Photo by JD Alden
"The competition was fierce in both the male and female brackets, the Youth No Gi divisions were certainly talent-rich with competitors who are sure to become extremely high-level BJJ practitioners as they grow up within the sport."
Grappling tournaments come in all shapes and sizes, falling under a different set of rules, different methods of entry for the competitors and distinctly different structures. This depends almost entirely on the promoter of the event and which, if any, Jiu Jitsu or grappling federation that promoter operates under. A relatively new, as implied by the name, promotion in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA competition scene is a company called New Breed. Originally an apparel company, New Breed is now a major fight promotion company which has begun staging events and tournaments across the United States with increasing frequency and range. The “Summer Classic” is an event held in several cities in the months of May and June, following the IBJJF point system of scoring and a classic single or double elimination format, depending on the number of competitors available in the respective divisions.
The event took place in Tampa, FL in the heat of 11 May on the sprawling University of South Florida campus, occupying the smaller North Gym building of the University's athletic complex. This was an amateur tournament that encompassed a number of different divisions, running the gamut from Youth White Belt, Boys and Girls, to Men's No Gi Heavyweight, Advanced and Intermediate. The divisions were categorized by age, weight and skill level and covered the entire spectrum of BJJ and grappling competitors.
The day began with competitor's weigh-ins, held the morning of the competition. Competitors had already registered for the event online through a hosting platform called Smooth Comp, where one could also buy spectator's tickets, so they were required to fall within the range of their respective weight classes the morning of the competition in order to be eligible. The floor of the North Gym stood completely covered in tatami mats, being divided into eight separate rings labeled A-H. This meant that multiple matches would take place side by side throughout the day, with spectators seated in the bleachers and coaches allowed on the sides of the mats. The USF North Gym was packed throughout the entire event, the crowd made up of many of the competitor's families as well as college students with an interest in the martial arts.
The tournament began with the Youth No Gi divisions, male and female competitors taking the mat simultaneously. Central Florida is a hot bed for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hosting many different academies and gyms with distinct lineages going back to some of the great masters. Within the Youth No Gi divisions, some of the schools which were represented included Gracie Barra Tampa, Oliveira Jiu Jitsu, Brigadeiro Mount Dora Academy, each of which had over a dozen youth competitors, as well as smaller academies like Roberto Traven and Marcio Cruz Academy.
Photo by JD Alden
The competition was fierce in both the male and female brackets, the Youth No Gi divisions were certainly talent-rich with competitors who are sure to become extremely high-level BJJ practitioners as they grow up within the sport. Some highlights included the Youth Advanced No Gi divisions, where some high level wrestling vs. judo technique was on display in the match between Sadie McLaughlin and Jazlyn Diaz (pictured to the left). Ultimately, McLaughlin was able to capture the division with a well earned decision victory over Diaz after completing an excellent single leg takedown and passing her guard several times.
The Youth Divisions concluded with a small medal ceremony in the corner of the gym with the competitors mounting the podium, Olympic style, amid a crowd of smiling, picture-taking parents and relatives. At the end of the day, there were 180 Gold, 169 Silver and 111 Bronze Medals awarded across all divisions in total. The Tampa New Breed Classic was, by the numbers, primarily a youth tournament, with over 250 competitors across 15 divisions, but the tournament also showcased some high-level adult competition. There were too many brackets to list all the winners in the Youth Division, but the results are made available for each competition through Smooth Comp, at
Behind every amateur grappling tournament is an individual or group that brings all the disparate elements together that it requires to stage such an event. The personality-some would say the mastermind-behind the New Breed Challenge events is a man named David Heller, who caught up with GrapplerMag outside of the event.
GrapplerMag: Hello sir, can you introduce yourself?
David Heller: My name is David Heller, I am the President of New Breed.
GM: So how did you get into the tournament and promotion game?
DH: Well, I started New Breed in 2006, which began as a martial arts apparel company. We added the Tournament Division of the company in 2012. We got into fight promotions originally by sponsoring professional fighters, such as Chris Leben and Thiago Alves in the UFC. Tapout stole Thiago Alves from me (laughs). When the Reebok Deal came along, that ended that because fighters were no longer able to have their own individual sponsors.
In 2012, we were looking to expand and we saw the need for a more professionally operated, friendlier kind of amateur grappling tournament. Many of the events that I'd seen up until that point seemed poorly organized, like they were just taking people's money without providing a proper tournament experience, so we felt there was a need for this.
GM: So New Breed hosted its first tournament in 2012?
DH: Yes, we held our inaugural event in April 2012. We expanded rapidly after that. This year alone, we will be hosting more than 50 events across the United States. During this summer, that means an event every single weekend.
GM: So you really have grown quickly then!
DH: No kidding. I'm a busy guy but I love doing this.
GM: So what brought you to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in particular, sir?
DH: Well, personally I began training in Japanese Jiu Jitsu. I earned my black belt rank some time ago and am currently a second-degree black belt in this discipline. I have cross-trained in many different martial arts, though I always stuck to No Gi BJJ and still don't have a rank in Gi BJJ. For a time, I owned and operated my own Japanese Jiu Jitsu gym, before the UFC had become so popular or well known.
I trained in Judo, traditional Boxing and Muay Thai during this time, but I had to put my own training to the side in order to focus on growing the business after I launched New Breed in 2006. I also had cumulative injuries from muay this, judo, boxing etcetera. I found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and fell in love with it. I'd say that running these tournaments is my path. In the future, without saying too much, we plan on getting into other areas (of martial arts promotion) as well.
Photo by JD Alden
At the end of the day, it is people who play the role of martial arts entrepreneur that allow amateurs to compete in grappling tournaments. It is a relatively new phenomenon on this scale, as you can now go compete in tournaments like the New Breed Summer Classic in any major city in the U.S., as well as many, many other cities worldwide, on any given Sunday. Well almost, maybe every third Sunday of the month at least.
The beautiful thing about large, yet accessible events like this one is that it is largely a family or team-oriented experience for many of the competitors. The larger half of the day involved the Youth divisions battling it out across all eight rings, everything from 10-year-old white belts experiencing their first tournament to fierce competition between 17 year olds in the No Gi divisions. There were more than a dozen martial arts gyms represented from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area in which the tournament was held, the sense of community was apparent among its competitors and their families. Many of the Youth competitors’ parents were themselves competing later in the day, beginning around one o'clock in the afternoon, when the Mens and Womens divisions took the mats.
New Breed will be hosting events nearly every weekend this Summer across the United States, including another Summer Classic in Philadelphia, PA on June 1st and hosting the U.S. Nationals in Coral Springs, Florida on June 23rd. To see more upcoming events or the results of previous ones, visit:
To check out other events in the United States or to register, go to:
Keep rolling, folks.