Time and time again you hear about big visions and dreams but not so often do you hear about people who have the cahoonas and drive to get it done and turn those dreams into reality. David Aguzzi is one of those rare creatures that has seen his dreams turn into reality. David is the founder and big boss man at Grappling Industries. We are thankful that David has set some time aside to share his vision behind Grappling Industries and where he intends on taking this exciting brand of BJJ tournament in the future.
Hey David, it’s a pleasure to have you with us here at Open Guard. We have really enjoyed watching and following along with Grappling Industries as it has grown worldwide. For those who may not have had the privilege to have come across grappling industries could you share what it is that you are about and the driving forces behind you creating Grappling Industries?
Thanks guys for having me. Grappling Industries aims to be the middlemen between grappling competitors everywhere by running Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi and nogi tournaments that feature a special format which is Round Robin. The Round Robin format breaks large pools of competitors down into group allowing those competitors in those divisions to have more matches and stack up records against each other rather than the typical lose and you’re out of the event traditional format.
Grappling Industries was started out of a need for more tournaments where we are from which is Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At the time our region only had 1 to 2 tournaments a year and both of those were Gi only events so we thought we would try to supply more opportunity to the competitors around while at the same time also providing a no gi platform to those wanting to do that too.
What a great concept. Losing at any stage of a tournament can really suck, even more so if you are unlucky enough to bow out in the opening round. Having a round robin style of event would take a little bit of the pressure of that opening match allowing competitors to focus on the match rather than the potential early exit from the tournament. This system seems to be working really well for your brand. What would be the biggest contributing factor to Grappling Industries success and growth over the past few years?
We have been in business now for five years which was the start-up phase to our company, the real grind part of getting it going and creating some sort of sustainability to the project. We are really driven here to work on the events and for all five of those years we invested all the profits we made from each of our events into growing and expanding our operation. For the most part, one thing that has really allowed us to achieve success thus far is that we have not only surrounded ourselves with great people but a lot of people are very supportive of us, helping us along the way become more expansion. Through the years, we have met many people that have catered to the growth and development of the company and platform, and we are obviously very thankful.
With so many BJJ tournaments and events popping up on an almost weekly basis, how do you keep yourself ahead of the game?
I think a lot of events are popping up but at the same time a lot of them are local events or annual events that do not have in common with us a mission statement although they do their part of course in helping grow grassroots BJJ events. We are constantly tweaking our events to better them, listening to our competitors so we can improve has paid dividends, and wanting to promote something above average and awesome myself has allowed Grappling Industries to stay sharp where it is. When you work so long on something, you simply want to see a progression or yourself will get tired, I try my best to keep my own company even surprising me with new incentives and deals all the time to the competitors.
The amount of prize money and prizes in general GI gives away at tournaments is amazing, it’s great to see a brand looking after the competitors at all levels, including white belts. You have recently started to introduce super fights at your events, what other surprises do you have up your sleeves?
I really don’t know to be honest. We are just beginning to break into the super fight world of BJJ as we started with that amazing 40 minute dual between Mansher Khera of Marcelo Garcia’s and Eddie Cummings of Renzo Gracie’s. We really want to continue to add bigger incentives and more of them to our events to draw competitors to compete while giving them a better and better event. We are working on some big deals, and big super fights for future shows; along with some new campaign methods we expect to try to continue to progressively expand and grow our brand.
To have and maintain success across 3 countries would be difficult without a team you can trust. We recently caught up with Ben Hodgkinson your Australian business partner how many other people form the Grappling Industries team?
There really aren’t many that work on the day to day operations. I have a content designer, and a tournament bracketing and scheduling manager. The rest of the main roles are more subcontracted to head of staffs who help staff our events or individual promoters we bring on to help us collaborate and further distinguish our brand in new regions.
Having such a hectic schedule planning events across the world and looking for new and exciting locations for competitions, has your own training suffered or do you still find time for your own development?
I have to tell you that it is indeed hard to train full time and run a large company while also balancing other activities and projects in the free time. I love BJJ and have done it since I was only 12 years old which was 17 years ago. Although I don’t have as much time to prepare myself for events, it would be really awesome to pull it together once the company starts flowing perfectly like planned and jump into some of them myself as a competitor. Hard to tell right now, but that would be cool.
In regards to both yourself as a BJJ practitioner and the President of Grappling Industries, what are the short term and long term goals for both yourself and the GI brand?
International expansion and developing a brand name in BJJ is the plan. I want to develop a platform used throughout the world for competitors to distinguish themselves from each other. We have large ideas but if we continue to work hard and truthfully on them then I believe anything can become possible at this point. Over the next 5 years I would love to see Grappling Industries stabilize its foundation in the United States and expand westwards there followed with an expansion to either Europe or to Brazil. I guess being that I have been a brown belt forever, getting a black belt would be neat and also going back to university to finish my degree and get a second are also on my radar. Lots of plans, time is the issue.
Awesome, well David it has been an absolute pleasure having you with us here at Open Guard. We look forward to your upcoming events both here in Australia and Internationally. Is there anyone in particular you would like to thank or anything you have to add?
I want to thank you guys again for giving me this chance to expose myself and brand to your audience on your platform, I appreciate it. I want to throw up a big shout out to Ben Hodgkinson who is my go to guy in Australia and Scott Bacon who led me to actually pursue Australia in the first place after he took a 6 month trip there and commented how well my world would really fit in there. Also, I want to thank the competitors, spectators, supporters, sponsors, and everybody else who has allowed us to get this far and are propelling us even further.
Thanks again David for your time and good luck with all your future endeavours. OSS