Founded by Brendan Hufford, a long-time supporter of Tap Cancer Out (we appeared on his podcast way back when), GiReviews.Net is a website that offers reviews, information, coupons and more for BJJ gear on the web. In 2013, Brendan not only wanted provide gently used (and reviewed) Gis to his readers at a great discount, but also raise money for on our behalf. We thought it sounded like a great idea.
“I’m so incredibly thankful for the GiReviews.Net community because all of this is possible because of them,” said Hufford. “The ability to passing blessings in my life onto others is something that’s really important to me and I owe a giant THANK YOU to the entire community for allowing me to be a part of YOUR giving.”
I’ve been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for about five and a half years. I started in BJJ because I wanted to stay and shape while also competing, and my prior sport (volleyball) required too much dependence on other people. If I wanted to compete, I needed to find six guys, all with the proper skill sets, who were free on a certain day. With BJJ, I could be part of a team, but when it came time to compete, I only needed to depend on myself (and my competitors, I suppose).
In those five and a half years, I’ve competed fairly often. I haven’t competed on the largest stages—the Worlds, the Pans, etc. (I’m on the east coast)—but have done numerous NAGA, Grappler’s Quest, Good Fight tournaments as well as smaller, local tournaments. I competed at white, blue, and purple belts, gi and no-gi. I’ve weighed in night before (cutting extreme weight), morning-of, and seconds before the match. I haven’t experienced it all, but I have experienced a lot.
I’ve had a few great experiences, but more often than not some part of the tournament left a bad taste in my mouth. At one tournament, as was a white belt competing in no-gi, there were more than 30 guys in my division, as well as more than 30 in the division before mine. My wife drove two hours to watch me compete. She sat there for 5 hours—from 10:30 to 3:30pm. When she had to leave due to a prior commitment, I was still waiting for my first match. I finally drove home at around 8pm. I had lost both my gi and no-gi matches in the first round. I spent more hours sitting on the bleachers waiting than minutes on the mat competing. I questioned whether or not I wanted to compete again.
5 Reasons You’ll Enjoy the TCO BJJ Open
All of these experiences have taught me valuable lessons about running an efficient and enjoyable tournament. So when I decided to host a BJJ tournament of my own to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I vowed to create the experience and atmosphere that I would want as a competitor. Here are some of the ways I turned it into a tournament competitors would enjoy:
1. Affordable Entry Fee and Perks
Every competitor will agree—it’s expensive to compete in BJJ tournaments. Most tournaments will cost you anywhere from $80 to $120, just for ONE division. It’s just too cost prohibitive for most people. So I wanted to make our tournament affordable. At just $40 for one division and $56 for two (pre-registration only) for our earlybird pricing, it’s one of, if not THE, most affordable BJJ tournament around.
If you fundraise more than $250, you can compete for FREE. It only takes a single email to family and friends to raise that much ($25 from 10 people), so it’s a pretty good deal. Plus, the more you fundraise, the more perks you can earn like patches, t-shirts and rashguards. The top 4 fundraisers earn a FREE Inverted Gear gi!
2. Well Organized
There are a number of steps I wanted to take in order to ensure a smooth tournament. At our first tournament the only major mishap was having to bracket the day-of, and we were admittedly ill-prepared. Though everything ran well after about a 40-minute delay in the morning, I couldn’t let it happen again. That’s why we require pre-registration, which allows us to have the brackets ready ahead of time (not worrying about running back and forth to the bracketing table). Plus, at too many tournaments overworked table-workers are double and triple tasking, trying to manage brackets while keeping score; keeping time while calling the next fighters. So we have at least two, if not three, volunteers working at the table, plus a dedicated ring coordinator who manages the brackets and gets the next fighters ready so there are no delays, no fighters hovering over the table, and far less confusion.
3. Great for All Belts, White to Black
My first tournament as a white belt was overwhelming. There were SO many people there that I completely psyched myself out. We’re all here for a good cause, so the stress level is low (it’s not the Worlds or anything). If you’re looking for the right opportunity to get acclimated to BJJ competition, this is it.
Even though we’re a great environment for beginners, that doesn’t mean advanced grapplers won’t enjoy it either. We have had some very accomplished brown and black belts join us, so you’ll be able to test yourself. Plus, since it’s so cheap, why not get the experience?
5. Safe – IBJJF Rules with IBJJF Refs
The TCO BJJ Open follows the IBJJF rule set, which strictly prohibits all heel hooks and restricts knee bars and toe holds to the advanced belts. I know some people prefer the “anything goes” mentality of some of the larger tournaments, but if you want to be a world champion, you have to compete under IBJJF rules. We hire certified IBJJF referees, so you’ll know the referees are qualified and you won’t lose a match simply because of incompetence.
6. Fun – For a Great Cause
At the TCO BJJ Open, competitors come to win, for sure, but year after year I see such amazing sportsmanship and so many smiling faces that reassures me that we have something special on our hands. Everyone knows we are coming together for a cause much bigger than BJJ. Winning and losing on the mat doesn’t mean nearly as much as helping so many people in need who are fighting a real fight with cancer.
We are here to show the world what type of people make up the BJJ community. In two years and 3 tournaments, we’ve raised over $85,000, and this year we’ll be breaking even more records.
After two years fundraising more than $85,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we are thrilled to announce that our 2014 beneficiary organization will be St. Baldricks!
You may recognize them from their signature head-shaving events, but the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives. They do one thing and they do it well: fund childhood cancer research. Whether it’s through their signature head-shaving events, partnerships or advocacy initiatives, St. Baldrick’s primary focus is to have the greatest impact for kids with cancer around the world.
Childhood cancer hits a certain chord with our team. Tap Cancer Out was founded in part to honor Michael Corb, the nephew of our co-founders Jon and Becky Thomas, who lost his battle with leukemia at only 9 months old.
More than 175,000 children each year are diagnosed with cancer. That’s one every three minutes, and it has a ripple effect through the whole family.
All proceeds from Tap Cancer Out’s fundraising tournaments, volunteer-run events, merchandise sales, direct donations and more will be given to St. Baldrick’s at the end of the year as a gift on behalf of the entire Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community. If you attend one of our tournaments, you can even get your head shaved!
So let’s get started tapping childhood cancer out!
2013 has come to a close, and boy, was it an incredible year for Tap Cancer Out. If 2012 was the year of firsts—Our first tournament and our first major gift to our beneficiary—then 2013 was the year of twos: Two tournaments; Donations to two chapters of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and a gift totaling more than double the previous year’s total.
Our flagship tournament, the Tap Cancer Out Spring BJJ Open, kicked off the year with a bang. 74 competitors set up fundraising pages motivating 926 donors to raise more than $37,500. On April 13th, 200+ competitors from dozens of schools around the tri-state area took part in the tournament, which ultimately raised over $41,000.
Only a few months later we made our first trip out of Connecticut, taking the Tap Cancer Out BJJ Open to Danvers, MA on the tremendous St. John’s Prep campus. 200 more competitors joined us, including 55 fundraisers whose 339 donors raised another $12,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The fundraising didn’t stop there. In an act of pure selflessness, Tap Cancer Out supporters in the St. Louis, MO area who couldn’t attend our tournaments in the northeast, took it into their own hands to put together an event on behalf of our nonprofit. Sponsored by BJJ Legends Magazine, the Black Friday Grapplethon, which included a full day of grappling, seminars and giveaways, raised over $6,000 for Tap Cancer Out. This was far and away the most successful volunteer-run event in our nonprofit’s short history. But more importantly, Matt and the Black Friday Grapplethon has created a blueprint for other volunteers to host their own events to support our cause.
All of this allowed us to present the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with our largest gift ever: a $60,000 check—$45,000 of which was given to the Connecticut chapter and $15,000 to the Massachusetts chapter.
“Tap Cancer Out is an inspiration, as well as a model for how to make a difference in the lives of those with cancer,” said Karen Tatro, Campaign Specialist at the Massachusetts chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “Thanks to the generosity and hard work of the Tap Cancer Out team, participants and supporters, we are able to travel that much further on the road to end cancer – not someday, but today.”
We couldn’t do any of this without our amazing sponsors. Inverted Gear was not only the premier sponsor for our two tournaments, providing the top fundraisers with a Gi of their choice, but also collaborated with us to produce our first Gi for sale at our store! RollMore.com (from the good folks at BJJHQ) launched this year and donated 10% of their first week’s sales, which resulted in a generous donation of $1,012. RichO’s Photography shot our Danvers tournament brilliantly. Fight Soap joined us at both tournaments, donating ALL their sales from the day. Mass Printing has produced all our shirts and stickers and Manto both designed and produced our awesome new rashguards.
It truly was a monumental year for our small nonprofit. With the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community fully behind us, we can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us.
RollMore.com, the newest site from the folks at BJJHQ, has everyone in the jiu-jitsu community raving. The site, which launched in early December, features a vast selection of BJJ gear from great brands (and Tap Cancer Out supporters) like Inverted Gear, Manto and Scramble and a 60-day Gi warranty that simply can’t be beaten by any other site.
But aside from the site’s great deals, brands and warranty, it is run by some great people. That’s because RollMore.com is run by the folks who brought you BJJHQ, which was one of the first brands that supported our nonprofit. Aaron and his team knew the launch of RollMore.com would be huge, and he wanted to make sure Tap Cancer Out would benefit from it!
For the first week of it’s launch, 10% of the proceeds from RollMore.com were given to Tap Cancer Out, which resulted in a donation of $1,012!! We couldn’t be more thankful to receive a donation like this, especially during the holidays.
So if you haven’t already, head over to RollMore.com and pick up some BJJ gear!
A nonprofit organization is truly defined by its generous volunteers.
This was never more evident when Matt Corley of BJJ Legends Magazine reached out to us with a brilliant idea—the Black Friday Grapplethon. The 12-hour Grapplethon, hosted by Finney’s Hit Squad, just steps from the Mississippi River, would unite grapplers around the St. Louis area to raise money on behalf of Tap Cancer Out.
Numerous sponsors stepped up, including OSS Gear, Fight Soap, Ronin Brand, Tatami Fightwear, CTRL Industries, Digitsu and more, to provide awesome merchandise and prizes for the fundraisers and attendees. Over 50 participants from 10 different gyms, including 17 who fundraised on our behalf, came together to support our cause, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Ultimately, the event, which featured mini-seminars from Nova União brown belt Nick Sanders and ATT/Kiko France black belt Ezra Lenon, raised over $6,000 for Tap Cancer Out. This is far and away the most successful volunteer-run event in our nonprofit’s short history. But more importantly, Matt and the Black Friday Grapplethon has created a blueprint for other volunteers to host their own events to support our cause.
All of us at Tap Cancer Out and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society thank Matt, the sponsors, Finney’s Hit Squad, the fundraisers, attendees, and all those who made this event possible.
If you’re interested in hosting your own Grapplethon to support Tap Cancer Out, shoot us an email and we’ll get you started!
Our origin stories are what defines us. Superman, Batman, Spiderman—all our heroes, real and make believe, come from somewhere. Many of these stories feature hardship, loss and even failure.
Tap Cancer Out’s story is no different.
In October of 2013, Tap Cancer Out founder Jon Thomas was invited to Springfield, MA, to TEDxSpringfield, to talk about the beginnings of Tap Cancer Out, why he chose the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community to base his cancer-fighting charity within, and why those who truly make a difference in this world don’t wait for the perfect opportunity.
What better way to work off the insane amount of over-indulging from Thanksgiving than to spend the day rolling with your friends and teammates for a good cause?
On November 29th in Granite City, IL (just outside of St. Louis), the good folks at BJJ Legends are hosting a 12-hour Grapplethon in support of our nonprofit, Tap Cancer Out. The Grapplethon is a 12-hour event—8am to 8pm—where grapplers can get together and train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Participants are encouraged to set up a fundraising page on behalf of Tap Cancer Out. By doing so, they can take part in giveaways from the events generous sponsors including Tatami Fightwear, Q5 Labs, OSS, Killer Bee Kimonos, Ronin and more! If you raise a minimum of $50 you’ll get a Meerkatsu custom-designed Grapplethon t-shirt!
Leave the politics at the door. ALL GRAPPLERS from ALL SCHOOLS are welcome: NoGi or Gi, kids and adults. Everyone is welcome.
When: Friday, November 29th, 8am to 8pm Where: Finney’s HIT Squad, 400 A St., Suite D, Granite City, IL How: Contact Matt Corley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested Fundraising: Head over to the online fundraising platform to set up your page
More Information: At the Facebook Page