The jiu-jitsu community has shown itself capable of doing amazing things for its members. A recent incident has shown us all what we can accomplish together.
Tournament circuits rely on their equipment to be able to function. Mats are crucial to the week by week operation of these circuits, without mats, many circuits wouldn’t be able to put on the events that we all seek out for opportunities to test ourselves.
One of the most active circuits on the scene, Grappling Industries, has spent the past few years growing and cementing themselves as a premier tournament circuit for competitors throughout the USA, Canada and Australia, having on occasion even put on events in all 3 countries at once.
Back in October they suffered the theft of their mats.
This sort of loss can potentially ruin a promotion’s reputation. It can force them to cancel events, and ultimately can ruin them in the long run. But here’s where things got interesting: Grappling Industries’ direct competition, some representatives from Fuji BJJ and Submission Challenge, took it upon themselves to ensure that the show would go on.
I had an opportunity to chat with Tim Morthland, a representative from Fuji BJJ, Derek Stewart from Submission Challenge and Marcos Flores from Grappling Industries to explore the motivations and implications of this amazing collaborative act of kindness.
Derek’s company, Submission Challenge is based on Omaha Nebraska. They stepped up to the plate for Grappling Industries in a big way.
“I saw their post online about the theft so I offered help because i could. I didn’t know if anyone in the area that could help so I felt responsible. I Drove 6 hours brought extra staff and equipment.
I decided to help because it was the right thing to do. Especially in the Midwest it’s important to help when u can. Community is everything. We need the community’s support for everything jiujitsu and it’s a small world so helping that community grow and being part of that growth is what we do.”
Tim Morthland is Fuji BJJ’s midwestern representative. Like Derek, Tim went the extra mile to ensure that his direct competition in Grappling Industries could thrive and stay on the map.
“Marcos and I communicate very well. As soon as he notified me that is trailer was stolen, we began working with JW Wright and all the Fuji franchise owners to help them out. There was no question on whether we could help them out, just a matter of what we needed to do. It is all about the growth of jiu jitsu and the community.
It cost me driving about 1000 miles, a couple days of vacation, and some good communication. On top of JW and the other franchise owners. My wife and father also took part in helping coordinate all the help. It would have been nearly impossible without them. Very few communities are like the Jiu Jitsu community. Very easily compared to the military connection. It is everyone’s responsibility within the community to see that it grows and figure out how we can help each other. Less than 1% of the populations trains.”
As for Marcos Flores, the USA tournament director for Grappling Industries, he had this to say…
“We made posts online about our trailer being stolen. I reached out to JW Wright and asked if he could assist and he reached out to his franchises. 3 agreed to help us no problem. Derek reached out to us and offered. I think it was based off the relationship we built already. We canceled our St Louis event because Derek had his that day and we didn’t know. I spoke to JW when I first wanted to do St Louis since it’s his home city. If we didn’t have the help then we would have had to cancel those events.
I think they both saw that as respect and I have kept that respect and relationship open since then. We are always stronger together. This Bjj community is growing so fast and so big that people forget why we do this. We love this we love what we do. If we can keep that in our minds all the time then we can grow this sport and grow our community.”
These individuals have shown us how a community should treat its own. Derek and Tim put community above themselves and as a result were able to help Marcos keep his tournaments going. This in turn builds the competitive scenes in the markets where the competitions were taking place, and as a result will improve those scenes producing fertile ground for their own tournaments. Truly remarkable and inspirational.
The truth is that there isn’t enough of this around. Too many academies have had to close due to lack of support, too many people have quit the gentle art, and there isn’t enough togetherness. This story gives us a glimpse of what could be… What other wonders could we accomplish as a community if we came together?
Emil Fischer is a Jiu-jitsu Black Belt and BJJ competitor training under Pablo Angel Castro III at Strong Style MMA in Cleveland Ohio. An avid writer and competitor, Emil has amassed an extensive competition record. Most notably, Emil is a 2 time gold medalist at the IBJJF No Gi Pans, and has a submission victory record of 5-1 at Fight To Win Pro which includes purple belt no-gi light heavyweight championship
Emil’s sponsors are Impact Mouthguards, Cleveland Cryo, The Terphouse, Meerkatsu, Eddys on Coventry and Nottarookie. He is a Ludwig Van and Vanguard Kimono brand ambassador.