Saturday I drove down to Kraków to watch the World Cup of Grappling. The RGC had Bernardo Serrini from Italy as our representative in this competition. He did a great job and won clear matches against a Canadian, an Ukrainian and a Polish grappler, losing the finals to the French fighter, who was really good and dominated all his previous matches.
Bernardo took the silver medal in the No GI division under 80 kgs and also qualified to a martial arts comp in Beijing, China. Well done to Bernardo and we are confident he took the biggest prize in this comp, not only the medal itself, but the experience acquired that will help him and our team. The best prize of competing is learning about yourself, and of course winning and losing add to your progress. Earning medals is a plus and we are proud of our grappler from Livorno.
The organisation of the event has a lot to learn and change if they aim to bring more people to their competitions. Rules were designed by wrestlers or people with very little knowledge of ground. The points are poorly given by refs who many times did not award due points for take downs and sweeps, and were clueless to some neck cranks, banned but being widely used and not punished. I saw one American leaving the mats with his knee badly damaged cause his opponent, a Swedish guy, put a straight achilles lock but passed his leg across, forcing and twisting the knee ligaments (something unlawful in BJJ due to the risk it carries. There was no intent but he should have been disqualifed as this is equivalent to a heel hook, which is not allowed by FILA).
The refs tried to enforce their “power” showing yellow and red cards not only to coaches and athletes but also to the public! One Italian grappler was disqualified for drinking water while waiting more than a minute for the refs to decide on how to start the overtime. How can people damage others and keep fighting, and someone is disqualified for drinking water while clueless refs try to figure out how to apply the rules?
Overtime is a great idea, but in this comp they flip a coin and one grapplers assume a “superior” position. He must then score a point in one minute, while his opponent only needs to avoid a point to secure the win. Such rule is stupid and damages the sport, I cannot see this set of rules attracting people to make this format popular enough to have a shot in future Olympic Games.
Worse were the facts that the comp starting at 12:00, they made the “opening” ceremony at 19:00, there were only 2 areas, the refs were calling the fighters themselves, the repechage was done without crossing the brackets, and the place… OMG!
A World Cup, instead of happening in Kraków, one of the most beautiful cities of Central and Eastern Europe, was set to a school in the middle of wheat fields, in the surrounds of a small village. Not even the local peasants would come to see this and the media effort was really poor.
Competitors that saw last year in Fort Lauderdale were shocked to say the least. FILA must wake up and put credible events and rules or else it will fail utterly.