So for everyone who doesn’t I kind of stumbled into working for NAGA, a group that puts on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments, about three years ago. It has definitely been a huge help in my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu career. It’s helped me understand what goes into putting on a successful tournament, how brackets are made, the rules and how they can sometimes differ from tournament to tournament, and finally, as they have evolved over the past three years, I have seen the changes, and what changes make everything run a little smoother. This past weekend was the NAGA Midwest. After the Last NAGA they had in Chicago had an insane amount of people come to the tournament, Kipp Kollar decided to make the tournament two days, instead of the traditional one. This made the tournament run much faster, and keep everyone, including the workers much happier. Up until this most recent NAGA I had been on permanent table worker. Which is fine by me I like being able to help people out and make brackets, occasionally I would referee when there was a need. This time though Kipp actually told me to referee some, because he wanted me to ref more.
On the first day of competition, we had adults compete gi and no gi. I was at the women’s table getting everything set up and was happy to see all of the new females. When I was a white belt I felt lucky to see more than two females at a NAGA, but this past weekend, there was enough white belt and beginner females to have three or four weight classes an d multiple females in each weight class. I ended up having to compete because a purple belt did end up coming to compete. Her name is Fatimeh, and she apparently has been to the Olympics for tae kwon do. I had no idea, I just knew there weren’t any other females to compete against her, and NAGA keeps me around for the reason that just in case, I can jump in and fill out a female division. In no i I pulled guard, got her to the ground, and almost had an omoplata, when she went to defend I swept her and landed in a really akward position, I was in guard but facing the wrong direction. she wrapped her legs around my waist and I worked to get out but she grabbed the ankle I sprained a few weeks ago, and heel hooked me (heel hooks are allowed in the expert division of no gi at NAGA)… it stunk, and hurt but it was an interesting learning experience.
Before gi, Junior (see black belt spotlight) was giving me advice on what I should go for. He flat out told me just got for a flying armbar, she doesn’t want to wrestle you, you can set it up and just go for it. So I took his advice and went for the armbar. I almost got it too, she was surprised I had gone for it, and I’m sure if it was something I practiced a little more, she would not have been able to defend it. Anyway, no more making excuses, she got out and backed away, so I rolled back got to my feet and when she charged me I landed on top of the scramble. So again I was leading by points. I’m not sure exactly what happened after that but she kept grabbing my fingers and pulling/ twisting them. She then wrist locked me (wrist locks are allowed at purple belt in NAGA, i didn’t realize that until right before we started.) So both times I was leading by points, had good submission attempts, and even though she was about 30 pounds heavier than me I held my own. Next time I work for NAGA I think I am going to train like I am planning on competing there, just in case.
A few of my other teammates competed in Chicago. Jake won his blue belt division. Easton competed in both gi and no gi, she won her white belt gi division, and
After the first day of competition, we all went out to eat, after I ended up just going back to my room and crashing. Sunday was all of the kids divisions. I got a great surprise when two of the kids from Marcello’s showed up to compete. They got to be in different weight classes which was even better. Gabriel and Brandon? both went beginner, and won their gi and no gi divisions. I didn’t get to see gabriel compete but brendon was on my mat and I got to watch every one. He submitted his opponents easily, even after a few of them scored points on him. After he won his gi division, we needed someone to fight intermediate and he willingly competed in intermediate. The best part was, Brandon won!! Gabriel originally was in the novice division, but I convinced his parents to move him up, because after we moved him up to beginner he still did an amazing job and got first place. It was awesome to see Gabriel win since he has only been training about three months.
Overall it was a great event NAGA had about 800 competitors over two days, and from what I could tell everyone was fairly happy. I had a blast working with NAGA again, watching the new female competitors, and even getting to ref. There were a couple added bonuses, like getting to spend time with a guy named Mike Reyna. After talking to him and learning about his time in BJJ I decided to make him the next black belt interview I do. So keep your eyes peeled for it!