Tjoms in Arms 2023

FAA members hugging

What is Tjoms in Arms?

Tjoms in Arms (TIA) is South Africa’s largest climbing community bouldering competition. There is no doubt that people climb their best when they are supported and encouraged. And that is why the event focuses on the personal growth opportunity rather than just winning. Climbing is a lot more important than it looks, and although winning is important, not everyone can. There is a lot more that we can take with this opportunity.

Tjoms In Arms

Friends and Allies - Community is in the Name

TIA is FAs main climbing event of the year. The first year we opened the gym we wanted to create an event that was a lot more inclusive to the general public. An event that represents a bouldering competition where people walk away with a whole lot more.

TIA is an event driven by the community. Without this amazing supportive community we could not string together an event that has a greater effect on people than a regular climbing competition. There truly isn’t an event like this, where you rely on your partner and the encouragement of the other teams. It’s something we have never quite experienced

Friends and Allies Fables

After our first year, people were most psyched about how recked they were after a hard day of climbing. We were surprised and noticed that people loved using these competitions as a ‘training’ session. From this we decided to introduce a bouldering league, Friends and Allies  Fables, FAF. With this idea of a bouldering league in our minds, we took it a step further and structured our FAF series a little differently.

Instead of the classic 2 hours to climb the 12 problems, we have upped the problems to 30 and have given you the whole week to session these well crafted blocs. This allows you to come back multiple times in a week and really try at your limit again and again and again. The week long boulder leagues are also spaced 6 weeks apart to give the right amount of time for a training block before the next one. It’s the ultimate structure to have you training and climbing all year long.

The FAF series acts as a build up to the event. Six boulder leagues building up to the final chapter,TIA. We cannot undersell how much of a role the FAF series adds to the event. The psyche builds up throughout the year. To the point where people can’t even describe the energy in the room, how well/hard they can climb from the encouragement of their tjom, and other tjommies alike.

The Magic Hands that Make it Happen

The boulders are the medium that makes this all happen and it is an incredible skill to put up these problems that take you through a journey of emotions. It is easy to say that our setters are the most important part of this competition. We have a fairly big pool of setters that we lean on to make this happen. We also bring in external setters from around the country to add their own flavor to the event and add mad diversity.

The tools the setter use are as important as the setters themselves. We have some of the world’s best international holds from Blocz, Blue Pill and Unit. Over the last two years we have created new Scallywags volumes, and got new holds just for this competition. Given the trend one could expect something new on the day.

Fun and Flow on the Day

FA is a small space 250sqm, and a lot of that is taken up by the mates. We have had to add some changes to the flow of the day. You will have to sign up to a specific time slot, and that will be the session you climb in. Unfortunately you can not just rock up and expect to climb if the session is full. This is really to give everyone some breathing room and fair numbers in each session, to not over crowd and take away from the climbing. 

To help fill up that time when you are done climbing before the finals, we are going to have a few challenges up and around to test yourself against the rest 😉 With spot prizes up for grabs, hanging around in the afternoon is looking like a good time. To add to the afternoon fun we are also going to have a lekker fun quiz to keep you all entertained. You can definitely expect the quiz to be climbing based as we are already at a climbing event.

TIA is the event we look forward to the most, and our members feel the same. The event leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and good vibes, while longing for it next year.

It Takes Two to Tango

As we have said this is a climbing event like no other, but what exactly makes it that? This is a team based event. This is an event where you and your tjom climb and score together. Like most climbing activities you have your partner that is there to catch you, there to support and encourage you. All the great climbing achievements in history have been accomplished in a team of two or more. So why not have a competition that represents just that? They say that somewhere between the bottom and the summit is the answer as to why we climb.

Choosing your tjom is important, you want them to compliment you and support you and visa versa. To add more to this pot, there are no limits to choosing your partner or age gaps. Guys and guys, girls and girls, and guys and girls can climb together in a team. To give you an example we have had a father and daughter climb together, and yes they probably did better than you 😉

The Quali's

There are 30 rad qualifying problems for you and your tjommie to climb in your 2 hour qualifying session of your choice (you have to pick one). You guys climb and compete together. After your wild 2 hour session, you will submit your score individually into the FA app under your team name. The 10 highest scoring boulders from each of you will be added together to give you an overall score.

You have your partner and you are not alone. With 50 teams competing and only 4 teams from each category climbing in the finals. For most of us we understand we are not here to climb in the finals. So most people spend their day supporting the community, encouraging people and trying to send as many of the 30 problems as possible.

Sessioning in Style at the Finals

For the finals we also tend to do things a little differently. 4 boulder problems in a sessioned styled finals. 8 guys from the guys category, 8 girls from the girls and a further 4 guys and girls from the mixed category. All will be climbing, sessioned styled at the same time for 20 min per boulder. There is a lot happening in the finals at the same time making it one of the most spectacular spectators climbing finals to watch.

Important Take-aways

TIA will take place one week after the last FAF league. Do yourself a favor and climb the last FAF with your Tjom. On the Friday the 1st of September the gym is closed for the day as this is when we have our team of setters setting up for the following day.

When: September 2nd (9:00- 23:00)

Where: FA – 10 Naaf street, Strydompark


Round 1 9:00-11:00

Round 2 11:00-13:00

Round 3 13:00-15:00

Re-set gym for finals 15:00-17:00

Quiz- 16:00-17:00


Finals 18:00- 19:30

Prize giving 20:00

Afterparty 20:30-12:00

Please arrive at least 15 min before your qualifying round to register and warm up. You are able to leave after your session and come back later if you like. This is not a onsight competition so you are allowed to walk through the gym before your session. There will be food and drinks available throughout the day. We would recommend to mark off your calendar and book the day for climbing and the night for partying. We would also encourage you to share rides or uber’s to the venue as drinking and driving is not lekker and the auction house next door makes parking a bit chaotic in the mornings

How Do You Enter?

We have tried to make this process as simple as possible. Everyone must enter individually.

Head on over to our events page and book your ticket. When booking your ticket select the time slot you would like to climb in. Make sure your tjom books the same time slot. Arrive together and check in. You will spend the session climbing together trying to climb as many problems as possible. Once your session is completed, fill in your scorecard on the FA app. Have your cleverly thought out team name ready (there are prizes for the best name). You will submit your score individually. Then you’re done. Your guys’ top 10 scoring problems will be added together to give your team an overall score.

Due to the chaos from last year, and the small space that we have we have limited the tickets to 50 teams. Unfortunately, if you do not pre book and there are no tickets left, you cannot compete. Please respect the people that are on top of their admin and learn a valuable lesson;)

The event is R250 per person. We have TIA shirts also on offer at R250.00

There are a lot of things that have to happen to make an event like this work. From advertising to sponsors, food and drinks. The staff army to help keep you guys in check 😉 and the abundance of setters from around the country to put on a unique event. What you are paying for is a climbing experience like no other and a day that will be hard to forget.

Community - at the Heart of FA

This event has become something we could never have anticipated. A truly organic and beautiful day shared by the community. Community has always been the main thing we strive for as a gym and fostering that community. The people are the best people we know and it is you that creates the ultimate climbing experience that Johannesburg has to offer. This event is the one where you will find your people. You will have a laugh, you will be hugged, you will be encouraged. This event will take you on a roller coaster of emotions that will ultimately pick you up. This event is for you, all you have to do is come on through.

Picture of Wesley Antonites

Wesley Antonites

Owner of Friends and Allies

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