Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Movember Rollathon 2014 Pre-Event Press Release

by Sofie Zambas

November 22nd will mark Gravity Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s 3rd Annual 24hr Movember Rollathon, a fundraiser for Prostate cancer research and bringing awareness to men’s health, beginning at 9am.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common health issues in men today. Many of us have known someone to have prostate issues due to poor diets or lack of the essential fruits and vegetables. With Jiu-Jitsu being a male dominated sport, we wanted to give back to the community by raising awareness to prevent these types of health issues.

The Rollathon, in which at least 2 people will be sparring in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) for 24hrs, will take place at Gravity BJJ in Surrey BC. Like last year, we will start the morning off with a kids cross training class, followed by the adults at 10am. This year we will be scheduling different black belts throughout the day to teach some techniques.

There will be raffle prizes given and a special Moustache Strut Off Competition in the evening at 7pm. Many companies have jumped on board to be sponsors for the event. Our returning sponsors include- Meerkatsu, Oss Gear, Fushida, Gi-Soap, Bacardi, Katana Fightwear, BJJ Depot & Tatami Fightwear. New sponsors to the event are Jiu Jitsu Journals and BC Kimono’s. We are so grateful for the support of these companies!

“This is an event we look forward to every year. We are not only helping out a good cause but we are also bringing the jiu jitsu community together outside of competition,” says organizer Sofie Zambas. “With jiu-jitsu a significantly male dominated sport, it’s important to create awareness on men’s health and prostate issues.”

The event is open to all schools and associations. We encourage moustaches, beards, goatees and any other creative facial ingenious to the event. We will also post a link for a livestream closer to the date.

Even if you’re not a BJJ practitioner, you are welcome to come down to the community event and get to know the friendly people at Gravity BJJ. Anyone who has been affected by prostate issues, directly or otherwise, is welcome to come to the event and support the cause. We would love to hear from you!!

A link to our donation page can be found here:


As well as our Facebook page:


And our Event Page Details:


If you would like further information or would like to learn how you can get involved, please contact Sofie Zambas at sofie@gravitybjj.ca or 604-780-5154.

Quotes from last years’ event:

“Big thanks to Sofie and Logan for hosting the Movember Rollathon. I believe this was the first time two different kids Jiu Jitsu clubs came together to train and all for a terrific cause! Our Apex kids had an awesome time cross training with the Gravity Crew.” Marcy Hilario, Owner at Apex Martial Arts

“Gravity BJJ’s 2nd annual Movember fundraiser is a great event for the local BJJ community. It’s an opportunity for people from the BJJ scene to get together (regardless of team/club) and have an awesome time on the mats all while helping a great cause. I had a great time at the event…Logan and Sofie are great host’s and harbor a really friendly and playful BJJ environment, which is another bonus to an already stellar event!” – Jason Gagnon, Head Coach at Genesis Martial Arts and Fitness

“The Movember Rollathon was a unique experience with open mat rolling, cool BJJ prizes from sponsors, and also a dance off. It was a very lighthearted event where Sofie and Logan were very welcoming to the rest of the BJJ community. With the help of their team, they brought together two families – immediate family and the BJJ community – to support this cause in a more active way than just simply donating money to an account.” – Eric Cheng, BJJ blue belt

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Grapplethon supporting The Raining Season, October 2014 at The Clinch Academy, Frederick, MD, USA

Event Report #9, by Judy Riley, from the Clinch Academy GrappleThon supporting The Raining Season

On Saturday, October 11th, the Clinch Academy in Frederick, MD hosted its first annual Grapplethon fundraising event to support The Raining Season Orphanage in Sierra Leone, Africa. More than 60 grapplers participated from martial arts academies near and far in this 12 hour Brazillian Jiu Jitsu extravaganza .

Participants of all ages and skill levels collected donations through sponsorships and tested themselves for 12 hours of grappling. The event featured black belt instructed seminars by Clinch Academy owner, Luke Rinehart, retired Frederick County Chief of Police, Tom Ledwell, Evolve Academy’s Mike Moses and Clinch Academy’s Adam McWilliams.

“Just being a business owner and to have the opportunity to host such an event as the grapplethon for the orphans in Sierra Leone is a huge blessing. I am thankful that I have the place, space and time to help support The Raining Season in providing for these children. I am also thankful to all my students who are eager to help and to Judy Riley for her initiative and hard work in organizing & putting this event together,” says Luke Rinehart.

Judy Riley, organizer of the event, is a brown belt in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu who trains regularly at the Clinch Academy. Her connection to The Raining Season stems from the adoption of her youngest daughter from Sierra Leone. Ms Riley says, “When I first heard of the idea of a grapplethon, it seemed an ideal way to combine my passion for martial arts with my passion for orphan care. At the time I began planning the event, the goal was to raise money for the purchase of a ‘poda’ (mini-bus) for the Center. But as event planning progressed the Ebola outbreak had become center stage to the news in Sierra Leone. It was clear that the needs of the 102 children and staff had shifted to surviving this crisis. “

On September 1st, The Raining Season implemented a lockdown of the compound to minimize exposure to the Ebola virus. Provisions such as fuel to run generators, rice, water, diapers and cleaning supplies were gathered in a rush of fundraising efforts to last a period of 3 months. The provisions are quickly being diminished. The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending a lockdown of 9 months for which funds have yet to be raised.

Founder of The Raining Season, Erica Stone Rust, explains that the cost of the basic necessities to run the center has skyrocketed due to demand. The financial strain to meet rising costs as well as implement new Ebola safeguards have placed a heavy burden on the orphanage. A quarantine room has been prepared to isolate a child if needed, an additional armed guard has been hired to patrol the gate and a home visiting doctor is being utilized to avoid exposure to the virus at the hospital. These additional expenses are not accounted for in the budget.

“Sometimes problems seem so insurmountable and too big for any one person to make a difference. I think people really do want to help, but often feel their personal contribution won’t make a difference in a crisis that spans several countries,” says Ms Riley. “I wanted my friends and training partners to know that there is an organization they could trust, whose founders I personally know, and that they could directly affect the lives of the 102 children at TRS.”

The Grapplethon provided an opportunity for the BJJ community to make a difference. Grapplers were each given a picture and name of the child they were ‘rolling’ for. They set the timer to 5 minute rounds, turned up the music, and got started. After 12 hours of rolling, they were exhausted, sweaty, empowered and accomplished as they walked away from the event. In total, grapplers, spectators and donors raised over $10,000 for the children of The Raining Season Orphanage.

“I am thrilled with the success of the Grapplethon and am so grateful for the entire Jiu Jitsu community for supporting this event. I would like to thank Luke Rinehart, owner of Clinch Academy for hosting the Grapplethon. Numerous sponsors stepped up, including Century Ford Motor of Mt. Airy, BDR Express, GAC Services, Riley Financial Services, Guru Gi, Downtown Piano Works, Enforme Interactive, Drama Rocks, Dominoes Pizza of New Market and Adventure Park USA. The generosity of these local businesses is a tribute to the good hearted people of Frederick County,” says Ms Riley.

The Raining Season Orphan Care Center continues to struggle for the safety and care of their children during the Ebola crisis. You can help provide needed supplies for the children by donating to www.helpstopebola.com. If you would like to learn more about The Raining Season, visit TheRainingSeason.org.

Updates with news about the Center and the community are published regularly via The Raining Season Blog at SaveTheOrphan.blogspot.com. The Facebook event page for the Clinch Academy Grapplethon (with more pictures etc) can be found here.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Updates August 2014

The GrappleThon concept continues to grow as 2014 begins to wind down. Since the last event report back in March, the Artemis BJJ GrappleThon supporting Kinergy raised £5,000 in Bristol. There has also been the third iteration of Performance Martial Art's Grapple-A-Thon in Springfield, OR, a 4DA Kids GrappleThon at Centurion BJJ in Panama City, FL.

There were also two GrappleThons on the same 16th August weekend: first, the NW High Intensity Training Center event in Olympia, WA, shortly followed by Jodie Bear's GrappleThon in Congleton supporting the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust. Jodie and her team have raised an incredible £6,000 so far!

There's more Grapplethon action to come this month, with Pura Vida Fighting For Kids on the 31st at Open Mat Fight & Fitness in San Diego, CA. Next month sees a stalwart returning for their second event, with another GrappleThon supporting NVRDC at BETA Academy in Washginton, DC on the 13th of September. On the same day, there will also be a Grapplethon supporting Liam Stark, over at Optimus BJJ in Laguna Niguel, CA (who have also hosted Grapplethons in the past). Finally, Gravity BJJ are into their third Movember Rollathon on the 22nd November up in Surrey, BC.

Good luck to all of you: hopefully I'll be able to add even more GrappleThons to the event page soon! :D

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Grapplethon for Dana Moore, March 2014 at Optimus BJJ, Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

Event Report #8, by Monta Wiley, from the Optimus BJJ GrappleThon Supporting Dana Moore

Over the past year Southern California has been a hot spot showcasing great unity in the BJJ Community. March 22 2014 proved to be no exception as a group of grappling martial artists gathered together in Laguna Niguel, California for another monumental Grapplethon charity event, showing their support for 24 year old BJJ blue belt Dana Moore (who recently sustained a spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the rib-cage down).

Hosted at Grant Collin’s Optimus Brazilian Jiu-jitsu academy, the event brought together over 60 grapplers throughout Southern California from Atos JJ, Checkmat, Ribiero Jiu-jitsu, Clark Gracie Jiu-jitsu and Tinguinha BJJ, amongst other top jiu-jitsu teams.

From start to finish Team Dana Moore didn’t hold anything back! This fun-filled extravaganza included over 3 hours of nonstop training, a 300 Roll Challenge, and almost every participant walking away with a raffle gift. Most importantly, it exposed the camaraderie that exists in the Southern California BJJ community.

After generating $2,505 from on-the-day donations, it’s safe to say 'Grapplethon: Team Dana Moore' was a remarkable success. The dynamic presentation and atmosphere displayed on the mats at Optimus BJJ exhibited characteristics of kindness and unification amongst grapplers, showing their support for someone in need. In a fascinating twist, we also learned from Dana’s story of perseverance to aid in our journey through life.

Here were some of the closing remarks from people who were a part of the event

Michael Cabrea (Event Participant): I had a fantastic time today! It was great supporting someone in our community! Thanks everyone for the roll. And of course thanks Dana for being such an inspiration!

Grant Collins (Owner/Instructor of Optimus BJJ): Hey guys that was awesome! It was so great having so many talented fighters in one house for a good cause. In fact it was so much fun I wanna do it every month! I want to give big gratitude to everybody who came out to support Dana Moore!

Dave Gieselman (Event Participant): The best part about this event was the sense of unconditional love and support, no questions asked, in that room.

Lynn Fillwber Moore (Dana’s Mother/ Event Spectator): What an amazing BJJ family... We are so touched and honored... THANK YOU Brettimus Weekley, Monta Wiley, Professor Grant Collins, my amazing family Alicia Moore, Lizzie Moore; Pat & Julia Fillweber Foy, Karen and Chris Sabin & munchkins, Steve Pollmann &, Samuel, Megan Foy & Travis, Frank & VeVa Thing, Lindsy Eyler & Cruz, and our awesome friends, Jefe & Caroline Weekley, April Weekley, Brooke & Dave Jakovich, Barry Draskovich, Marilyn Reeves. AND all of the raffle sponsors and donations!!! Just amazing!

Brett Weekley (Event Co-Host): I would like to say thank you to everyone for attending the Grapplethon yesterday. It is amazing to see the BJJ community come together to support a friend. Thanks again Grant Collins for opening your doors and being a gracious host for the event. I'd also like to thank Monta Wiley for organizing everything and letting me help him out. It was an honor being a part of the event and I appreciate all of your hard work and diligence in coordinating everything. A huge thank you.

Monta Wiley (Event Coordinator): Not gonna lie a little bit in tears right now (good ones btw) after this event for various reasons. I just say thanks everyone and Dana Moore you are without a doubt the real champ in the BJJ world and life.

Dana Moore (Event Recipient): Thank you so much to everyone who came out and supported me today! Made a lot of new friends today and it was great to see the familiar faces! I hope everyone had a great time and is injury free! A huge thank you to Monta Wiley, Brettimus Weekley, and Grant Collins! Can't thank you three enough!

Let just hope this Grapplethon tradition continues making a positive difference in people lives, always aiming for the same goal showing we simply we care.

Photos courtesy of Technically Sound/EsSuyFe Photography

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December 2013 NorthWest Grapplethon For Haiyan in Seattle, WA, USA

Event Report #7, by Griff Sombke, from the Grapplethon for Haiyan supporting the typhoon survivors

You know it’s a good party when you end up needing this much time to recover…

Grapplethon for Haiyan was, in my opinion, one of the most fun things I’ve ever been a part of. The fact that we had over 50 people training at midnight on Friday night says something about how other people felt about it too. It was amazing to see the whole Northwest Grappling Community coming together for a good cause. And we raised over $9,230 after expenses for the victims of the Typhoon, which was donated to the International Red Cross.

The impetus for all of this was the fear and frustration that I found myself feeling while waiting for news of my extended family in Tacloban. My wife's family live there, and while most of them managed to check in right away, we didn't end up hearing from one of her cousins and her three small children for almost a week. It hit me that, since the Grappling Community in the PNW is very Filipino, I am probably not the only one who was feeling like that. So, as a result, I decided to see if we could put something together to help, rather than just feel frustrated. Sure enough, people jumped on board, and we ended up having a total blast while raising a gang of money. If you were there, you know. You learned some moves, sparred with some new people, and generally had a blast. There was no drama, politics, or anything negative. Just a bunch of people training and smiling.

The biggest challenge I personally ran into was that we ended up using the wrong crowdfunding platform, FundRazr. If you are going to donate to a charity overseas, you're really going to want to check and make sure that your platform can handle that. Otherwise, things get messy. You end up paying way too much in commissions and fees as a result. That cost a good chunk of money right there, and ended up being our single largest expense. I think, unless you are way more savvy with the potential tax implications of this kind of thing, you really want to stick to charities based in your own country. But, honestly, if that's the biggest mistake a first timer made on organizing something like this, then we done good.

Anyway, all thanks and praises to the following:

All of our corporate sponsors: Artlete, Keiko Raca, OK Kimonos!, Liberty Events, KristenPhoto, Foster BJJ, Ring Sports United, and the Carter Automotive Group

All the folks who shared the hell out of this project. Especially Mr. Tom Callos and The 100 Method, Team Ivan Salaverry, Georgette “The Red Menace” Oden, James Foster, Michelle Lena, Brian Martin, Eric Young, and all the rest. You know who you are.

My partner John Sylvester, who was instrumental in securing several huge donations, and functions as critical check on some of my crazier ideas. Professor Rodrigo Lopes, for stepping up with the use of Gracie Barra Seattle when it became apparent that we were going to need a bigger venue, as this idea was a huge hit. Brian Martin again, for lending a much needed hand with some of the back end organization and detail work. My wife Stephanie, who was one of the main driving forces behind this project. Thanks for waking me up to a few things. Love you

And, an extra special shout out to the homie Dan Dejos and Artlete. This LITERALLY would not have been possible without you. Thanks for the killer designs, the networking, the tough rolls, the 5am Jack in the Box run, and for generally being a great guy. I am proud to have had you on the team for this, and I owe you big time, man.

All together, we managed to donate $9230.44 to the Red Cross Typhoon Relief Effort. Good job, folks.

Photos courtesy of Michael Baltierra: full set on flickr

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Roll4Life November 2013 in Dunfermline, Scotland

Event Report #6, by Conor Robertson, from the Roll4Life Supporting the If U Care Share Foundation

A hectic week of planning, stressing and harassing every grappler I know, over every social networking site I know, all seemed pretty silly when it came to the day of our Roll4Life event. It went something like this.

I opened the gym, people arrived. They made generous donations, drank some bad tea and coffee with some very tasty cakes. Then of course, everyone rolled, chatted, ate even more cake. We rolled some more, took an awesome group photo and then went home.

All the rushing around and stressing out was for nothing apparently. By the end of the day, it was clear to me that if you offer up a clean mat to roll on (and some free cake between rounds!), everybody’s happy.

I’ll admit I couldn’t take my eyes off the clock for the first fifteen minutes of the morning when no one had walked through the doors. If I did, it was only to look at the two guys rolling on the large open mat, dreading what the group photo of three people would look like. Thankfully ten minutes later, the gym was full of bodies, everyone warming up and helping themselves to the drinks and snacks.

The rest of the day was filled with that reassuring noise of about 50 conversations going on around you all at once. Within the first hour I had eight different gym names listed on my sign-up sheet. It was a great turnout for us, especially considering I only gave a week's notice about the Scottish Roll4Life location, not to mention the massively more popular Rickson Gracie seminar on that day. I was told he’s kind of a big deal, so I didn't take it personally :P

In terms of the marathon side of the event, we were only covering a small portion of the global 24 hours (simultaneous events also took place in Taiwan, Russia, the United States and Denmark). It was honestly rather easy to make sure someone was always rolling for our five hour chunk of responsibility. Realistically it was more of a pain getting everyone off the mats when I wanted to go home at the end of the day. Those BJJ guys love rolling!!

Speaking of rolling, I spent most of the event watching guys mix it up on the mats and was very impressed with the technical level and discipline on display that day. Everyone avoided going to war on the mat but didn’t take it easy on each other at the same time. I almost felt lazy watching some excellent sparring going on all around me as I sat on the side-lines.

So of course, the temptation to get involved was just too much. I gave my responsibilities of running the gym to an eight year old girl (who as it turned out bullied everyone into coughing up extra money for charity: eight year olds can be tough businesswomen), meaning I got a nice couple of hours on the mat myself.

In the end, it was a good day for a good cause and I hope we earned some awesome karma points. All money raised from the event was donated online using the following link: mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/shirleysmith1.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

BETA Academy October 2013 Grapplethon in Washington, DC, USA

Event Report #5, by Laurie Porsch, from the BETA Academy Grapplethon Supporting NVRDC

Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: I am a part of BETA Academy. BETA Academy formerly was a part of Team Lloyd Irvin, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu team mired in scandal following the rape of a woman by her teammates on New Year’s Eve. My personal thoughts on the matter aren’t important, and I won’t get into all of the sordid details of what came out in the aftermath, but you can read more here if you’re interested. It started ugly and only got worse as time went on.

Eventually, a lot of the publicity surrounding the TLI issue died down and life continued, if forever changed. One of the worst things about a sexual assault (or any violent act, really) is that it leaves you feeling powerless. I know I felt powerless in the whole matter; I had strong feelings about things, and I wanted to do something, anything, but what could I do? There was really nothing to say that hadn’t already been voiced more eloquently and more notably by someone else, and I am a nobody in the BJJ community. I am not a world champion, not a black belt, not a prominent blogger. I am just a mediocre (at best) blue belt who really loves jiu-jitsu.

Sometime in the summer I stumbled across GrappleThon.org. I thought a marathon rolling session sounded really fun, and I started to toy with the idea of holding one at BETA Academy. The biggest draw for me was that a Grapplethon was a way to bring people together in a non-competitive atmosphere. Following the TLI debacle there was a lot of debate about the culture of BJJ and how it had become focused on winning tournaments and competitions at all costs. It is easy to see how this could happen, and I definitely started to slip into this mindset—winning is fun and I still intend on doing it as often as possible—but as an academy we wanted to refocus on BJJ as a lifestyle and as a martial art. Thus, BETA’s Grapplethon was born.

BETA’s owners, Nakapan and Melanie Phungephorn, gave me the go ahead to plan a Grapplethon for October. I first contacted Can Sönmez looking for some advice and guidance, which he provided in spades. Next up, I contacted Seymour Yang a.k.a. Meerkatsu, who generously offered to design a t-shirt for the event (this was key, as people will do anything for a sweet t-shirt.) Origin Gi also stepped up and offered to donate gear for raffles and giveaways. We decided early on to have a 12 hour Grapplethon rather than 24 hours because a) I didn’t want to stay up for 24 hours straight and b) U St Corridor in DC is not necessarily the best place to be sitting with a cashbox and an open door at 2 am on a Saturday.

Picking a charity to support was relatively easy. I had reached out to the Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC) in the aftermath of the NYE rape and asked how we could help. In July, I reconnected with one of the executive directors there and offered our support. We wanted to benefit a non-profit that worked within our local community, and NVRDC already had some exposure within the BJJ world, thanks to the SoCal Women’s Grapplethon and the UNITED patches designed by Liz Sussan, Maggie Ghamry, Lana Hunter and Brittany Senter.

When we first selected NVRDC as our beneficiary they were not on any of the peer-to-peer fundraising platforms (FirstGiving, StayClassy, etc). We knew we wanted to donate to NVRDC, so I went about finding a workaround. At NVRDC’s suggestion, I set up an Eventbrite account and created an event. Eventbrite is extremely user friendly and even has a “donation” option, where you don’t have to set ticket prices and registrants can just enter their preferred amount. Eventbrite is free to set up, but there are fees for credit card processing. The 'event page manager' function also allows for customized questions, such as “which t-shirt size do you wear?” which were very important when it came time to order shirts.

As I started to promote the Grapplethon, several BETA students asked me about peer-to-peer fundraising. After poking around on the Eventbrite site, I realized that Eventbrite had teamed up with FirstGiving (the US equivalent of JustGiving) and claimed that they could be “seamlessly integrated”. NVRDC set up a FirstGiving account in anticipation of this event (sometimes all you have to do is ask!) and I was able to link it to the Eventbrite page. I will say that Eventbrite’s claims of “seamless integration” may have been a bit exaggerated, but it worked out well enough. After registering on Eventbrite, people were prompted to set up their own fundraising page via FirstGiving. Most people declined this, and that’s fine; the idea was to have it as an option. As the administrator on both accounts, I had to manually record any funds donated through Eventbrite into FirstGiving as “offline donations”. This wasn’t a big deal as I became pretty proficient at doing it, but it would have been great if the donations were automatically tallied into our total on FirstGiving.

We didn’t set a minimum suggested donation on the Eventbrite page (we wanted the event to be free and accessible to all), but we did ask for a minimum donation of $40 to get a t-shirt. There are many ways to solicit donations, and this is but one. It worked quite well for us though, so we’ll likely repeat it again in the future. As for peer-to-peer fundraising: those of us who offered ourselves up as sacrificial lambs seemed to raise the most money (i.e., “for every $10 donated, I will roll one round”, etc.). Some of my particularly sadistic friends donated $200+ each to ensure that I would be grinding it out on the mat for as long as possible. Social media works wonders for collecting donations—I only posted the link to my FirstGiving page three times and was able to get multiple donations each time.

A week before the event I ordered the t-shirts, complete with Seymour’s awesome design. I used the Eventbrite registrations to guide my order as far as size and quantity; we ordered 135 shirts and decided that when they were gone, they were gone. A week out we didn’t have a ton of registrants, so at the time I didn’t know if the shirts would fly or if I would be stuck sitting alone at a table with 100 t-shirts and a sad look on my face. Happily, all 135 t-shirts were spoken for by the time we were two hours into the Grapplethon.

The day of Grapplethon, I showed up at the academy early to set up. One of our students, Jola Breegle, brought snacks and water donated by her company, Haute Catering. I staked out our kids’ room, setting up a registration table with the t-shirts, a laptop, and a stack of waivers for anyone joining us from outside the academy. I was surprised when people started showing up before 9am! By 11am the mats were already packed, and around noon I counted 52 grapplers on the mats, either rolling or hanging out at the edges. I had recruited some help from fellow staff members and students, so I was able to get off the desk and onto the mats.

In order to be as accessible as possible, we asked several instructors to donate their time by teaching a one-hour workshop. This way students who weren’t yet comfortable rolling live were still able to take part in the event. One of our Muay Thai instructors, Kru Daniel Chacon (who also happens to be an awesome BJJ purple belt) put on a teep (foot jab) workshop for our Muay Thai students and encouraged them to donate and pick up a shirt. We had five workshops throughout the day, including one taught by BETA co-founder and BJJ black belt Nakapan Phungephorn. Each of these workshops was well attended and helped to break up the monotony of rolling all day. Some participants (including me) chose to roll instead of attending the workshops. The two grapplers who rolled the most would get an Origin Pro Comp Gi, so there were precious rounds that could not be wasted!

At 2pm the Mid-Atlantic Grappling Girls took to one of our matted rooms (we have two), led by brown belt Liz Sussan from Richmond BJJ. Liz taught an awesome spider guard break series, and the women got to hang out and roll together. It was nice to break away for an hour or so and just get to meet new people and roll with women whom we had never met before. We rejoined the larger group around 4pm.

The crowds started to dwindle at about 5:00pm. Many grapplers had gotten there early, at 10 or 11, and were smoked by 4 or 5. There were a few in the running for the gi, though, and they just kept going! At the end of the night there were three grapplers standing: Michele with 62 rounds, Devante with 66 rounds, and Malcolm with 86 rounds (73 of them CONSECUTIVE. No water breaks, no rest. Just jiu-jitsu).

One of my concerns was how to track rounds. I didn’t want to be stuck to my computer, tallying grapplers. We chose to set up a white board and operate off an honor system, where the grapplers were responsible for marking their own rounds (my rationale was if you’re going to cheat at a charity event, karma will eventually catch up with you...or I will, and it won’t be pretty). I set the clock for 5 minutes on with 1 minute off, so there was plenty of time to make sure that the rounds were recorded. After about 4pm it became pretty obvious who was in the running for the gis, so a lot of people who weren’t on the leaderboard stopped recording and just focused on rolling.

By the time I started my last roll at 8:55pm, I was exhausted but still exhilarated. When all was said and done I had gone through three gis, two rash guards, and about 6 hair ties. Cleanup was a breeze, as students were ready to lend us a hand. After the dust settled and I was able to add up all the donations, it became clear that we had raised over $10,000. I emailed the folks at NVRDC; we were pretty excited.

Only then did I realize I had been so busy rolling, socializing, and collecting donations that I forgot to take any pictures or post anything on social media! Thankfully, BETA’s own Evan Barocas and Luza Bohorquez-Thomas were on hand to capture the day and took lots of awesome photos, some of which are up on the event page. Next year I will be sure to stop and get a group photo, or to stop and post things on Facebook (perhaps I’ll even learn how to use Twitter and Instagram by then). I don’t know exactly how many people attended, but my best guess is somewhere between 150 and 200 people. We had at least 50 visitors from other academies (which is awesome!). All in all I think it was a success.

A huge thanks goes out to our sponsors, Meerkatsu and Origin Gi, for helping make this happen. Thank you to Melanie and Nakapan for trusting me enough to open their school up to the world, and thank you to all the fundraisers and participants for joining BETA in taking a stand against violence. Now go start training for Grapplethon 2014!

Photos courtesy of Luza Bohorquez-Thomas and Evan Barocas