Art of Grappling USA

Art of Grappling USA

By Matthew Gathier

art of grappling usa

Saturday March 30th at the Hilton in Downtown Tampa, a star was born. That star was not a person; instead it was a tournament with much success. The Hilton was the sight of the 1st ever Art of Grappling USA tournament. The event was a breakthrough debut for the promotion. The success of the tournament was immediately seen. Hundreds of competitors, families, and fans were in attendance to watch a beautifully run tournament. The level of organization and preparation radiated through the venue as everything went smoothly and the tournament ended just as scheduled. It appeared as if they had done this many times before. The Art of Grappling USA is run by the same team that runs the World Class Fight League. They bring so much experience to the table and this is the reason for their great success. They could not have done this alone though. They teamed up with Cris Midget Twister Rodriguez. Cris is the owner and head instructor at Gracie Pac MMA in Tampa, FL. She is the first female BJJ Black Belt under Rob Kahn and Royce Gracie. She brings many years of high level experience to the table and thus the reason why she was brought in as a co-owner for the Art of Grappling. Duane Spires and Ralph Garcia have brought nothing but top notch professionalism to the WCFL since joining forces and this was no different. They have comprised a team of great people to make sure that their events go as perfectly as possible. Competitors came from all across the state to take part in this inaugural tournament. Many of Florida’s top martial arts schools were well represented.

Today’s event was for competitors age 3-17. Future events will be opened up for competitors of all ages, but it was important to them that the first event be just for the kids and teens. Duane Spires and his wife, Lauren Spires, own Extreme Youth Sports Inc. EYS is an after school and summer program for kids that involves them in any and all aspects of sports, including martial arts. Doing a grappling tournament has been a passion of theirs for a while and no better time to begin than to do so along-side a WCFL event. The tournament was only the first part of what was a long day for the WCFL team. WCFL 3: Breaking Point took place later in the evening. (See WCFL 3: Breaking Point Recap for full details on that event). The next Art of Grappling tournament will also coincide with a WCFL event. They are looking at some time in May or June for this to take place. Stay tuned for more details.

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