Jiu-Jitsu: The Woes of the Tournament Promoter (As seen by a competitor)

I have never organized a tournament, nor do I think I would want to, at least not at the present time. It’s a tough gig.  I’ve been to a pretty wide variety of tournaments and have some thoughts to share about the woes of tournament organization and promotion…

For starters, choosing a venue cannot be fun. I went to a tournament and the room was very hot. I asked the promoter why he chose the room that he chose, and he told me that basically all he has to choose from are high school gyms (in order to keep the tourney affordable.) Here’s the clincher: most high schools don’t have a good way to cool the volume of air in a gymnasium, so a tournament from late spring to early fall put on by a smaller production may inherently be uncomfortably hot…

On the flip side of this, there’s a submission only tournament that I absolutely love, Mission Submission based in Edinboro PA. The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is known for their wrestling program, so naturally they have some pretty nice facilities for grapplers. I’ve encouraged the tournament promoters to expand their event to two (or more) times a year, unfortunately good venues are in high demand, and planning things intelligently can be very hard, thus they are limited as far as when they can use the wonderful venue that they use for their single event.

Secondly, good referees can be very difficult to find. Many people in the BJJ community have a difficult time understanding the various rule sets out there, and really training a referee to understand advantages can be a daunting task. If you don’t like what you see, offer up your services at some point, many tournaments will be really happy to have someone understands points and advantages.

Support for tournaments isn’t great. They’re relatively pricey, and when done incorrectly can feel like a tremendous waste of time. I feel strongly that if we as a community want good tournaments to come through, we need to show up in force when they do. I love websites that advertise the various tournament series to allow people to plan their competition calendars, but at the end of the day even that is difficult to keep up with.

I am not saying all of this to put down tournaments, rather to make you, the reader, aware of the difficulties that face tournament organizers. I recommend reaching out to anyone in your region who puts together tournaments and offering them kind words and any help you may be able to offer. It’s often a difficult a frustrating experience, but if enough people support a local event, it can be very rewarding.

On the other side of this, I think that tournament organization should be done with great care. I feel that they are often too expensive, which results in fewer people showing up. I also feel that often they are run inefficiently. It is important to consider these factors when organizing tournaments, if you only expect 3-4 people in a bracket $80+ may not be an acceptable rate to charge.




Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj


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