A Grapple a day...

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For the martial arts enthusiasts out there, chances are you won't be settling down ringside with your crew and a brew to take in any sort of mixed martial arts/Ultimate Fighting Championship-style events in this province in the near future. It's not sanctioned by any sports governing body, and, more importantly, it's illegal. But if you've got a hankering to see men - and maybe some women, too - get sweaty and roll around on a mat trying to make their opponent submit without utilizing blows to the noggin, I've got just the event for you. This Saturday at Bishop Abraham in St. John's, Port Blandford's Tom Dunne (Total Martial Arts) is putting off the first ever - by name only - Newfoundland Grappling Championships featuring competitors from brazilian jiu-jitsu as well as judo and wrestling backgrounds. There are two divisions; Gi (pronounced g-hee), which requires fighters to abide by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) rules and wear a traditional judo/karate jacket, and a no Gi division. We're going to do it the exact same way with the same point system. But wrestlers, for example, wouldn't wear a Gi but they'd like to get in and grapple. And the Gi is very technical, too. As the name implies, this is non-striking event where the object is basically to make the person tap out or win by points. Fighters get two points for a takedown, knee on stomach and sweeps, three for a guard pass and four points for a mount or rear mount. Most matches will end in having to be decided by points because where the fighters are going to be matched up by weight and skill, most guys know how to counter arm bars, or triangle chokes, explains Dunne who along with Corey Stringer are organizing the event. The guys were motivated to get the event off the ground because there are virtually no formal competitions for grapplers offered in the province. In fact, just to get a decent level of competition, the guys have been down to the States twice this year, most recently for the North American Grappling Association Championships in November - along with Kody Noljstad Matthew Critch. Stringer finished third in both masters intermediate no gi and masters blue belt Gi light heavy weight divisions. Noljstad finished third in both men's novice featherweight divisions gi no gi and Critch finished third in teens novice featherweight no gi. Dunne finished fourth in both men's white blue belt cruiserweight gi divisions. The event gets underway Saturday at noon with check in and weigh in for competitors, with the grappling action beginning at 1. It's open to people 15 years of age and it doesn't matter whether you've been applying power-chokes for six months or six years, fighters will only meet others of similar age, weight, and experience on the mat. Moreover, Dunne insists it's going to be strictly refereed to avoid illegal moves and possible injury. It's not a fight club kind of thing, we're trying to do as professional a job as we can. It's not like people are going to be coming into the ring and their goal is to rip heads off. If that brand of martial arts is your pleasure, order the pay per view and kegs now. But if you want to see homegrown talent slap sleeper-holds and cross face chicken wings on one another in an Elementary school gym on a cold November afternoon, tickets are just 10 bucks at the door.

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