David VanBuskirk Memorial Grappling Event

Nevada Police and Fire Games – Officer David VanBuskirk Memorial Grappling Event
By: William Krieg / wkrieg@bluelinebjj.com
Blue Line BJJ
Written: 04/01/18


I’m going to open up with a bit of honesty. A couple of days ago I learned about this grappling tournament that was tied into the Nevada Police and Fire Games. My first thought was “ahh, wouldn’t it be cool to go to Vegas for a tournament like that.” After all it is Vegas, there will be a bunch of cops training, I love jiu-jitsu, and at my home in Wisconsin the current temperature is struggling to find 40 degrees. I barely noticed it was called the “6th Annual David VanBuskirk Memorial Grappling Event” – and had no idea who David was or why he was tied to the event.

My initial interest was the thought of a bunch of cops getting together for tournament and not to the reason it was called a memorial tournament. However, after taking some time to find out who David was and why he’s associated with this event, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. I should have been more interested in learning who David was and how he served his community than something as simple as a tournament. I feel I owe his family, his co-workers from LVMPD, and his friends from Sergio Penha Jiu-Jitsu an apology for being so superficial.

So, before I get to the tournament information, let me tell you a bit about David and why he is deserving to have his name remembered.


Officer David VanBuskirk #6482

In 2013, David was assigned to the elite Search & Rescue unit of the LVMPD. He was one of the badasses that would lower himself from a helicopter to save someone out in the desert one day, then be working the next as a medic with the SWAT team. He was an absolute professional and a key member of their unit. Outside of the department, he spent a lot of time training jiu-jitsu. It’s my understanding he especially loved training in the gi. Through hard work and dedication, he joined another elite group when he earned his black belt under Sergio Penha.

Tragedy struck on July 22nd, 2013, when David was killed in the line of duty. He died due to a fall while on a rescue mission to save an injured hiker. David lowered himself down from a helicopter and secured the injured hiker to the line. During the accent back up to the helicopter with the hiker, David somehow became disconnected. The hiker was successfully rescued, but sadly David died from injuries resulting from the fall. He was just 36 years old.

LMPD put together a couple of videos in his honor that I think everyone should watch. The videos are embedded below. Even if you aren’t going to the tournament, take the time to honor David by watching the videos. His life and his service are truly worthy of a tournament named in his honor.

The first video shows David in his search and rescue role at LVMPD. In his own words he explains what it meant to him to be on the Search and Rescue Team. You’ll even see a few clips of him in a gi training.

The second video is from the press conference where Sheriff Douglas Gillespie spoke about the tragic death of Officer David VanBuskirk.

The third video is an emotional tribute showing funeral procession along with various audio and video clips. My heart truly goes out to the family and those on LVMPD that knew David. Such a sad event.

And now that we all know who David is and why he is so deserving to be remembered, we can rightfully talk about the tournament that carries on his name.


About the Tournament

This tournament is a part of the larger 2018 Nevada Police and Fire Games being held in Las Vegas, NV. The games are scheduled for July 30th through August 5th, with the submission grappling potion being held on Saturday, August 4th, 2018.

The “down and dirty” of the tournament is this:

  • Date: 08/04/18
  • Time: 0900-1200 (with optional weigh-ins at 0830)
  • Location: Sergio Penha’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, 3904 Schiff Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89103
  • Coordinator: Will Huddler (w7789h@lvmpd.com) 702-589-6669
  • Coordinator: Dave Callen (d6717c@lvmpd.com) 702-217-9965
  • Coordinator: Mike Garces (m7949g@lvmpd.com)

Competitors do not need to be resident of Nevada to compete. All registrations must be completed and paid by July 4th, 2018 in order to guarantee your requested shirt size. After that date, the event organizers cannot guarantee your size will be available when you check in at the tournament. Effective July 16th, 2018, a late fee of $10 will also be added to your registration.

This is very important: It is mandatory to have two forms of picture ID during the check-in/weigh-in process. One of which needs to be a police or fire ID.

Additional requirements listed on their website:

  • Must be a sworn/full-time law enforcement officer or firefighter
  • Must be over 18 years of age
  • Must be in good shape, without pre-existing medical issues that may adversely affect performance and bring undo harm to self and/or other competitors
  • Competitors can also be retired officers or firefighters or the spouse of an eligible competitor. Of further information, consult the Nevada Police and Fire Games website

As a cool side note, Sergio Penha, the world-renowned Master Jiu-Jitsu Professor and host of this tournament, is offering the ability for competitors to participate in his Friday night BJJ class (GI) on July 28th at 5:30pm. This class will be held at Sergio’s school (same address as the tournament venue).

The organizers for this event are looking to make this their largest tournament to date. We at Blue Line BJJ want to help them achieve their goal by promoting this event as much as possible to our audience. To further show our support, Blue Line BJJ will be giving away two full sets of gi patches at the tournament. The patch sets will be given to the 1st and 2nd place finishers in the absolute gi division. Want a cool set of Blue Line BJJ patches? Get signed up at the tournament and kick some butt!

Click Here to Go to the Registration Page

Click Here to Go to the Original Site


Tournament Rules and Set-Up

We encourage you to go to the official event page for the most current information regarding the tournament. The information listed below was copied directly from the site, but it may have changed since this article was written. All information provided here is subject to change and Blue Line BJJ is not responsible for anything that is no longer current.

Skill Levels

  • Novice: 1 year or less no gi (white belt)
  • Beginner: 1-3 years no gi (blue belt)
  • Intermediate: 3-6 years no gi (purple belt)
  • Advanced: 6+ years no gi (brown and black belts)
  • Absolute Division – GI SUBMISSION ONLY

New for 2018, the absolute GI SUBMISSION ONLY division is in honor of David who loved to train traditional BJJ in a gi. Once the no-gi brackets are complete, competitors who wish to compete in the optional Absolute Division will have the opportunity to don a gi and compete in the open division. “Open” as in terms of weight and experience. NPAF COMPETITORS MUST COMPETE IN THE REGULAR DIVISION TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE ABSOLUTE DIVISION.

Length of Matches
Advanced and Absolute Division is 6 minutes. All other divisions are 5 minutes.

Weight Classes
150 lbs and below, 151-165, 166-180, 181-195, 196-210, 211 and above (if there aren’t enough competitors to fill each class, the Directors will pair up the closes possible competitors in terms of balancing size and experience).

*They encourage all participants to pre-register at South Point Hotel & Casino no later than July 29th so they can set the divisions. You can pay and compete the day of the event and they will fit you in your weight class or one above if yours is full. Pre-registration is the best way to solidify your weight class.

Age Divisions (Same weight/skill level)
21-35 Years Old – Adult
35+ Years Old – Masters

*Making split age divisions will depend on total number of participants. Masters athletes may be asked to compete in adult divisions.

*FEMALE competitors are encouraged to compete. Please pre-register so that classes/divisions can be organized.

Absolute Division (Gi – Submission Only)
Advantages will be scored at 1 point each for legitimate submission attempts. Legitimate submission attempts cause the opponent to make an overt act to escape or defend.


Point System for No-Gi Tournament (Must establish position for referee 3 count)


  • Takedowns landing in guard – 2 points
  • Sweep/reversal landing in guard – 2 points
  • Takedown landing in side mount – 3 points
  • Sweep/reversal landing in side mount – 3 points

Positions/Passing the Guard

  • Knee on Belly – 2 points
  • Side Mound Position – 3 points
  • Mount Position – 4 points
  • Back Mount – 4 points


  • Near Takedown – 1 advantage
  • Near Sweep or Reversal – 1 advantage
  • Near Guard Pass – 1 advantage

Advantages count towards the match if the score is tied at the end of regulation. All actions and positions must demonstrate control for a referee 3 count. Guard pulling (determined by the referee) is allowed and is not score for the top competitor. If a takedown is initiated and guard is pulled points for a takedown will be awarded.

Submission Attempts for Absolute Gi Division Only
Valid submission attempt – 1 point

Illegal Techniques

  • No neck cranks
  • No heel hooks (except advanced division)
  • No bicep or calf cutter (except intermediate and advanced division)
  • Other illegal techniques for all divisions
  • No striking, biting, eye gouging (including chin to eye), small joint manipulation (finger and toe locks), hair pulling, or ear pulling.
  • No fish hooking or fingers in an orifice
  • No intentional lifting up and slamming your opponent

Referee’s call stands

Ways to Win (standard bracket no-gi)

  • Via tap out either physically or verbally or the opponent cannot continue
  • Via points
  • Via advantages if the score is tied
  • Via opponent disqualification
  • Via referee’s decision after overtime.

A competitor may be disqualified for any of the illegal techniques listed above if deemed intentional. In a case where a competitor cannot continue due to an illegal technique applied, the offending grappler will be disqualified.

Stalling is called by the referee anytime a competitor is deemed to be passive by avoiding action or backing out of bounds. The referee will give one official warning for the first offense, followed by 1-point deduction for the second offense, 2-point deduction for the third offense, and disqualification on the fourth offense.

Note: Controlling an opponent in an established grappling position such as mount, side control knee on belly, etc is not stalling, its grappling.

Restarts will be in the same position in the middle of the mat.

Fleeing submission by running out of bounds will result in a 2-point deduction for first offense. The competitors will be restarted in the center of the mat in the same position/submission. Fleeing a submission out of bounds a second time will result in disqualification.

If the score including advantages is tied at the end of the round, the match will go into overtime. Overtime will be limited to a 3-minute round (scored like a normal round, starting from the standing position). At the end of the overtime if the score is still tied there will be a sudden victory round where the first competitor to score will win the match.

*If a match needs overtime or sudden victory rounds there will be a 90 second rest between each round.

At weigh-ins all competitors will be checked for communicable diseases, not limited to but including ringworm and bacterial infections. Fingernails and toenails should be neatly trimmed. No part of the body should have any sticky or oily substance.

Competition Attire
Well-fitting t-shirts or rash guard, board shorts (no pockets), gi pants. In no-gi, competitors may not grab or hold onto opponents clothing. Competitors are not allowed to wear a rash guard under a t-shirt as this lends to an unfair advantage and adds to elusiveness. Be cool, this is not a tense, uber-competitive tournament. They are honoring one of their fallen brothers and our job as cops and firefighters is tough enough. So, the number one rule – be humble and don’t take this competition so serious.

The website lists the prizes as camaraderie, loyalty, family and respect as prizes. However, Blue Line BJJ will be throwing in a free set of gi patches to the finalists of the absolute division. We realize that’s not much, but our group is less than 6-months old. Give us some time to grow and hopefully we can do better down the road.

Links to Register
Sport Submission Wrestling Men: 32A01
Sport Submission Wrestling Women: 32A21
Absolute Men: 32A02 (must compete in sport division to be eligible)
Absolute Women: 32A22 (must compete in sport division to be eligible)


Click Here to Go to the Registration Page

Click Here to Go to the Original Site


Do you have any thoughts or comments? Please visit Blue Line BJJ on Facebook to discuss. Thank you for taking the time to read this and be safe out on the streets.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are entirely my own and are not to be taken as official views from the city or law enforcement agency where I work. Any techniques that are demonstrated or discussed are to be done at your own risk. Consult with your local district attorney and your agency policy before implementing anything learned on this site. Federal law, State law, and agency policy always trump my opinion.

Related Topics: Brazilian, Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu, JiuJitsu, Cop, Police, Officer, LEO, Law Enforcement, Corrections, Jailer, Training, Tactical, Courses, Seminars, Functional, Fitness, Police