Reflections on Polaris 3

Polaris 3 took place this weekend, and while I watched it live, I don’t think I would have been able to miss it even if I had wanted to. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were blowing up with all kinds of post about the event. R/BJJ had a mega-post and about twenty other post about the event. While most of the conversations were positive—great action during matches, slick transitions, and a Stockton Slap heard ‘round the world—a few negatives like lack of submissions in the main card, camera work, and the replay delay occupied a surprisingly large portion of the discussion. The event as a whole renewed debates about whether or not there’s enough community support for such events, whether jiu-jitsu piracy is justified, and what we as fans could reasonably expect from such events.

While we were a sponsor of the event, which makes me biased, I thought the Matt, Ben, Gareth and the rest of the Polaris crew did an amazing job. The format to me is fine. I don’t see a need for overtime rules or time extensions. Criticisms of the camera work and the replay taking a while to upload are fair criticisms but were hammered a bit too hard. Given how much Polaris has listened to the community before, I think it’s fair to assume that these won’t be a problem in Polaris 4.

The lack of submissions is completely out of their control. They set up the best match-ups possible and hoped for the best, which is really about all that promoters can do. There was something for everyone: a good mixed of local talent, Japanese standouts, American competitors, and Brazilian fighters.

Piracy, however, has reared its ugly head again. Polaris is a small organization, and like many other BJJ events before it, it struggles to stay out of the red. The distribution of pirated videos on social media hurts their PPV buys, and the old argument of whoever was going to buy the PPV did so the day of is ridiculous. While I understand how tight money can be as a struggling BJJ guy (don’t forget that Inverted Gear started in my mom’s basement), I remember a time we had to wait months for a DVD to come out so we could watch events. We have been spoiled lately with the amount of BJJ streams available.

If we enjoy watching what’s being offered and want to see more, we have to support the events. Otherwise, we will lose Polaris, like so many other events before this one. Remember Ultimate Absolute and PSL? I would bet a number of you don’t, and that says a lot about just how hard it is to do what Polaris is doing.

By not supporting these events, we not only risk losing the events themselves but also risk losing the idea of professional grappling altogether. How many great athletes are we going to lose as they make their move to MMA to actually make a living? I would love it if we ever get to a point where guys like Jacare, Damian Maia, Rodolfo Viera, and Kron Gracie can stay in BJJ.

Support BJJ. Stop sharing pirated material.

I’m already looking forward to the next Polaris. For three straight events they have put together great matchups with grapplers from the around the world. I know we’ll see more leg lock battles, more unexpected pairings of competitors (who ever thought that Tonon vs. Palhares would be at thing?), and more innovation from an organization that has already pushed the envelope of what a professional grappling event can be.

And Inverted Gear will be sponsoring it again. If we as a community don’t support these kinds of events, we are only hurting ourselves.

» Buy access to the Polaris Pro 3 PPV (available until Apr 17)