FIVE – The Future of North American Grappling
In the current Brazilian JiuJitsu and submission grappling scene, there seems to constantly be a desire among fans, practitioners and competitors alike to answer the often asked question, ‘Who is the best?’ Of course most people look to the IBJJF, the most recognized sanctioning body in the world for JiuJitsu or the ADCC, arguably the most prestigious tournament held once every two years, for answers.
The IBJJF crowns World Champions every year at their Mundials in California, where the tournament is open to Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioners all over the world who pay the fee and register under an IBJJF approved team or association.
As the sport grows, each year divisions grow, and it is not uncommon to find divisions among the coloured belts with close to, if not over, 100 competitors in a single bracket!
ADCC separates itself by running an exclusive no gi event where competitors must win a continental trial, have won the year before, or be invited by the organizing committee based on merit and recognition. However, with this comes controversy as fans and pundits alike are often puzzled with the selection (and exclusion) of certain competitors. Although both organizations garner prestige and recognition among the masses, they have their weaknesses and cons to match their perks and mainstream appeal.
Enter FIVE Grappling, a North American based organization started to bring Brazilian JiuJitsu and submission grappling to new heights. FIVE aims to help develop future BJJ superstars, while also creating a circuit and culture to breed true North American champions.
Prior to hosting their first event, FIVE held a conference, bringing together a wide variety of top competitors, instructors and brand owners within the Brazilian JiuJitsu and submission grappling community to get feedback on the competition scene and its strengths and weaknesses. The Ontario 1 tournament, FIVE’s inaugural event was held in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, in the summer of 2013, and was a booming success, with FIVE displaying a new approach to tournaments with their unique layout, carefully developed rules set, top quality seminar and super fights, and their clear investment in the competitor and fan experience.
Now in their first year hosting a full tournament circuit, FIVE is well into their schedule to tour major North American cities and put their unique FIVE experience on display. Constantly improving and evolving along the way, the organizers have hosted successful events in California and Nevada in 2014 and will visit Texas, Oregon, Illinois, Ontario, Arizona, New York, Florida and Georgia, before hosting their first North American championships in Miami, Florida.
Entry to this tournament will only be open to competitors who medaled in a FIVE event on the 2014 circuit. Hosting events with high production value, investing in the future stars of our sport, and establishing a fresh new format to develop undisputed North American Champions, FIVE is looking to take the Brazilian JiuJitsu and submission grappling world by storm and stay true to their motto – Compete. Evolve.
GP: Why have you started the FIVE grappling? What is the End Goal?
DH: We started FIVE GRAPPLING because we felt there was a real opportunity to do something special in the BJJ marketplace. We can all see the growth of this amazing sport and we felt that we could bring a national competition league that could help to build the sport and provide a better competition experience for spectators and competitors. We respect all of the groups providing tournaments for competitors nut we want to place ourselves as close to the top as we can in terms of prestige and importance for competitors. We know this will take time but we are anxious to prove ourselves.
GP: How do you see the growth of the sport being a professional in it?
DH: There are many people providing platforms for some of the top competitors and that is great news. The faster we can create these inspirational figures that are able to be full time competitors the better it is for all of us involved in BJJ. We need these individuals to help inspire young people entering the martial art and more specifically people looking to pursue the sport side of Jiu-Jitsu. We have some pretty cool ideas that we plan to present in the very near future.
GP: What would you or do you say to someone that has never competed and would like to give it a try but is not feeling confident enough, too new to the game or feels uncomfortable in public stage?
DH: Our slogan is COMPETE. EVOLVE and we think it is true. Competition is not for everyone but we think that everyone should at least try it once. We also feel that we provide a great platform for that person looking to compete for the first time or the 100th time. Almost every professor at the thousands of gyms we visit feel that the sensation you get from competing is something that all BJJ practitioners should experience. Overcoming that fear of competition is a huge accomplishment for the student and we truly believe it helps you to build confidence for all areas of life where you are challenged. Our job is to make it as enjoyable and as fun as we can for the Beginner to the Expert Pro.
GP: Why in your opinion should JiuJitsu be important to ones life?
DH: Jiu Jitsu makes you uncomfortable and forces you to think clearly and plan for ways to get out of those uncomfortable situations. That way of thinking is great when applied to all areas of life. In addition there are the obvious health benefits and the social group that you develop with studying this martial art. Also, we are able to truly test ourselves and see how we are learning more techniques and tools to work with through the structure of Jiu Jitsu. Few activities and specifically martial arts allow you the chance to test yourself on a regular basis and still clean yourself up and go about your other activities the way Jiu Jitsu does. Whether it is hard sparring or competing in a tournament, you know that we are almost always able to walk off the mats with minimal problems and with a smile on our faces.
GP: How has JiuJitsu impacted your life? in what ways?
DH: For all of us in FIVE it has had a wide range of effects. For some of us it has defined us and given us joy for decades. Some of us have even met our wives on the mats. We all have our kids learning Jiu Jitsu and it is a passion as well as a job. We all love the sport and knowing that our actions might help to get more people involved and enjoying Jiu Jitsu is one of our big motivating factors for working so hard.
GP: Being a big part of the JiuJitsu competition scene development, can the sport competition format still evolve and how so?
JiuJitsu is only starting to touch the sport scene and the social fabric of North America. Let’s not forget that so few people knew about JiuJitsu before the Gracie name became known to us through the UFC. We truly believe that we will see explosive growth in participation in JiuJitsu and we know that doing our job correctly we can help with that growth and development. Whether you are a purist or a crazy fan for the sport side of JiuJitsu we all see the greatness of it and as more people become exposed to what we love it will continue to grow rapidly. We will see the sport side continue to grow and many of us will continue to experiment with the “perfect” competition experience. Obviously the answer is different depending on your interests or goals and objectives you wish to achieve through competing. We at FIVE know that we will provide an outstanding level of customer service and top quality production to make our events memorable and fun for everyone who comes. We also know that we are going to help figure out who is the best of the best within our rules and qualifying process. We hope that the community gets behind us and supports our efforts.
Josh Sequeira is an English major in university, aspiring high school teacher, and writer and content producer for Grapplers Planet. He is an avid competitor and student of the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu.