Submission challenge takes hold in Arlington

Matt Coble instructs techniques to get an opponent to submit during a grappling class at the Arlington Kickboxing Club. - Travis Sherer
Matt Coble instructs techniques to get an opponent to submit during a grappling class at the Arlington Kickboxing Club.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Submission Challenge had a humble beginning.

“I was just tired of having to drive down to Bonney Lake just to go to a grappling tournament,” said Landon Showalter, owner of the Arlington Kickboxing Academy.

While mixed martial arts tournaments and fights have sprung up all over, grappling and submission challenges have had a slower start and six years ago, the Revolution was the only game in town, but now there are two established tournaments in the state.

Arlington’s Submission Challenge, held at Arlington High School Aug. 21 at 9:30 a.m., has grown into a tournament that has showcased as many as 250 participants and 600 spectators.

But traditional MMA fans should be aware that a submission tournament is different, with the participants needing to force their opponent to tap out or win by position in sudden death. It’s because of this format that Showalter especially enjoys watching his younger fighters participate.

“This tournament teaches guys to compete and learn to finish,” he said. “You see in other tournaments, guys keep the other guy away because they know they can just score points and win. That doesn’t work here.”

Showalter also created this event to help solve the long running debate of which is more difficult, submission with or without a gi — that traditional fighting garb. The Revolution is a gi-only tournament, but the Arlington tournament allows for either.

“There’s talk on both sides about which is harder,” said Showalter. “With this tournament, you just have to back up what it is you say.”

Showalter said he expects this to be one of the more moderately sized tournaments, given its scheduling.

“It’s August and people are getting ready for school and other things,” he said. “But we’ll have around 50-70 participants and close to 200 fans.”

The tournament will be going all day with the main event last, the Elite bracket where the top fighters compete for a belt, $100 and bragging rights with rules that are a little more loose than the rest of the competition.

“It’s pretty tricky because when you get to the advanced guys, they get creative with it,” Showalter said. “You’ll see some flying submissions.”

And the Arlington event has seen its fare share of highly skilled fighters as professionals and amateurs alike compete, including pupils from the likes of MMA fighter Randy Couture.

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