Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 10/01/2015
GrappleThon fundraising is going well and the team is growing: our current total is £215, with 10 people on the team so far. If you'd like to help us reach our £4,000 target, pop over here, or for full details, go here. It's also been cool to see the women's class getting attention in the press, with three sources covering it over the last week. That prompted me to set up a Press page for Artemis BJJ, so I've got it all in one place: check that out here.
I started off with some side control drilling with Tracey and Steve, where again the importance of pulling the elbow back for base when turning to knees came up. Both Tracey and Steve have shown real improvement since they began training with me, which is impressive as they've both only done about 10 lessons at this point. After Tracey left, I asked Steve what he wanted to work on, which turned out to be the same kind of side guard stuff I'd been playing with before my groin injury flared up.
Steve wanted to focus on the omoplata, plus we also threw in the related pressing armbar. As with Chris a while ago, I found that when going into progressive resistance, it was key to stop me driving my head back in and squaring up. It also made me wonder how best to stop them posting on their other arm, as that's what I kept doing to help me drive back across. I guess driving your knee into the upper back would do it, loading up weight there so they are squished head-first into the floor.
For now, I was happy with the stream. They've come a long way since the first streamed BJJ event six years ago. Although it slowed down once or twice, I didn't miss any of the action and those blips were brief. The schedule was tightly run, with no long pauses or staring at empty mats. It even finished early (I was home by 22:00), which was a nice surprise. I wasn't sure if I'd be sat around for several hours longer than the schedule promised, as that's certainly happened at other competitions I've watched. There was a thirty minute interval, but that's reasonable for a live event: after all, I for one need to go to the toilet at some point if I've been sat down for several hours!
At only £15, it was a great price for eight fights. I really liked not having to be up at 4am, as is always the case for the big US-based events (though ironically I am writing this at 4am due to my long-term insomnia ;D). The first two fights were a bit slow, but that was followed by an awesome women's fight between multiple world champion Michelle Nicolini and new black belt Angela Galvao. Considering the experience gap, Galvao did well, but Nicolini was clearly the dominant fighter. I hope that Polaris doesn't make the same mistake as Metamoris and only ever show one female fight before reverting to single sex match-making. I'm fairly confident they won't, as the people behind this are (I think, unless they were just sponsoring?) long-time supporters of women's BJJ, like the Tatami Fightwear team and Matt Benyon from Scramble.
It was a shame Polaris didn't have replays and a few more angles, as quite a few of the submissions happened on the other side of the camera. A more trivial criticism would be the very repetitive ads: the same two adverts were run over and over again. I don't mind a bit of advertising given the low price, but a bit of variety would be a plus. In an ideal world, there would also be at least one true sub only match during the webcast, with no time limits. I can accept that would be tricky to do live in a a big venue where time is money, but they could perhaps record it the day before at a local BJJ gym
There were three fantastic nogi fights on the night as well, featuring Dean Lister versus Keenan Cornelius, my first BJJ instructor Oli Geddes versus AJ Agazarm (Oli did really well considering the short notice and size difference), as well as the always exciting Garry Tonon versus the just as energetic Marcin Held. That was probably the fight of the night (I hope both athletes are invited back for the next event and matched against other people), along with Nicolini versus Galvao. I was disappointed I didn't get to see Telles' turtle guard, but then that wasn't his fault, because his opponent Mike Fowler decided not to engage it at all. It's not often you see a fighter of Fowler's calibre actively avoid somebody else's turtle.
So, all in all a brilliant first try from Polaris. They are doing pretty much everything right so far: women's fight, not inviting current members of Team Lloyd Irvin (like Copa Podio, who I won't be watching until they stop inviting TLI), no long delays and top notch match-making. Roll on Polaris 2! I'm hoping for Gabi Garcia versus Ronda Rousey, that would be an amazing match up. :D