TD for Organizers: The How-To
(version 20130531.01 - this version supersedes previous numbered versions, and all unnumbered versions)
Welcome to TD for Organizers, the unofficial Bullshido document on how to set up a throwdown. The purposes of this guide are three: 1) Provide a template for planning and executing a throwdown; 2) Encourage consistency across geographically disparate throwdowns; 3) Nothing. There is no third thing.
First, a little history. The genesis of this document was during one of Bullshido�s seemingly annual introspective moments, when the participating community and leadership openly discuss ways to increase site membership and participation, and to keep the site relevant for future generations of Bullies. At this particular introspective moment, several members were concerned that the lack of throwdowns in recent years was directly related to stagnation in site growth. Several members expressed interest in organizing a TD, but lacked instruction or experience to do so. This document was initiated to address that issue.
SO, JUST WHAT IS A THROWDOWN (TD)?
In short, it�s a gathering of martial artists doing martial things - sparring and exchanging knowledge. Quoting veteran Bully and TD participant jnp:
We get together, exchange knowledge/techniques, spar a bit under agreed upon levels of contact and rule sets. Sometimes we BBQ.
TD's are mostly about learning and meeting fellow Bullies in person. Most of the Austin/Dallas/Houston crew know each other from previous TD's.
Overall, they're designed to be ego free sparring encounters, although no one is required to participate in the sparring. It's one of the things that separates BS from most other MA sites.
One of the tenets of the Bullshido community philosophy is that martial skill is worthless without regular pressure testing. A great way to pressure test any alive art is to exercise it against other schools of the same art, or better, other alive arts. This allows techniques and skill levels to be evaluated, revised, and refined.
Professional martial artists pressure test themselves in contests like UFC, Pride, etc. Throwdowns give the Bullshido community, many of whom are hobbiest martial artists at best, an opportunity to pressure test their skills and arts against others in their community in a safe, friendly environment.
Which begs the question, what is a throwdown not? A throwdown is not the UFC, though it may bear some similarities to a UFC contest, at times. Nobody is getting paid to do this, and there is no winner. A throwdown is not a Gong Sau (grudge challenge match), though Gong Saus have occurred at throwdowns.
WHY ORGANIZE A THROWDOWN?
If you happen to be lucky enough to live in a Bully-dense area, you probably already have TDs to attend. But, Bullshido is truly an international community, and TDs are not a travelling show. Thousands of Bullies are waiting for somebody to host a TD near them, so they can have a little fun, too.
Friendships are formed. This needs more writing.
Community is cemented. This needs more writing.
IS A THROWDOWN RIGHT FOR YOUR LOCALE?
There are many factors involved in answering this question. The most important is, are there other Bullies nearby that would be willing to participate? Probably your first line of research is to search for and/or start a thread in the Throwdowns subforum to gauge interest in your area. There are also Throwdown Groups, a feature of Bullshido which allows streamlined communication within the group.
Other considerations are availability of facilities (which will be addressed in depth in the next section) and any local regulations, laws, or ordinances concerning gatherings, operating a gym, etc. (I�m flailing a bit, here, need some input).
(deferring this section to Bobby and others, for now)
SCHEDULING YOUR THROWDOWN
Weekends work best for most everyone. Federal holidays (e.g. other than Thanksgiving and Christmas) often afford a long weekend, and occur several times a year. You need to choose a date far enough in advance that people can plan for it, but not so far off that people lose interest or have other �more important,� things come up. What�s most important is to pick a date that works for you, that you as the organizer can commit to. Without that, you will have a hard time attracting any definite attendees.
PROMOTING YOUR THROWDOWN
Here are some ways to promote your TD:
1) Post a thread in the Throwdown subform
2) Post a message to your local Throwdown group
3) Add a link to your TD thread in your Bullshido signature
4) Major Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc. - this probably deserves a write-up)
5) Fliers at your school or other local schools / gyms
6) BS Radio (yeah, there�s a podcast) - contact Phrost to get a radio mention
ATTENDANCE AND RECRUITMENT
As you promote your TD, it�s a good idea to keep track of potential attendees. At the very least, a count of confirmed and maybe going should be kept in your TD thread, so that other members will see value in attending, and also sign up.
Along with promotion, if you have any notable Bullies or other talent, like local black belts that are not Bullshido members, you should include them by name in your TD thread.
If you don�t have any notable Bullies committed to attend, just ask them! Same goes for local schools, etc.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
Make every effort to record some or all of your throwdown! This will aid in promotion of future TDs, allow people to qualify for TD FIST tags, and provide for much lulz and attaboys on the forums.
And, get a group photo! It�s tradition to have a nice photo, and a Bullshido Official TD photo, in which everyone is giving a one-finger salute.
Most modern cell phones and tablets have decent, if not excellent, photo and video capabilities. For action photos, however, you may wish to bring a digital SLR camera. If you don�t have one, solicit your attendees. If nobody has one, local camera shops frequently rent professional-grade equipment for very reasonable prices.
Make sure you have enough film/memory/tape for everything that you want to record.
Certain members may want to participate in the throwdown, but not be recorded or photographed. Make every effort to honor this.
Getting the content online is really the next step. Myriad options, here. Youtube is great, also Vimeo for video. Photobucket, Picasa, Google Drive, Dropbox, Ubuntu One, and Apple iCloud all provide large chunks of free online storage which would be suitable for sharing pictures. Many of these options also do provide some level of anonymity, for those concerned about it.
Make sure you link your uploaded videos into the official Bullshido TD Footage subforum, here: http://www.bullshido.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=98
HOW DO SCUTTLEBUTT - REFRESHMENTS AND AMENITIES
This is going to largely depend on the venue, as different places have different rules as to what can and cannot be brought in to the facility.
Water is a necessity. This should go without saying.
Water is pretty much universally allowed, but consider the quality (taste and temperature) of local drinking water. It may be more desirable to source an Igloo or other ice chest to fill with filtered water or bottles of water. Many grocery stores have reverse osmosis filtering machines which allow you to fill large containers, like an Igloo. Of course, if you go this route, remember to get disposable drinking cups.
(other stuff here...)
AWARDS / FREEBIES
I can haz Bullshido gi patch now? (tbd)
Attending and participating in a throwdown does not automatically qualify one for a TD Fist.
TD Fists are awarded by Bullshido Staff upon request and review for TD video showing the following:
1) competence in all fighting ranges - striking, clinching, and grappling
2) full-contact, medium-hard to hard sparring
3) safety gear/equipment not to exceed:
a) sparring helmet / headgear
b) shin guards
c) forearm/elbow guards
d) proper gloves, weighted between 4oz (MMA gloves) and 16oz sparring gloves
TD Fists are an individual award. It is possible that a sparring session between two people will result in only one person, or nobody, getting a fist.
THROWDOWN RULES / CODE OF CONDUCT
The format of your TD may vary depending on who your attendees are. The following is a suggestion only:
Start by discussing the format for the day.
Usually a light warm-up and/or stretching session is helpful to start to break the ice and get people ready to train.
You may have a few brief lessons or techniques to show to the entire group.
Split into groups for flow rolling / light sparring. Set up a round-robin so that everyone can spar with everyone.
Put everyone on the sidelines for �highlight� matches. Have attendees draw names from a hat, sit back, and watch the fireworks!
Throwdowns are intended to be safe and ego-free. Attendees that are exceedingly risky or have become overheated emotionally may be asked to take a breather, or to leave entirely.
During all sparring, there will be at least one safety observer to ensure collision-free sessions, to referee, and to stop any exchange from becoming dangerous.
It is generally acceptable that any pair of participants agree to a ruleset before they begin sparring. Alternatively, the organizer may specify the ruleset for each round, or for the entire event. Once you have agreed to a ruleset, do not deviate.
As with all sparring, it is important to work yourself up to your partner�s level, rather than to come out swinging for the fences. Start slow, feel your partner out, and gradually increase intensity to find the comfort zone. It is usually desirable to avoid pairing novices. For more information, read Torakaka�s excellent How To Spar: A Guide, which is stickied in the Advanced Striking forum: ( http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=99399
). Even though it�s in striking, the principles apply to all forms of sparring.
EQUIPMENT, HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
Safety equipment will be necessary for certain types of sparring. Some of these items will be highly personal, like mouthguards. Obviously, people should bring their own mouthguards, but you should remind them prior to the event.
Other items, like gloves, shin pads, and helmets can be shared. Check the lost+found bin at your school, and solicit other attendees to do the same. Just make sure you check with the school before borrowing the equipment. This keeps the cost low while allowing anyone who wants to participate. You should make sure to have at least 2 sets of medium and large sizes of these items available for people to use.
It is as important to have the gear as it is to have the correct gear. For striking arts, this means proper glove selection - sparring gloves only (generally 12 or 16 oz, depending on the individuals), not competition gloves or bag gloves should be used. Use of other gloves should be considered hazardous and discouraged/forbidden. For any striking arts that include kicking, you should make every attempt to require cups in proper supporters.
Judoka, SAMBO, and BJJ players will probably bring their own gi/kimono/jacket. But, you may have attendees that don�t participate in those arts on a regular basis and are without. If you have access to a spare gi or two, or if other attendees do, it is recommended to bring it along.
A round timer is very desirable. You may be at a facility that has a nice clock, but also be aware that there are several free and low-cost options for iPhone and Android.
You may wish to have athletic tape and a few Ace bandages on hand. The athletic tape will get used, especially if you have a lot of BJJ players show up. A few instant cold packs or reusable cold packs thrown in your ice chest are also a good idea. Have the number for your local EMS available (hint: it�s usually 911, in the USA), and have a working phone to call it from. Bonus points if any of your attendees are EMTs, physicians, or other similarly-trained professionals to handle sports-related triage.
You may wish to familiarize yourself with a few first-aid protocols. The first two that come to mind are CPR and recognizing/treating heat stress and heat stroke.
Discussions on Bullshido can get heated, and sometimes lead to gong saus. Emotions can and do quickly get out of control just in sparring. You, as the organizer, need to be aware of your attendees and their interactions with other Bullies, both on the site and in the gym. You may wish to bar certain Bullies, or have ample help available to handle a situation that may occur when somebody gets too butthurt and decides to elevate friendly sparring to vendetta.
Gym / facility waivers
Bullshido assumes no liability, etc., etc.
THE AFTER PARTY
I leave this to your imagination... but, the first thing you may want to consider is getting everyone through the showers, first. See also VENUE SELECTION.