Five Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors from Whitehorse put on an impressive display in Calgary at the Alberta Provincial Open Championship from May 12 to 13.
All five athletes finished on the podium with one gold, one silver and three bronzes.
Aliyah Fortier, a white belt competing in the 13- to 15-year-old female 146 to 155 pound division, earned gold after winning both her matches — one via armbar and one via points.
Instructor Dan Hombert said he was impressed by her composure, particularly when she was in bad positions. For someone so young to be so calm under pressure is something he said stood out.
Hombert, competing in the brown belt heavy 30 and above male division, earned a silver after splitting his two matches.
His victory was via armbar at 1:13 after his opponent tried to pull away from a triangle chokehold.
Ashley Denisoff competed in the white belt heavy adult female division, finishing with a record of one win and two losses.
Her win came on points in her third match after she and her opponent reached the five-minute time limit.
Coach Bobby Woodman in the blue belt middle adult male division finished third after a submission loss following a bye into the semifinals.
White belt James Fortier finished third in the heavy adult male division after losing by submission in his only match.
It was the first time most of the athletes from Elite Martial Arts Academy competed in a tournament, so Hombert said the way everyone stayed calm and composed in their matches was noteworthy.
There’s a big difference between training in the gym and being in a competitive match, he said. Gym sessions are usually at 70 to 80 per cent effort, don’t have the flood of adrenaline competition brings and don’t focus on points.
“We’re being mindful of points, obviously, but we’re not keeping track of score,” said Hombert. “The only way to really lose in the gym is by submission, whereas at a tournament you can lose on points. That gives it just that little bit more sense of urgency because you can actually be down on points.”
Points in jiu-jitsu are awarded for things like takedowns and advancing position, meaning things like passing the guard — getting around the opponent’s legs — or maintaining side control or a mount position.
The scoring system makes it easier for the athlete on top to score points, but Hombert explained some competitors prefer to operate from the bottom.
“Against someone that is physically stronger … it might be hard to get a takedown,” said Hombert. “So [you] might just prefer to go to the guard where [you] can just attack right away.”
That strategy eliminates the possible bad position a grappler could end up in if he or she is taken down by the opponent.
Hombert said most people settle on favouring one position over the other.
“The goal is for everyone to be well rounded in everything,” said Hombert. “[But] when you’re developing your game, usually someone will take a liking to one or the other a little bit more.”
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