Though Alliance is mainly known as a school of armed combat,
grappling has always been a part of our curriculum. We devote
probably 20% of our time to this subject, as it is related to the
larger picture of self defense. Much of the time is spent on standing
grappling, escaping hold downs, striking, kicking and gouging, and
using or fighting against weapons while in close contact or on the
ground. Very little time is spent on straight up one-on-one sportive
However, when we heard about this tournament, and that was going to be right here in town, the focus of our training went to more competitive oriented grappling for about 3 months. Everyone already had their conditioning at a decent level, so that wasn't a factor. Still, trying to put together all the aspects needed to compete in both gi and non-gi grappling in such a short time was a big bill. But, it was one which the Alliance crew threw themselves into wholeheartedly.
In the end, not all of our folks who trained could make the tournament. Our two heavyweights were out for various family reasons, one of our ladies couldn't compete because of school, and I was sidelined with a last minute injury. In any case, we still had four of ours on the mat; Lily Gold, Michael Gray, Chris Jones, and Kurt Piller.
The day started off with a seminar on wrestling takedowns by the Ithaca College wrestling head coach, Marty Nichols. He has a great style of teaching, and is clearly an master on the subject. This went on for about 45 minutes and then they got underway with the kids and teens divisions. These were great fun to watch, and the teens pulled out some wild moves. One kid tried a flying armbar, failed, scrambled up to his feet and then threw a rolling knee bar just that fast in the action. Wow!
Because the tournament was a new one, the attendance in the lower belt gi divisions was light, and so most of our crew got to wrestle both in the white and blue belt divisions, which was nice. Because no other women signed up for the gi division, Lily asked to be allowed to wrestle with the guys, and was allowed to compete as well. Very cool.
In the end, for the gi division, Kurt Piller took 2nd place and Michael Gray took 3rd place in Lightweight White Belt, and Chris Jones took 2nd place in Middleweight White Belt.
After a short break to watch the professional matches, which had some great action, it was time for the no-gi competition.
Everyone competed in this division as well. There were many more people competing in the no-gi, and because the age and skill brackets got "compressed" (this being a new event) the level of skill for "beginners" was very good, indeed. Though the boys didn't fare as well as they had in the gi division, they all put on a good show, worked hard on the mat, and had fun. This was the first time they have ever gotten to play with people outside of our school, and considering we spend most of our time on other subjects, they did real well.
For us, the no-gi division belonged to Lily Gold, who defeated her opponent in a tough match by 7 to 2, to take the 1st place in the Women's No-Gi Beginners. Hats off to her opponent, Sylvia, the only other woman who stepped up to compete in the tournament.
Overall this was a great event, and the hosts, organizers, staff, and competitors are all to be commended. Everyone there that I spoke to was very nice, interested in what each other were training in, and so on. The wrestling was tough but clean, and the referees did a good job.
While this type of competition training will never become our "meat-and-potatos" here at Alliance, it is sometimes fun to go and compete just as another outlet, in the same way we did a few years back with the Karate Tournament Invasion.