When it comes to tournament formats and circuits, Grappling Industries is constantly on the forefront, doing bigger and better things with each iteration of their round-robin style tournaments. One of very few tournament circuits to sit in three countries and two continents, Grappling Industries just recently confirmed their very first event to take place on European soil. On January 12th and 13th, the promotion makes landfall in London, taking their circuit to a whopping four countries and three continents.
I had an opportunity to chat with Grappling Industries founder David Aguzzi about what this means to him and his future as an event promoter. Here’s what he said:
“It doesn’t sink in or register in my mind how many countries or continents we are now involved in.
I assume in my mind chasing huge goals with my passion, these things were going to have to happen to reach that higher international level of branding and competitor draws.
The goal has always been to build the platform that Grappling Industries is and evolve, shape, and pivot it to be more and more enjoyed by the majority of competitors doing BJJ in the world.
I want everyone to try Grappling Industries, and for the minority that runs into unenjoyable experiences to reach out to us so we can evolve and problem solve such issues that arise in the martial arts tournament industry. Working with competitors wants we can act as middlemen between gyms and competitors everywhere we hope.
I’ve been really lucky to have a great team. A team that both wants to work and will grind. We believe in ourselves and believe in our evolution as well our expansion steps. We work a lot on learning from our mistakes and growing pains to ensure our service only gets better and better for the competitors. A promoter in BJJ must have a good and true understanding of how the competitors feel, be it in their positive or negative experiences. I also absolutely enjoy my job and I still respect the anxiety it brings.
I have wanted to produce a London tournament for years now. I wanted to treat the UK like Australia and other similar expanding logistic projects we had solved which means owning and controlling our production and tournament dates. Benjamin Hodgkinson, UK and Australia’s director for Grappling Industries will be going to England for the month of September to visit with all the gyms and community members there to future open up our relations there. This isn’t a short term play for us at all, nor a one and done. Real investment is going into this expansion to the UK and Europe, and we want the competitors there to know we are to be trusted and will work our asses off over and over again to create something very special for all of the practitioners and coaches there.”
For Aguzzi, event promotion is not just a job, it’s a calling.
“I remember after the last Maryland tournament which was huge, sitting around with one of my coordinators Anthony Hewitt who worked the event with me. We must’ve sat in our hotel room exhausted talking for at least 3 hours straight about the competitors, referees, coaches, schedule, and just all of their and our experience we had that day. It was all we spoke about. There’s a stereotype about promoters that after events we run home or to our hotels and count our earnings but that isn’t true about any of us at Grappling Industries. We limp back to where we will sleep that night after the event and really digest all that just occurred. It’s such a hard job to produce a tournament for hundreds and hundreds of people, but that is no excuse, our team only gets disappointed in themselves when we don’t deliver the service to the competitors that we worked hard and imagined truly giving them. There are events too in which competitors have loved and we went back home anxious knowing we had better ideas of how to do things. Always getting better, this is our actual freaking passion, and not just income to us.”
For more information about Grappling Industries’ upcoming events, check out their website, where you can find upcoming events and other information about the circuit.