IBJJF Registration

This one is long.  You've been warned.


Over the past few weeks one of the things I was worrying about was managing my weight so that I only had to cut a few pounds in order to compete as a middleweight (181lbs with the gi on).  My mass paranoia over this had me constantly double checking the IBJJFs website to make sure I had the number correct.  Thankfully I did, because I discovered that the IBJJF has seriously beefed up their system.


Let me back up a bit and speak about belts and lineage in martial arts.  Since the invention of the "belt system" by 'who-the-hell-knows' however long ago, the concept of the "legitimacy" of ones rank has been a topic for hot debate.  In almost any sport which gives out rank based on colored belts, people are acutely aware of when and how they received their rank, and the lineage behind their belt (who was my instructor, who was my instructors instructor, and so on).  This paranoia has, of course, filtered into BJJ.  Schools, instructors, ranks, are all hotly debated.  People at tournaments are constantly accused of sandbagging (competing below their rank) while on the flip side, people are constantly being challenged for the legitimacy of their rank ("Who gave you that black belt?").


The difference this time, however, is that the sport (BJJ that is) has a lineage that traces itself very easily first back to the Gracie family, and then back through the roots of Judo.  Everything flows from there and since their have been only a few generations of athletes in the sports approximately 100 year history, it ain't hard.  This combined with the current level of globalization in the world means that it should be really, really easy to track rank.  The IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) has made some great strides to catalog everyone, and they recently started being very strict about competing in tournaments.  Gi lengths have to be on point, weights have to be perfect, and your identity, rank, and instructor have to be double and triple checked at the gate before you'll be allowed on the mats.  Apparently at Mundials this year, they finally instituted a policy that only registered atheletes and coaches were allowed down in the pit.  They obviously didn't tell people about this rule, and were being extremely lenient, offering to sign people up on the spot so that they could get in the system.


Apparently, starting with the Rio Open, they are being very serious about registration and identification.  This is where we come back to why I'm glad I was paranoid and kept checking the website.  The Rio Open is on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of July.  In order to compete, you must sign up by the 8th of July.  In order to sign up, you have to be registered with the IBJJF by the 24th of JUNE.  This, amazingly, is the exact date I'm scheduled to fly out.


So, yay, another thing to be paranoid about.  Turns out this one was much worse than getting my visa (which turned out to be dirt easy honestly, everyone was real nice).  In order to register as an athlete with the IBJJF, you have to be marked as competing for a certain academy who themselves, has a registered black belt instructor.  My school (USA Jiu-Jitsu) and its owner (John "Papa John" Gorman), are not registered, and I certainly wasn't going to get both my school, my instructor, and myself registered in time (their are other factors as well, which I won't go into, that made that path impossible).  


I emailed over several days with whoever answers emails with the IBJJF.  Apparently, I couldn't register as a student of Gordo's academy.  Even though thats where I'd be training, Gordo's academy is registered in Brazil (obviously) and I'm a competitor from the US.  I needed to be registered with a US academy.  So, thus began the arduous process of "who the hell will sign this damned paper for me".  I talked to everyone I could think of.  Dennis (heretofore referred to as "the Connection Rio guy"), suggested I even contact Braga Neto, as his academy is registered in the US, to see if he could help me.  Eventually, the golden answer came to me while I was explaining the mess of a situation to Papa John, "How about you ask Johnny?"


For those not in the know, Johnny Ramirez is the co-owner of New Breed Jiu Jitsu in California (along with John Ouano, who BJJ people will know of from Ouano Gi's) and is a black belt under Rodrigo Medeiros.  I've had the pleasure of training with Johnny several times over my career when he would visit the East coast.  He actually earns the credit of being the person to teach me my first technique.  My first ever BJJ class was straight on the heels of the opening of the gym.  I missed Rigan Machado, but apparently Johnny stuck around another day and taught class.  We went over how to roll into a bow-and-arrow choke when your opponent has turtled up.  Yes I was very...very confused at the time, but it was a damned cool technique (and so help me God I will bow-and-arrow choke the shit out of people now).  


Papa John gave me Johnnys contact information.  I sent him an email and didn't hear back for a few days.  Last Friday I was already on the phone with someone so I figured, why not, I'll give him a call.  I didn't think he'd actually pick up but low and behold he did.  I explained my situation as thoroughly as I could.  At this point, I was so caught up in being able to compete that I didn't care what I needed to do.  Johnny told me to try and find out some more information and then get back to him.


This past Tuesday I was busy at work so I shot him off a text.  The IBJJF had agreed to lapse a bit on the deadline if I had to but I still needed to be registered with a US academy in order to compete.  Getting Johnny to sign the document was the only way.  I needed to get him to print the registration form, sign and date it, scan it, and email it back to me.  Seriously that's a hassle for anyone, especially a BJJ black belt who runs a network of schools and actively competes.  Turns out "doing business" coast to coast is easy for some people.


Seriously?!  Who the hell helps someone that damned quickly?  Johnny fucking Ramirez that's who.


If you are ever near any New Breed school go to it.  In honor of Johnnys Robin Hood like helpfulness, here's a video...

Because who puts Draculino out during a competition?  Johnny fucking Ramirez that's who.