lot of talk has stemmed from our last event, regarding some of the referees decisions, and I’d like to address those by saying; a referee’s decision is absolute and final. A referee does not need to discuss or explain any call with a spectator, coach, or competitor. And at no point, should any referee be berated, belittled or harassed in any manner. Going forward, we’re going to enforce a strict zero tolerance from any harassing behaviour towards referees, be it parent, spectator or coach. If a competitors feels as-if a wrong call was made, there is a protocol in place for that. This doesn’t mean any decisions will be overturned, it just means that the call will be reviewed and can be used for future examples. I would like to address 3 calls that were made and with relevant importance: Patricia’s, Amir’s, and Joshua’s. While I did not see any of these fights myself, they are currently under review and awaiting final assessment. Rest assured, we have discussed these affairs with all camps involved, and we are confident in our resolution on how to proceed in the future. We understand that sporting events may not always bring out the best in people. It’s a competition, we get it, tempers flare when adrenaline spikes and spectators and coaches only want the best for their team. This is why we proceed with caution and try our best never to enable any negative behaviour. We appreciate all those who were gracious enough to apologize to our reefs and staff for their outbursts. We hold a great respect for all our referees and we will continue to support them. Just remember, their only interest is the safety of each competitor and nothing else. We just hope all those watching can accept and understand this.
Registration: We will no longer accept any registration past our deadline. We promote every event via our website, Facebook, and email therefore we urge anyone looking to participate to register early, and not 3 hours before the hard deadline. In return, we will publish a competitor’s list 5+ days prior to the closing deadline to all major events in an effort to help those who are still undecided. We advise, that waiting till last minute doesn’t benefit you at all. On the contrary, if we knew 5 days in advance that we had surpassed our registration goal, then we would be able to offer more in terms of prizes. Even after giving away tens of thousands of dollars in tournaments, we have always realized we have a lot of profit left over, and we believe it should be given back to the competitors or reinvested into future events. All this to say that registering after the deadline is not accepted and we will no longer cater tardiness. We will happily forgo the extra money, if it means we can maintain order for both competitors and us. Many don’t realize the impact even one small change can have on these events and while we don’t expect you to understand, we do expect you to respect our deadlines and the process.
Videos: Yes we promise you videos, but where are they? We have them. Please trust us. The videos from Toronto’s February and April’s event will be up in the following weeks. The videos have proved to be a slight challenge, but we are confident that we will have the issue resolved by our next planned event on July 20th, we just ask for your continued patience as we seek new methods in catering the amount of videos that we now have to take care of. Who knows, maybe we’ll surprise you one day.
Our next Toronto event is scheduled for July 20th . We have a reserve on a nice venue, and are in the final stages of negotiations. This show might prove to be our biggest and most spectacular show to date. The tournament will feature new Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals for all divisions and even additional medals for kid’s divisions. The event will also feature 7 grand prize trips; 4 to the Miami Open and 3 to the NoGi Pans in New York. Miami Open Grand Prize Trips go to White, Blue, Purple/Brown Male Absolutes, and Women’s Blue+ Absolute. NoGi Pans Grand Prize Trips go to -168 Advanced, +168 Advanced Male Absolutes, and the Advanced Women’s Absolute. The event will also feature a new backdrop with a podium and photographers set up around the venue to capture the event in depth. We are aiming for 700+ competitors for this huge event. Sponsors have already signed on board citing that the event’s philosophy is sick.
April 13: Day of tournament. The day ran smoothly, we have never had an easier time completing the brackets/schedule nor unloading, setting up, and especially ripping it apart. The rip down was one-of-a-kind with over 50 people involved, they handled themselves like a swarm of louses just absorbing the mats as they passed by them. The event started late, yes I admit we started at 9:11am opposed to 9am and ended at an impressive 4:23pm. Pretty effective organization to say the least. However, none of it would have been possible if it wasn’t for our amazing staff and collaborators. The referees all worked their asses off, and the table workers were exceptionally gracious and courteous which we thank you for that.
Why only 10 mats? Seneca thought our 14 mat layout was too much for the room and would cause an issue in case of an emergency. Therefore, we thought it best to side with the venue regardless of our previous negotiations, safety first , right? Don’t fret, we plan on reverting back to our planned 14 mats layout right away.
I still cannot believe how many people came out to help us; they were patient, quick and eager to help with what ever was asked. A huge props has to be given out to Joshua Jerome and PK for helping us set up as they did last time, their help is so useful and appreciated; they know we love them. Cat M, we thank you so much for coming to handle our weigh-ins on Friday night and back again to work tables on Saturday; Cat also contributed to much of the tailor jobs you saw on Saturday; she does great work and we are appreciate all that she does. Every single table worker and referee should know we had a good show because you all had a good show, without you there is no us.
We have built some great alliances with people like Jorge Britto and Elliot Bayev, as well we are proud to be backed by the Ontario Grappling Alliance who believes (and I mean truly believes) in what we are trying to do. Coaches everywhere have been jumping on board, and teams swarming our event in greater numbers. We need to give a huge shout out to Rohit Seth for his awesome gift to our company, he gave us the SplitDraw scoreboard programs which we loved so we can use them at all our events consistently, we are very thankful. Melissa was right, at the start it was tough for us; people didn’t like us and thought our ideas were far-fetched. However, with enough perseverance we have overcome the hustle but still continue to hustle anyways. We are proud to be finally established in both Ontario and Quebec as a strong and prestigious event. One with lots to gain from, at least this is my hope for all those attending and competing at our event. We never knew if we would reach this level, but we are so thankful to the thousands of competitors who have come our way over these past 14 shows. We do it for all of you; we really fucking love this jiu-jitsu stuff, is what I am trying to say.
While speaking about coaches I must touch on this. As long as you are the head coach or noted as a full time instructor at your club, then we’d like to offer you a free coach’s pass to our event, in an effort to support your students. Please note, that your name must be listed on the guest list ahead of time, if not you’ll be subject to the spectator fee in order to gain access. This is very much like registration except free, just send us a message via our website or Facebook page that you need your name put on the list.
The last thing here I want to touch on is that over the last several events we have drastically cleaned up our pit between mats by not allowing any non-competing fighters, coach’s, kids or spectators into it. This is the only way for an event to run in a safe and organized fashion. All inquiries can be made through our weigh-in desk at the front of every mat layout from outside the barricades. If the desk doesn`t have the answer, then they will surely do their best to reply to you in a timely manner by going to get the answer for you.
The Sponsors: We appreciate our sponsors and thank them for all their support. However, you may notice a few of them disappearing in the following months. Grappling Industries has grown, we’ve come a long way from the “little tournament that could” and we’d like our sponsors to recognize that as well. The ones who haven’t or can not, will leave us with little choice. With Fear The Fighter jumping on as our 2013 title sponsor, they are proud of us and believe in our work; we look forward to a mutually benefiting relationship. Also, people like Greg King from VVV Fight Co. and Redstar BJJ’s Egor have kept us in the loop for so long and allowed us to reach a point where of all Canadian shows these two big BJJ companies in Canada supported us longer and with more stuff than any other event. We are loyal to them and treat them like family, brothers, just another perk of being part of the team.
Gabriella Mischel Rapone, is by far one on the resourceful and tenacious females I have ever come to know. “That chick gets shit done.” Gabriella “The Bulldog” Mischel held down the fort for much of Friday night and Saturday morning, making sure everything got taken care of at the weigh-ins, to feeding the staff on time to making sure everyone’s questions or concerns were answered in a timely manner. However, this isn’t Gabriella’s main task. Her years as successful online entrepreneur, has left her with varied expertise. Working in a male dominated world, she isn’t afraid to challenge most and doesn’t back down when faced with an obstacle. While I hate to admit it at times, she has been the driving force to many of our changes, from website, branding, advertising to her invaluable experience in event management, customer services and pr skills. Everything she has recommended to us that we have done has only helped us. Ace Maverick Media’s loyalty from us goes outmatched; we have several huge works in the projects and new brands to be released soon. We hardly ever tell her this, but we really appreciate everything you do for us. Having a “woman’s touch” has given us the ability to see past our blinders. An absolute expert in campaigning, design, public relations, organization, and knowing what the people want. She has been a huge asset to Grappling Industries and has impacted our affairs both in-front and behind the scenes. We can’t afford her, but I urge anyone looking to promote their brand online to give Ace Maverick Media a call. Big sponsorship deal to close? No problem, send in the fucking Bulldog.
Mathieu Cournoyer, that dude who owns the other 50% of this thing was on fire Saturday. We hosed him down when he set off the alarms. That dude runs an event live better than anyone in the sport, most can agree on this . His method of getting fights on mats is quicker and more efficient than other system to date We have a hell of a friendship and a hell of a company under us. I have absolutely nothing but respect for the man, if he called me at 3:30am to bail him out of a poker game where he lost a few grand to the mafia, I would not hesitate to come to his aid.
Our next event will be held on Sunday April 28. Why Sunday? We’ve gotten many requests for Sunday shows, therefore we though we’d give it a try. So far, the results have been great; many teams from Toronto have confirmed their attendance. Some include CheckMat Canada, TBJJ, Open Mat, Toronto NoGi, Joslin`s MMA, Gracie Barra London, Pura BJJ, and Fear The Fighter`s Training Academy to just name a few. We gave out 250 FREE Registrations to this event in hopes to draw teams out and others that didn`t win free registrations either, and it has played dividends. Many tournaments can`t give away that type of free registration count, however we have been able to by promoting our events in different provinces and building close working relationships with coaches to build our tour, and so far so good.
On a lighter note: I thought I would finish my thought off with a story. The only time I got to do any jiu-jitsu playing around was between gi and nogi since we had some layover before the 1:30 pm start time for nogi. I called out Mandie Adamache for a roll since she`s been talking the smack to me on the net. I pulled guard and as she stepped in and I stood up into a head inside single. I picked her right up in the air and of course not wanting to slam her down to the floor like a punk, she went for a guillotine. The thing is, she really went for it and when we hit the floor, she tried to sink it in even deeper. I was trash talking her during the entire roll telling her about how I was going to pass her guard during the roll. So when I tried to trash talk her when she had the choke, you could hear my voice crumbling in which I think I said, “it doesn’t matter, you’re still a white belt.” I proceeded to take my head out and pass the guard. 5-0 for 30 seconds of rolling, not like anyone was keeping count. Funny enough when I was getting off the mats, several referees on break during the layover were watching the 30 second roll take place and had to say, “that choke looked tight David” to which I replied “yes.” Next time, I am going to spike her on her head
Grappling Industries Co-Owner