Great jiu jitsu weekend. On Saturday, I got to try my hand at refereeing. It was… well, harder than I thought it would be. With a gimpy back, but a desire to participate in the sport and support the growing BJJ/Sub Grappling community in the Pacific NorthWest, I help Jeff of Liberty Events as much I can with his thrice annual tournaments. I’m beginning to realize that any opportunities to compete are going to be rare and unexpected, but I can contribute in other ways. Jeff is an awesome guy who loves the sport and I honestly believe that it’s the least I can do.
And it’s not like I don’t have a great time doing it. In the past, I’ve managed the mats for him, trying my best to make sure that things are running as well as possible. While that’s fun to do, I’ve always been interested in refereeing. So, thanks to Jeff B. and Rodrigo Lopes, the host of Gracie Barra Seattle’s in school tournament last Saturday, I was able to referee a ton of matches.
Once again, it’s harder than it looks. I have a new found respect for those guys, bad calls and all. By the end of the day, I was drained, in spite of the simplified IBJJF ruleset that Jeff uses (ie, no advantages/no penalty points). Refereeing is a mental workout, as you are focused on what the athletes are doing, tracking who’s doing what, watching not only for the obvious such as passing guard, but for the more subtle calls as well. For example, under Jeff’s rules, if someone pull guard before making physical contact, they’re ceding a takedown and it’s 2 points to the opponent. If they make contact and pull guard, no points. But if they pull guard, and the opponent is controlling the leg of the guy pulling guard, that can be a takedown. Confusing? I know!
Add to this being on the lookout for stalling, illegal grips, illegal techniques (white belts! No wristlocks for you!) and trying to decide whether or when to stop the action when the athletes get too close to the edge, and there’s just a lot going on.
So, needless to say, I had a terrific time. I made more than my share of mistakes, but this was the perfect environment for my first step into refereeing. The tournament was free for the athletes, no medals were being awarded and it was really just a chance for the Gracie Barra and Foster guys to get together and tune up. There were guys tuning up for the Mundials, some white belts were rolling for the first time against people from outside their school, and some were just getting some scored, reffed matches in against people they don’t roll with every day.
Some highlights from the tournament were a terrific fireman’s carry from Albert, a white belt in our school. It was BY FAR the best takedown of the day, executed perfectly. I also got to meet the author of Side Control, a BJJ blog written by a Gracie Barra Seattle purple belt. Also, seeing all of the kids (I think about twice as many as had been registered) and how Cindy Hales handled them was terrific. When she told them (paraphrasing) “Okay guys. Try not to cry. There’s gonna be some tears, I know. And it’s okay if it happens… but try not to.” That was really funny. She is so good with the kids, and it’s great fun to watch them roll.
My staph infection has healed well. I’m off the antibiotics and am largely healed up. I went back to class on Monday for the first time in weeks and felt pretty good. I got a lot of mat time and it felt good to work out again. When I say “largely healed up” I really just mean that the hole is filled up and I have skin where I should. The skin is new and I’m just being very cautious, so I’m keeping it covered at class until it’s totally invisible.