2006 Budweiser Jiu Jitsu Nationals Report September 30 – October 1st Longtime readers of OTM will know that I’ve always had a certain fondness for the Southeastern portion of the United States. I always feel a certain sense of hospitality when I arrive here, and that feeling begins from the moment I step off the airplane, to driving around town, and it certainly permeates at every tournament I’ve been to in the area. Promoter Joe Hurst is a lot like the tournaments he puts on, a bit rough around the edges, but endlessly inviting and all in all the most fun you’ll can possibly have in a weekend. Through partners Carolina Quest (which typically promotes at NFL games and other major sporting events), the 2006 Budweiser Nationals managed to attract some very large sponsors to the sport, including Budwesier, Red Bull and Rockstar energy drinks and the give away of a plasma TV certainly upped the excitement factor. However it was the more homey tournament touches and the action on the mat itself which made the event a success. Unlike previous Budweiser related tournaments, this one was actually held inside of Hurst’s school, which was an enormous facility of over five thousand square feet of wide open space, with plenty of space for four mats, spectators and a large warm up area. Pretty much everyone seemed to know everyone else, and although this was definitely a competition and the fighters fought well, there was a definite lack of any tension in the air. It was a feeling that sort of permeated from the hosts throughout the rest of those gathered; when not on the mats competing, plenty of people could be seen training and exchanging techniques at the large warm up area, or chatting, or watching the large number of kids present play and roll around. The competition itself was divided over two days. The first day was gi and attracted mainly white and blue belt competitors, each of whom had the opportunity for multiple rolls. There was also a few purple belt matches and a brown belt rolled with a purple and won. The standouts of the day came from the kids and teens division, many of whom showed skill level well beyond their years. The second day was the no gi competition, for whatever reason the no gi tournaments around here tend to attract a larger crowd, and there was probably about 50% more present for the no gi. Once again the skill level has risen in the area dramatically since I first began covering events, and there was plenty of action on the mat this day. (Check out the highlight videos to the right!) In the spirit of the day I even got on the practice mat and rolled around some with Caveman, Joe Hurst was spotted as well, and Poppa John, sporting his new black belt, probably never left the mat. After the last medal was given out, it was time for the drawing for the TV, won by Jason from Atlanta, and i don’t think I’ve seen a happier reaction from a competitor in sometime. I had an unbelievably good time my weekend in Charlotte for the Budweiser Nationals. The Budweiser Worlds will be the first major event of 2007 (held in January in the same area) and promises a larger venue, more competitors, larger cash prizes than before and a list of sponsors surpassing every expectation. I’ll be out to that one for sure, and you should as well, but for a sheer “family” style experience it’s going to be hard to beat this weekend.