By Sean Korsgaard
Crowds and fighters both packed into the Meadow Event Park on Saturday, June 24, for the US Grappling Richmond Regional tournament. Matches in both Brazilian jujitsu and submission grappling were held all day, with some fighters finding pain, some finding glory, and some finding both in a tournament that saw intense matches and highlights come in almost by the minute.
For Chrissy Linzy, one of the three owners of US Grappling, one of those highlights is just being back in Caroline County.
“It’s always great to come back to the Meadow Event Park, they’re one of my favorite venues to host these tournaments at, because they’re so helpful and work with us every step of the way,” said Linzy. “Turnout has been great this year, especially our women’s division, which has exploded over the last few years.”
Around 40-50 gyms were represented at the tournament, coming from as far north as Philadelphia and as far south as Georgia, with fighters ranging in age from as young as 4 and as old as their late 60s. Hundreds of spectators came in and out of the Farm Bureau Center throughout the day as well.
Steven Parsons, a resident of Glen Allen and a member of United Front Brazilian Jujitsu in Richmond, is one of a handful of local participants in the tournament, fighting in the Men’s No Gi Advanced category, and eventually coming in third for his weight class. He credits his strong performance to three things: his sensei, Carlos David Oliviera, lots of dedication, and a little bit of home field advantage.
“I love it up here, I come up here for the state fair, and have been going to Kings Dominion since I was a kid, it’s cool to be able to do a grappling tournament in familiar territory, close to home,” said Parsons. “I’m out here, having fun, doing what I love, and everyone here’s having a good time, and that’s all that matters.”
There are several key stylistic differences with Brazilian jujitsu and submission grappling compared to other martial arts like taekwondo, kung fu or muay thai, the biggest being that there is no punching or kicking, so the resulting matches resemble judo or wrestling much more than other martial arts and combat sports. Another difference is there are no forms or katas to learn, with Brazilian jujitsu being much more focused on sparring, and is a much more fluid sport.
Another difference is that there are no set time limits for matches, which can result in some wildly different match ups, as Linzy points out.
“Matches can typically last between 4 and 6 minutes, depending on the skill and age of the combatants,” said Linzy. “Matches can go on far longer, in one case we had a match go on for 3 hours, but for every match that lasts 20 minutes, there is one over in 20 seconds, anything can happen on the mats.”
US Grappling will be returning for another regional tournament on December 9, and Linzy will be the first to extend an open invitation to anyone who wants to participate or just come out and watch the matches.
“The sport has really exploded over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot more people of all ages, both men and women, which as someone who has been involved with the sport for years, is really great to see,” said Linzy. “If you want to try it out, registration for December opens in a couple weeks, and if you just want to watch, we don’t charge spectators, so come on out and see the sport for yourself.”