West Coast BJJ Tournament Report September 25, 2004 San Francisco, CA
The West Coast Jiu Jitsu Championships is the new circuit for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the promoters and organizers of the United Gracie Tournaments (Ralph Gracie, Charles Gracie and Rob and Kathy Henderson). Being a long time Ralph Gracie student and friend myself, you just knew that OntheMat was going to be there capturing the action! The tournament features some of the best bracketing organization seen in a BJJ tournament, with "judo" style bracketing and mat numbering which allows a competitor to see exactly when they can expect to fight on a given mat, and when their next mtach will take place. For example, a competitor might be assigned match number 7 on Mat 4, and if he advances he could expect to fight match number 23 on the same mat. Everyone who has experienced bracketing in this style has absolutely raved about it, because they can accurately predict when their bouts would be taking place. This level of organization allows for a tournament over 300 competitors, including women, children and masters divisions with matside weigh ins, to include breaks for lunch and superfights and conclude smoothly by mid to late afternoon! Another excellent improvement made over the previous tournaments was the large chronograph timers on each of the scoretables, letting everyone know (from across the gym, if need be) exactly how much time was left during the match. The tournament still managed to have its share of surprises however. Our good friend Gilberto of www.JiuJitsuProGear.com  had a celebrity working the booth with Mundial Absolute Champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza on hand to observe the action. Jacare was as friendly as could be, and spent the majority of his time actually working the booth, chatting with fans and signing autographs, and he was quick to demonstrate to anyone who asked how his arm was (from the battle against Roger Gracie) that he was more than ready to get back on the mat! The day began with the childrens matches, then progressed from white belt on up. Some of the standouts included Kelly Paul winning the lone female purple belt match up against Jeanette Portocarrero, Marcos "Yesamo" Torregrosa winning both the middleweight and absolute purple belt weight class, and Luke Stewart defeating Gary Grate in the Brown belt light heavy class. The day would also feature three black belt superfights, some of which were put together at the last moments, which be much talked about. Dave Camarillo vs Joao Cunha Both Dave and Joao showed up ready to fight but without opponents, so despite both being on Team Ralph Gracie agreed to fight each other. The two began the match cautiously circling each other. Joao struck first by initiating a single leg takedown, but Dave used the momentum to roll into an armlock, quickly forcing Joao to tap! Kurt Osiander vs Rafael Lovato Jr. Rafael was originally slated to fight Crosley Gracie, but when Crosley signed his contract with Pride Bushido he had to pull out in preparation for his bout against Sakurai. Kurt spent the day refereeing and running assorted errands, but was more than ready and prepared to fight. The match began with circle and a battle for grips between then contestants before Rafael dropped to his famous open guard. Kurt worked for a pass but the match quickly went back to the feet. Another grip battle before Rafael sits down to guard again. Both fighters showed extreme patience at this point as each was at the strong aspect of their games. The match was stalemated for several minutes when Rafael began to very aggressively pursue the sweep. At first Kurt defended well, but when he thought he had his base Rafael came up and got the two points for a sweep. Kurt briefly worked half guard before both fighters were too their knees, and eventually to their feet. After a pause to retie their belts, another grip battle ensued before Rafael dropped down to guard again. Kurt worked a bit more frantically to pass guard, but time expired and Rafael wins 2-0. Cameron Earle vs Paulo Guillobel This match was billed as the main of the event of the day, and featured two of the top active Jiu Jitsu stars competing in the United States in Cameron Earle and Paulo Guillobel. Cameron had just won the ADCC North American Trials the week before, and Paulo is a multiple time Pan American champion. Cameron initiates the action by quickly pulling guard, contemplating going to half guard at first but then tightening up in a closed guard on Paulo. From here Cameron climbed his legs up and down and gave Paulo very little opportunity to establish a good base for a pass. This subtle battle for posture raged on until past the five minute mark, when Cameron opened up and executed a simple sweep to go up 2 points. From here it was Paulo`s turn to work the guard, and he kept he tried valiantly for a sweep, but Cameron was able to pass to side control for three more points. Cameron applied a lot of pressure looking for the submission but Paulo stayed calm and defended well. Finally Paulo was able to back to guard and then work his way back to feet where he looked for a takedown on Cameron, who stayed on his feet well and the combatants eventually pushed each other out of bounds. At the restart, Cameron jumped to close guard again, but Paulo kept a strong base, initiating the standing pass. Cameron opened his legs and was able to sweep again for two more. Paulo looked to sweep again, but with time winding down Cameron refused to budge and time expired. Cameron defeats Paulo by the score of 7-0. All and all a total of 294 matches took place in one day and the tournament ended at about 5:00 PM, which left plenty of time to go home, clean up and party (which could be another article unto itself). Ralph and Charles are planning on throwing another tournament at two undecided dates in 2005 and anticipate more surprises and improvements. See everyone then!