23 Oct 2012
On Sunday, I had the privilege of being the official photographer at the IBJJF European No Gi Championships. It's the first time the IBJJF have run such an event and they chose the Crystal Palace National Arena sports hall in south London as the venue. In actual fact, the whole weekend was an IBJJF festival of jiu jitsu, Saturday being dedicated to the IBJJF London Open gi event and Sunday being the nogi. It's clear that the IBJJF are expanding their rosta of worldwide tournaments and also expanding the opportunities for players to fight gi and no gi. I took a ton of photos and saw a ton of brilliant matches...
I have always taken photos at the tournaments I have attended, most of them were taken because it was something for me to do while I was either waiting for my own fight or hanging around afterwards. The ADCC last year was the highlight of my photo-reporting dreams but the Euros yesterday came pretty close. There was an incredible amount of high-octane grappling action spread across eight mats. To see how an IBJJF tournament is run from behind the scenes is pretty staggering. There were ample table staff, referees (all of whom were black belts themselves), the head ref Professor Alvaro Mansur was there, runners, table staff, medal staff, first aid etc etc. It was all run incredibly professionally from my uique vantage point at the heart of the action.
As a gear nerd and reviewer, the tournament provided a great chance to see what brands the competitors were rocking. The IBJJF insist that competitors had to wear approved rank colour rashguards. Unsurprisingly there are not a lot of choices when it comes to picking products that comply to these rules. I was however pleasantly surprised to see a small number of my own designs appearing on the mats.
The fights themselves were very high level in my opinion. I saw a lot of energy, spirit and technical prowess. Everyone seemed hugely motivated and competed with both gusto and skill. It was also very interesting to see the variety of tactics deployed. Some of the more advanced fighters adopted very tricky positions, such as inverted guard, deep half guard, variations on de la riva guard and so on. It was very impressive. Some fighters were cautious and tactical, others attacked relentlessly. One of the those who fell into the latter was BJJ World Champ Michael Langhi. He was just sort of sitting there by the sideline unnoticed when an IBJJF official told me to go cover his fights. I'm glad they prompted me because he was in electric form, winning one fight by a margin of I think, something like 20 to zero or thereabouts.
The tournament gave me the chance to see a lot of friends and familiar faces, may of whom I have not seen compete before, put on their game face.
I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Euros. The whole day was hard work, very loud and at times a little stressful as I had to quickly edit, watermark and upload photos at various points during the day while eager not to miss anything on the mats. I definitely hope to do a lot more photo-reporting at big events soon.
To see more of my photographs from the event, click here.