NAGA's first trip to Tennessee was a big success. The area is a hotbed of grappling talent.

GALLATIN, Tenn. – In its near 17-year history, the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) has held grappling tournaments across the country, but until recently, it had never made a stop in Tennessee.

That all changed when the organization held the NAGA Tennessee Grappling Championship on November 12-13 at the Gallatin Civic Center, just north of Nashville.

“We have been going to Georgia for about 10 years now, and a number of teams that traveled to Atlanta on a regular basis kept asking us to come to Nashville,” said Kipp Kollar. NAGA founder and president. “We had about 650 competitors for this event, which is enough for us to keep coming back. That’s a good number for a first time event.”

Kollar also said that he received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from those who were in attendance.

“More [positive feedback] probably than any place I’ve ever been,” Kollar said. “We’ve had a lot of people thank us for coming, say that they enjoyed themselves and they look forward to us coming back.”

As for when NAGA will return to the state, Kollar said that in 2012 the organization plans on holding a Spring event in Nashville followed by one in Memphis later in the year.

In attendance for the event was Bellator fighter Daniel Straus, who was competing in his first NAGA tournament.

“Basically I was down at American Top Team training and before returning home I saw online that NAGA was having an event here in Tennessee,” Straus said.  “I’ve heard about NAGA for awhile, but I had never competed in an event before, so I signed up for it and came out.”

Straus, who won first place in his division, said that he wants to continue competing in grappling tournaments to improve his skill and become a better fighter.

“I definitely want to keep competing,” Straus said. “I had a lot of fun and I want to get in as many grappling tournaments as I can. The guys I went up against were really tough, and I just want to keep competing and making myself better.”

In addition to making its first stop in Tennessee, NAGA will be making its debut in Canada later this year with the Toronto Grappling Championship.

“It’s one of those things where we needed a second set of mats and a second and third truck in order to supply all of these tournaments with the equipment they need,” Kollar said. “Now we have that, so we’re going to head up to Toronto for a two-day tournament beginning on December 2.”

With its ongoing expansion, Kollar believes NAGA’s professionalism is what appeals to most people and has led to the organization’s continued success.

“I think a lot of tournaments are run by schools trying to make an extra buck, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a lot of their staff are just volunteers,” Kollar said. “They’re not professionally trained referees. The staff is volunteer and if you’re a volunteer versus someone who is getting paid, obviously you work differently. And again, we do this every week somewhere different and we’ve been doing this for 17 years, so with that experience you’re a lot better than your competition.”

For more information about the North American Grappling Association, including a calendar of upcoming events and past results, visit

The complete results for each division (team, gi, no-gi, kids)  of the NAGA Tennessee Grappling Championship can be viewed at A video recap of the event can be viewed below.

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