It’s a tremendous experience to compete in an event like All Americas. For many athletes, it’s where they put into action all the lessons and techniques learned in their daily practice and challenge themselves to get better results and fights. From kids to adults, what people present at Cerritos College could see was the great organization of the event, less noticeable, but equally important to its success, were the amazing narratives behind each battle.
Beautiful stories like the one from Fernando Arreola. Owner and coach of Ferny Jiu-Jitsu, he dominated the Kids Division, both Gi and No Gi, for the 4th time in NABJJF competitions. A story that he’s very proud about, sharing the reason for his success. “Well, I don’t look at my students as just students, I look at them as my own kids and treat them like my own. I personally get to know each one individually and personally. I keep records of all their birthdays and tournaments. Discipline and respect, its a big thing at Ferny Jiu-Jitsu”, he concluded.
The same elements of discipline and respect brought Robert Martinez to the black belt adults' division and helped him to have a noteworthy participation at the 2018 All Americas. After winning his first match 29-2, his next challenge was Sean Roberts, the 2015 SJJIF World Weight & Open Weight black belt champion. To fight against an experienced black belt was exactly what Martinez wanted in his first competition as a newly awarded black belt. The result wasn’t the best, but he will never forget that battle.
“Once they called us up I knew in my head I had to put on a show. I had so many people in my corner cheering me on, it felt almost like a super fight. We shook hands and it was on! It was a very close match between us, I had some good toe hold attempts where I thought he might tap within the first 2 minutes, but he fought out of them. When he attempted to pass my guard I shut him down with my flexibility and guard retention. The score was tied 2-2. We ended up going into overtime. I fell short towards the end, he caught me with a sweep while I was passing his half guard. Overall, it was a great experience rolling with a veteran like Sean Roberts. Can’t wait to get back in there and take on more high-level competitors.”
Emotional moments like this didn’t only happen in the men’s division. Among the women a fierce competition took place and great battles materialized in the arena. A perfect example, Christy Malta’s fight, a purple belt Master competitor from Alliance. In her second tournament as a purple belt her first opponent got disqualified and she moved to the finals, yet she did not have the outcome she hoped for.
Although she engaged in an intense fight, she did not take the victory she sought. “I didn’t go into this tournament ready do fight. I got off to a bad start with a bad guard pull. She took advantage and smashed my face into the mat. It was the first time I’ve ever bled in a tournament. Next time, if I fight her again, I will be more prepared.” Malta’s resolve to return more prepared to the competition mat is an attitude widely respected and understood in the BJJ community of competitors.
It is these narratives, the individual stories of triumph, defeat, persistence, and growth that truly make the sport and its athletes amazing.
Check out the 2018 NABJJF All Americas Individual Results