The solution, at least for interdisciplinary no-belt competitions like NAGA, might be to implement a uniform performance-based rating or handicapping system that would allow organizers to sort competitors by objective criteria rather than by competitor's whim. Governing bodies in many two-player sports and games use such systems (most based on the ELO system originated in international chess) to assign accurate performance strengths to competitors. It'd take a good deal of logistical work and organizational will, but if NAGA, for example, did that, within a few years they'd have a solid data pool and a reputation as a sandbag-resistant competition.
I fought Beginner until I got my blue, which took more than a year. The local "grappling" organization is run by crooks and the tournaments are administrated poorly. "Beginner" can mean anything from 12 to 18 months, so I didn't really care.
Funny story: At the tournament where I fought up a division I lost my only match to a white belt who later admitted he had been doing Judo and wrestling since he was a kid. Then, earlier this year, I saw him in a three-year old photo on our school's wall, losing to someone who is now a purple belt. I think he even had the same number of stripes.
I will tell a story about me sandbagging.
Back in 93ish I did an exhibition kickboxing match. That was the technical term for it. It wasn't really an amateur fight because those were completely different. It was done at an event called the "No Rules Competition" sponsored by The Dojo. Basically it was an interdiscipline competition. Grappling events, striking events, and weapon events.
There were two divisions for kickboxing. Beginner and advanced. Well, I already had a few amateur fights under my belt so I didn't want to do the beginner. But nobody entered the advanced division in my weight! So I actually wandered around the event trying to talk people into fighting me so I could get the sweet as trophy. LOL!
Okay so one guy bites on the offer. It is basically a guarantee of second place. And he was already signed up for the beginner division. I think he was TKD or something. I feel bad about it now but I beat the **** out of him and humiliated him. I mean I didn't pummel him unconscious or anything but I kicked him out of the ring once. Punched him until he turned away and then kept punching him. And finally at the end of the fight he was so frustrated that he charged me and I dropped a front kick on him that caught him midstep and dropped him on his ass. He fell with his arm behind him and it got kinda twisted up. So he got a little hurt there.
Anways there I was fighting a beginner so I could score a trophy.
Poor guy was taken out of action for the beginner division. Took his 2nd place and went home. Funny story was that a friend of a friend sorta deal knew him and heard his version of what happened. It was even sadder than mine. He said he got forced into a different division against a pro with a bazillion years of experience and the guy tried to kill him. Not exactly how I remember it, but in HIS MIND HE GOT SANDBAGGED.
We had an open no-gi tournament at my school a month back. The divisions were beginners (less than 18months), intermediate(less than four years), and advanced(over four years). A guy who left our club ten years ago as a blue belt to join a different instructor (and is still a blue belt with his new instructor who is apparently the best instructor ever!) had entered the intermediate division. When we called him on it he said that's what his coach told him to go in. So we bumped him up to the advanced division and he lost. That's the worst case of sand-bagging I've ever seen.
The funny thing is, these guys don't see that. You'd think that if their instructor is the best ever, and this guy has been training consistently for 10 years and he's still a blue belt then there's either something wrong with the instructor or with the students. They just claim that they've got higher standards.
My only tournament loss is to a white belt that had wrestled for 12 years before taking BJJ. He also had an amateur MMA record of 3-1 at the time. Funny part is he only ended up taking second. He lost to a guy who had wrestled for a D-I college. The D-I wrestler was in my division again at my last tournament, and he took third while I took first.
The moral of this story? I rule.
Sorry - bud but its such a bad idea without divisions.
You couldn't even have a tournament at that point. The skill disparity between white/blue and black belts is so bad that nobody would waste their time.
For example it is $70 PER DIVISION at grapplers quest this year. You wanna pay that much for one match where you are probably going to get killed so fuckin bad it isn't funny? Factor in waiting about 10 hours for that match, driving 10 hours for that match, and preparing for it for months.
I have enough trouble WITH the divisions.
Well,I'm glad we're telling stories I had this one ready when i noticed to somber posts this morning,So here goes.....
One of my last tournaments I got there in the morning, this time it was at a local elementary school. As I walk in the changing room and I started putting on my gi. This guys walks over to me and asks if I can explain to him on how to tie his belt. I was surprised and I asked him how long he's been doing karate. He tells me that it's his second week. I was like WTF? Your instructor sends you here to compete after ...what? 4 lessons.
After all day of watching the kids compete. I walk over to my area and wait for my division to compete. Now I was a yellow belt at this point. Which is more than a year of karate? The biggest problem with small regional tournaments such as these there's never enough people who can make the long drive to compete.
So as it turns out my only bout of the day is with the guy who just started Karate as o matter of fact. So our fight start. He immediately gives me push with his leg. Not a kick really but lazy push. So I attack him. I’m not nervous. So we slug it out for 1 minute. I decide to give him a knee strike to the stomach but the idiot decides to try and stop it and I end up kneeing him in the privates.
I don't remember much from the fight except that he was punching me harder than I was him. Although I was kicking more however he did back me up a lot when the fight ended the judges voted for him.
**** what a day. I thought I got beat by a white belt. So, I go up to him and I congratulate him and I ask about his experience. As it turns out he's had a lot of boxing experience. So that explains how he pushed me back a few times with just punches.
So this was not my only fight. I have on many occasions fought people of higher ranks than me. I once sparred a BB when I was a lowly green. I look at them as opportunity’s to learn.Unless of oucourse I do get murdered in the ring.Than it just sad
There's always a possibility that you'll get a BJ Penn type character as a blue belt who could beat a black belt. however on the whole I think you'd still have the black belts winning the divisions. BJJ is not like karate where the only difference between white and black is two years experience. I think it would crazy and demoralising for blues, and purples especially to be put against black belts. I also don't see any benefit to this approach.
I sure wouldn't waste my money on tournaments if blacks could enter my division. $50-80 bucks so I can get subbed in under a minute in my first match?