My first port of call was to pick up BJJ Style writer Tom Bell before heading over to pick up Robert aka Thor . Once the team was assembled we set of down to the Sky Dome in Coventry arriving at the venue around 9am.
When entering the venue I could tell this was going to be a very special weekend and I wasn’t wrong. The first day I refereed Mat 3 with my professor and British Open Champion Matthew Callaghan aka Stalone . We started with the white belt categories and my personal highlight was watching UK Elite Squad member 14 years old George Tolley taking Gold in the adult division .
In the afternoon was the purple belt Divisions and that finished with me reffing an epic battle between two massive men in an exciting absolute final . Day one was done , it was 14 hours after I left sunny Preston , my feet throbbing my brain frazzled there was only one cure a ‘cheeky’ Nandos with the team . My fine dining experience was made even better with Jack Magee black belt absolute silver medallist joining us . The Chicken and laughs flowed and we finished the evening watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Premier Inn’s Ultimate Wi-Fi in room 606 .
2am – Bed .
I wake about 7.30 am and check Facebook and see all the BJJ statuses about traveling down to the British Open and the excitement starts again .
After attempting to eat the hotel breakfast ( best avoiding ) it was time to make the short walk over to the venue . Day Two started with the blue belt divisions and tbh the toughest fight I had to referee all weekend , two amazingly technical guys with very similar games , I’m not going to lie it was one of the most mentally draining things I’ve done . The blue belt fights didn’t fail to provide the excitement I expected with lots of familiar faces on my mat during the morning.
The afternoon brought in the big guns , all the top brown and black belts entering the fighting area . Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of the Elite divisions as the Blue Belt Absolute ran at the same time but I’m not disappointed because I got to witness an amazing Final , the whole situation was special. There was lots of familiar faces over the weekend competing on my Mat and it was an Absolute pleasure to witness every single warrior that did BUT the moment that summed up my entire weekend was the second I raised Robert’s hand in the Semi final and realised he would be fighting Reece Doran in the final . That won’t meen a lot to most of you but Robert is a gym mate and Reece is someone I’ve seen grow and grow over the last 24 months , two great guys and friends . As a ref I have no problems staying neutral so the thought of refereeing the final between these two brought up different emotions , ones of pride and joy for both men . The final didn’t disappoint with Reece controlling the heavier Robert in the early stages of the fight before Robert stormed back in the last minute with Reece taking the Gold . Both athletes performed great .
Day Two finished with me watching the Absolute Black Belt Final between two great guys and friends Juniao and Jack with Juniao taking the Gold in an exciting final .
11pm I arrive back home a tired but happy man , feeling privileged to be part of such an amazing weekend with my friends .
I love BJJ