Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aficionados, it is tournament week here in Houston as Zebra Tournament Systems of Texas hosts its first branded event, Grappler’s World War, this Saturday, December 4th, at the Berry Center in Cypress, TX. Boasting a venue with capacity for 8,000 fans along with a star-studded crew of tournament officials headed by tournament director and third degree black belt Leonardo “The Wizard” Xavier, ZTS hopes to bring a Mundial-class experience to competitors and fans alike.
With a roster of referees including black belt instructors Donald Park, Bruno Bastos, Igor Santos, Renan Chavez, Joe Soliz, Hillary Williams, Daniel Alvarez, and Stephen Hall, along with unique touches such as custom awards/medals and product giveaways, this writer is inclined to think this upcoming Grappler’s World War event may just live up to its billing, foretelling bright days ahead for the ZTS group in regards to hosting grand grappling events.
I recently caught up with Rodrigo and Kim Ramirez of ZTS of Texas and Grappler’s World War to gather their thoughts on the December 4th event, what BJJ competitors and fans can expect from this event, and also what the future holds for Zebra Tournaments.
First and foremost, Kim and Rodrigo, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. BJJ practitioners have seen Zebra around at many tournaments locally here in Houston and all over Texas in recent years. However, this is the first time you guys are conducting your own event. When did you (ZTS of Texas) decide to go this route and what do you hope to add to the BJJ scene, both locally and on a national level with your own hosted events?
We have wanted to conduct our own tournaments since we began ZTS of Texas but we felt it was important to take our time to gather information, suggestions, and feedback from coaches and athletes on what they like and dislike about tournaments that they have participated in. With our events, we want to bring the highest quality tournaments, which the competitors deserve wherever they may be.
What will set a Zebra Tournament Systems event apart from the rest? Please describe if you will, the ideal competitor experience from start to finish, as you see it.
We have worked hard on delivering an outstanding venue, top black belt referees, great medals/ awards that competitors will be proud of showing and displaying. When the competitors enter our tournament we have no doubt that they will feel the impact of the arena. Then entering the competition surface they will appreciate rolling on the best mats and being refereed by top black belts. And hopefully when they walk out with their custom award/medal, we feel confident that this will be a destination event they want to come back time and time again.
Win or lose, what do you want competitors to think about your tournament at the end of the day?
We think that everyone will appreciate all of the details that were put into this event and leave thinking they had a great experience. We hope when competitors and parents leave our tournament they will feel that they got their money’s worth, that’s first and foremost in our minds.
Grappler’s World War tournament director Leonardo Xavier recently conducted a referee clinic based around your event. Now I see multiple world champion black belts will be present to referee at the upcoming Grappler’s World War event. Why bring them in and what will their experience add to the event? Will participants in the referee seminar be officiating at this event as well?
Bringing in black belt referees ensures that all matches will be well run fairly. We wanted to make sure that the tournament runs as smooth as possible and that can only be done with experienced referees. Our goal of conducting the referee clinic/course is to seek individuals who show interest in becoming a referee and give them the proper training. ZTS of Texas and Leonardo Xavier feel that it takes more than one course to be a qualified referee so we will continue to offer this course and from there we will select them to work as a referee once Leonardo Xavier feels they are ready. Individuals who have attended the course will have the opportunity to work in other areas of the tournaments such as the scoreboard tables in order for them to watch experienced referees in action. It will give them a chance to be around a tournament environment to gain experience.
Moving forward, what are some of the things we can expect to see in the near future from Zebra Tournament Systems?
People can expect to see us at many BJJ tournaments throughout Texas, whether it be our own or setting up a tournament for a client. At all of these tournaments we will continue to provide the highest quality, clean and aesthetically pleasing equipment.
Anything else you’d like to say to the grappling competitors and fans of Texas?
Be on the lookout for our upcoming sponsorship opportunity and the ZTS of Texas Team. We love to hear from everyone about any suggestions, comments, interested referees and any other ideas you may have. We are in this to give back to the BJJ community and help this sport grow.
There you have it Houston area BJJ fans. For practitioners looking to compete, you can register online via the event website until Thursday, December 2, 2010. There will also be in-person registration this Wednesday, December 1, from 6-9pm at Wings N More, located at 7620 Katy Fwy. Houston, 77024. See you in Cypress!
Event: Grappler’s World War: December 4, 2010
Location: The Berry Center Arena, 8877 Barker Cypress Rd, Cypress, TX 77433
- Gi and No Gi Divsions
- 1st, 2nd, 3rd place team will win a credit to purchase Zebra products
- Custom dog tag medals
- Custom 1 foot tall 50 caliber bullet replicas for expert divisions
- Camouflage Zebra mats
- Sponsor gifts giveaways