Eleven Brazilian jiu-jitsu players from Whitehorse were at the 2019 Alaska State No-Gi Submission Grappling Championships on Nov. 2 in Anchorage, Alaska.
The group trains at Elite Martial Arts Academy in Marwell and brought back six medals — an improvement over last year’s total.
Bobby Woodman, an instructor at Elite, said he was impressed with how the gym’s contingent did at the event.
“It went really well. Much better than last year,” said Woodman. “A lot more improvement. All in all, it was much more positive. The competition was really good too, but it was just really good all the way around.”
Woodman and a number of others in the group had the benefit of seeing the competition last year and being able to prepare for the level and style of competition they’d be seeing this year.
That experience coupled with overall general improvement led to the increased medal count and success.
“We had some newer people that didn’t compete (last year) compete this year,” said Woodman. “A couple of us already kind of knew going into it (what to expect). I think everybody learned a lot.”
On the mats, the six medals were split between five of the 11 jiu-jitsu players.
Woodman won silver in the men’s advanced 176-pound (80-kilogram) division and instructor Dan Hombert won silver in the men’s advanced 215-pound (98-kg) division as well as bronze in the men’s advanced absolute division.
Aliyah Fortier won bronze in the women’s advanced absolute division, James Fortier won bronze in the men’s intermediate 189-pound (85-kg) division, and Kyle Nightingale won bronze in the men’s intermediate 149-pound (68-kg) division.
Woodman said one of Nightingale’s matches stood out as a highlight.
“Kyle did a fireman’s carry, which he has maybe attempted twice in the gym here, and he just committed to it and threw (his opponent) over his head,” said Woodman. “It was beautiful. He ended up wining that match. That was a major highlight for me – seeing that happen and him being able to pull out the win.”
Watching his students compete is something Woodman said is his favourite part of going to these competitions.
“That’s the best part. I like that more than competing,” said Woodman. “Just watching them display all that we’re teaching and be able to pull it off successfully — win and dominate and have good positions and not freak out. Their maturity has come so far in just a year. … I love watching everybody grow and perform.”
This year’s championships were held at the Alaska Airlines Center, as the high school usually used for the event was damaged in an earthquake.
“(It’s) a beautiful space. That’s where they have their pro fights – (the Alaska Fighting Championship),” said Woodman. “It was a really nice setup; it was really well-run again.”
Getting to Anchorage from Whitehorse can be a challenge, and this trip had a couple of unexpected detours.
The car Woodman was travelling in was delayed after a rock from a road resurfacing truck punctured a tire, and the Fortier car was stopped in Tok, Alaska, thanks to whiteout conditions.
Despite the delays, all 11 participants made it to the event in time to compete.
Woodman and company are looking ahead towards either the Alberta Open in Calgary or a return trip to Anchorage for the gi championships in the spring.
In the mean time, training continues.
Contact John Hopkins-hill at firstname.lastname@example.org