Hey all... more about the Pan. Less big picture/preaching, more pictures and video.
But before I get to that, wanted to point out one of John Will's recent posts that neatly described why, I think, I have to see things in class on five separate occasions before they sink in. He refers to these as "sticky lessons." As usual, spot-on brilliance. At least I'm not alone :)
But anyway... You might want to know what to expect at a big tournament like this, and the photojournalist in me likes making a record of the experience. Nothing can prepare you for the noise and urgency. It's like a big NAGA that's four days long, but far more organized, and the emotional intensity in the air really ups the ante. In the early morning, it's very still, almost peaceful.
Mitch and I got there so early on the first day (we were paranoid about being late) that we had time to go out for breakfast. Well, since I was also paranoid about making weight, HE ate breakfast. I ate... vegetables.
By 9am it's hopping and was like a hive until at least 8pm. The barricades were a godsend, really, because they gave competitors and staff a little breathing room. The crowds continually push the barricades closer and closer, and the staff keeps pushing them back, and the screaming... there's nothing like it.
Strangely, though, the energy has an anonymous quality to it. It's as though everyone there is screaming and looking at so many things going on at once, no one was paying any attention to my match.
Granted, I heard my opponent Nina's corner's voice loud and clear, so I knew at least once other person (besides my husband and the referee) was watching... but it felt like there was an excellent possibility that no one else was paying us any mind. Anyway.
Still photos really don't capture all of the vibe so I took a couple quick little videos of the general scene. Just panning around the room a bit so you get a feel for the situation-- this was late in the day on Saturday, things are winding down, probably around 8pm. The deep, deep voice you hear over the PA system is the (famous) Tony Torres.
This was earlier on another day I think. The female voice with the accent is what you will be listening for as she is usually calling the divisions and specific names. Notice how difficult it is to distinguish her voice!
And here's a little view of what's behind the scorer table, which is where your corner and friends will be standing. It's a long way to the center of your mat, which is why it can be hard to hear them, and why they will be utterly without a voice within an hour or so.
I mentioned in my review for the Fightworks Podcast that the tournament was well-run and efficient. Coming from the NAGA perspective this couldn't be more of a contrast. The IBJJF staff tells you days ahead of time what time your division will be called and holy cow, they're accurate. Over 2800 competitors this year (the largest Pan yet!) and you figure most competitors bring at least one other person with them, whether family, friends, coaching, etc.. so you know it's a sizeable crowd. The largest division, one of the lighter-weight bluebelt men's, had 100 competitors in it and took 8 matches to get to gold. Here's the wall with the brackets posted on it. These are NOT the brackets for the whole weekend; nope, just for THURSDAY.
UC Irvine's Bren Events Center was a nice venue with plenty of space, clean bathrooms, and good seating for viewers. I was bummed they jacked you on the parking (normally $8, and on the first day that's all they charged. Second day they clued in and raised the rates to $10/day for the rest of the weekend.) Only complaint was it was absofreakinlutely too cold inside. Definitely bring a hoodie. And credit card, for the cool tshirts upstairs, and cash, for the Silvio's BBQ and the acai bowls outside.
So you wanna know what a random match looked like? Here's some purplebelt dudes filmed at random. Dunno their names.
And here's some blackbelt dudes. Again, random selection. The guy in the black gi is Antonio Passos.
Here's another sweet match of his, vs. Joao Faria. Check out Faria's flying triangle at the start.
As a teaser... I plan on a part 3 with more fun matches: Luanna Alzuguir v. Cristiane Souza (light brown/black womens' finals)... Ryan Hall v. Henrique (just a division match but a long 50/50 guardy-sweepy battle)... so stay tuned!