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“My dream is for people to understand that in the end Jiu-Jitsu is an art that helps people.”
- Carlos Gracie Jr.
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This past weekend I had the fortune to represent Northwest Jiu Jitsu (Team Ribiero) and compete in the US Nationals at California State Dominguez Hills. I flew to Los Angles with good friends and fellow competitors Zach Adamson (SBJJ/Lovato/Ribiero)) and Tom Oberhue (Five Rings/Ribiero) who all competed as part of Team Ribiero. This was to be my first competition on such a large stage. The vibe inside the venue is one that must be experienced to fully grasp, as you are engulfed in the spirit of Jiu Jitsu competition.
I was the first to compete on Saturday in the blue belt seniors 1 featherweight division. I was able to put on what I believe to be a strong display of good Jiu Jitsu, constantly pushing the pace and attempting numerous submissions and sweeps. Even though I fought hard, in the end my opponent was able to win on points by finally passing and securing a guard pass, I learned a great deal from the match and still secured a silver medal adding overall points for the team and had fun doing so. The thing that I am most proud of is that I was able to honor two academies by demonstrating techniques which I have obtained from each. I started the match by pulling guard and instantly going inverted side to side to stop a pass attempt and secure the closed guard, this is a technique I learned from Zach Adamson while training with him at the Seaside academy. Once in closed guard I worked numerous submission attempts using “hand position #2”, which I learned from Tom Oberhue training at Five Rings Academy. I was able to work a half guard transition to Z guard nearly landing the sweep, a technique that Zach taught me and I have been using in my game for some time now. I was able to use a cross sides guard recovery that Tom taught to frustrate my opponent, keep him from passing and recover the closed guard. Looking over the video of my match I can see how my training at both Seaside BJJ and Five Rings BJJ prepared me for a stage like the US Nationals.
Zach, Tom and James Popoulo (Lovato Oregon/Ribiero) all competed on Sunday. Zach was first to go in the adult purple lightweight division. Zach had the most stacked division of all of us and did an amazing job fighting his way to the finals, securing a silver medal. Zach tore through the first three competitors, controlling the pace and direction of every fight. I learned a great deal watching Zach fight, his top pressure was astounding and wore his competition down. Even though Zach was always up by a large margin in points he finished his fights with a clean submission via a choke. Zach faced a very strong competitor in the finals and they were tied 2-2 with one advantage each when they fell into a 50/50. Zach fought hard to gain the dominating position of this frustrating and neutral position, and just as the final seconds ticked away his opponent was able to come up on top and secure the 2 points for a sweep.
Zach went on the enter the absolute division and again fought very hard for himself and Team Ribiero, securing a bronze medal. Zach started the open class going against a much larger and heavier opponent. Zach controlled the fight and pushed the pace racking up points, with seconds left Zach sent a message to the entire open division by submitting the much larger opponent with a bow and arrow choke, letting them know he will not go easily. Zach continued to submit the opposition all the way into the semi finals where he finished with a bronze medal.
James Popoulo, our friend from Salem Oregon, fellow training partner and teammate from Team Lovato/Ribiero dominated the brown belt adult division. James won the gold medal in both his weight division and the absolute. James performance at the US Nationals and a write up about him can be found on Graciemag.com. James is a phenomenal competitor, amazing friend, training partner and asset to our Oregon group.
Tom Oberhue from Portland Oregon, black belt owner and operator of Five Rings Jiu Jitsu put on a marathon of a weekend. Tom not only competed in black belt seniors 1 division and black belt seniors 1 open division, wining a silver medal in each, but he also was an IBJJF referee during the event both days. Tom always made sure that he took his breaks from refereeing so that he could help coach and video tape mine and Zach’s matches, his enthusiasm and stamina is off the charts. Tom used his strong side control and mount techniques to win his first match 16-2. Tom continued on winning until the finals where he fought hard and finished with the silver. Tom had to referee a few more hours before entering the absolute, where he faced the same opponent in the finals and again fought hard securing another silver medal for the team.
It was an amazing time competing at such a large tournament and having the privilege to be part of the Ribiero Team. The four of us from Oregon all won medals returning with a combined total of 7. Not only were we able to return to our home academies with some bling we also helped contribute to the overall points of Team Ribiero, which returned to San Diego with the third place team title trophy. But more important than any medals or trophies we solidified friendships and made new ones, we showed the Jiu Jitsu community that Oregon is relevant and we are going to bring good, tough jiu jitsu to the competition scene. Keeps your eyes and ears posted as Seaside BJJ, Five Rings BJJ and Lovato Salem come together to represent our academies and the Ribiero/Lovato organization as whole in future northwest tournaments.
Aaron Sparling- Seaside Jiu Jitsu Academy Blue Belt