The culture of close combat competition has been in a mode of resurgence over the last several years through the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) and more specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). While the founders of Jiu Jitsu can be traced down the lineage of the Gracie family, it wasn’t until the UFC boomed in the mid-2000’s that grappling became a discipline of choice for people looking to participate in martial arts and through that propelling in popularity such tournaments as Grappler’s Quest and the Abu Dhabi Combat Club’s (ADCC) events.
Albuquerque’s David Freidlander helped New Mexico and surrounding areas in finding a place where our regions competitors could showcase all the hard work that comes with training in Jiu Jitsu. The grappling tournaments titled “Grapplefest” has been a staple for the Southwest in competition grappling and was a stomping grounds so to speak for UFC veterans Henry Martinez and Diego Brandao and Strikeforce veteran Quinn Mulhern to show their Jiu Jitsu merit.
The tournament allows competitors to not only gain experience in competition but also gives out medals to participants who earn first through fourth place and is structured in a double elimination format that also allows competitors to accumulate points both individually and as a team. Each year the top team is recognized and rewarded with a trophy.
The format of the tournament was a unique idea and innovation when the now popular tournament came about. SWFight.com was able to catch up with David Freidlander for a bit of an informal conversation about the lesser known details of Grapplefest. Most tournaments at the time were single elimination and competitor’s from this region would travel long distances to California and Las Vegas, Nevada to be put in a situation where one bad match would lead to the whole trip being over with sometimes in less than a few minutes.
Freidlander described the purpose of the tournament to be “fun and low pressured,” which really wasn’t a possible scenario when traveling hours to compete in a huge tournament where one loss would mean elimination. “Cost prohibiting, increasing involvement and foster appreciation” also played into the common theme of the tournaments goals. Securing encouragement to the parents, the children and the adult competitors alike was not an easy task to handle but one Freidlander deemed necessary.
Too often in these types of settings would we see dismay and discouragement in losing not only matches, but losing out on an expense many couldn’t afford and Grapplefest is not only affordable, it is built to encourage repeat competitors instead of losing interest of people after disappointing experiences. All of these ideas and themes play into the implementing of the double elimination structure, awarding of first through fourth medals and the friendliness that has been a driving force in the tournament success. Freidlander cites his time being a father as his passion to pursue these ambitions, hoping that through his efforts he not only keeps people involved but continues to bring in new interest and through it build a healthy base of people who can share the same fun, rewarding experiences as people who have been part of Grapplefest the past five years.
The next scheduled tournament will be the end of 2012’s events, on October 20th the 2012 Southwest Grappling Championship will be hosted inside the Cleveland High School and will mark the 5th year and 12th event run by David Freidlander. In 2013, the tournament will hit the road as an attempt to show support to the Southerners that have made the journey to Albuquerque the last several years by planning an upcoming event in Las Cruces, NM.
Stay tuned to SWFight.com for more coverage on the tournament!