Gracie Barra recently held their Compnet 11 tournament in Irvine, California, and they added a twist to it this time around, with the welcome addition of the Pro Division that paid out money to their gold medal purple and brown belt winners.
Marco Joca, who’s assisted in the organization of Compnet tournaments since their very first event, said it was important for Gracie Barra to have more upper belts at the tournament. He and his GB Association team, Marcio Feitosa and Flavio Almeida, understand the commitment required to develop a high level of skill in Jiu-Jitsu and to put on a great show for the crowd. There isn’t much money in Gi competitions, but Gracie Barra is trying to improve that. “Now, with the Compnet Pro Divisions, we can contribute to the future of Gi competitions in order to see high level athletes being properly rewarded. It’s a test still, and might change as we move forward, but it’s worth saying that GB’s main goal is to bring the BJJ lifestyle to everyone and to keep contributing to the technical development of our art,” Marco says.
So, many upper-level belts registered for and competed in the event, and the usual suspects rose to the top of the heap. It was brown belt middleweight world champion Lucas Rocha of GB America (Irvine) who took top honors for the day, winning a gold medal and claiming $250 in prize money. He had one match and said it was a fun one. He locked in a triangle and got the armbar, sealing the deal. Lucas was happy to compete in the tournament and win some money. “The money is always welcome,” he smiles, “I think more competitors will sign up in the future because of it.”
Lucas says he’s been “working like a dog” lately, and trying to train as much as he can to prepare for the No-Gi Worlds. His last tournament was the Gi Worlds, which he lost, but he is taking precautions against that this time around. “Every time I’ve lost a tournament I’ve been at middle heavy,” he says, “So, I’ve been losing weight to stay at middleweight. I’m faster at that weight and feeling much better. I’ve been training as much as I can.” He says it wasn’t a mistake to go to medium heavyweight, because he learned from it, but he feels like his game is coming back to him and that he can win at middleweight now. “This is where I belong,” he says, “I won’t change again.”
Lucas, who teaches at both GB Whittier and GB San Clemente, says it’s not easy combining his teaching and training responsibilities, and because of his busy schedule, he’s not sure where he truly stands competition-wise but he’s giving it all he’s got. “I can’t see if I’m really ready,” he says, referring to the No-Gi Worlds, “I’m tired after training… I can feel my cardio… I can see I’m good all the time, but I don’t know if I’m tired from my working and teaching or if it’s really just from my training. I have a wait-and-see attitude but I feel really positive.”
The last time Lucas won the No-Gi Worlds was as a purple belt in 2009, and he wants to win again this year. He’s been a brown belt for about a year and a half and he feels like he’s finding his flow again. He’s been watching videos from the last ADCC and conjuring up new strategies and plans for the 2011 No-Gi Worlds. “I’m changing my game,” he says, “I really like No-Gi. I’m getting different ideas. I have plans and strategies. I’m feeling very comfortable.”
Lucas has quite an impressive record: he won the Gi Worlds as a juvenile blue belt and adult blue belt and both the Gi and No Gi Worlds as a purple belt. He feels pressure to win again as a brown belt. “I must win as a brown belt,” he says, “It’s been hard on me lately, but now I’m back and ready to win. I feel positive.” Sadly, Lucas lost his grandfather about a month ago and he would like to dedicate his performance at the No-Gi Worlds to him.
Another brown belt to win $250 and a gold medal was Rodrigo Augusto of GB Long Beach. Like Lucas, Rodrigo is a constant on the tournament scene. Also like Lucas, he has a heavy load of teaching responsibilities and then works his Jiu-Jitsu training schedule around it. Originally, Rodrigo came to the Compnet 11 to coach his kids from GB Long Beach who came to compete. “I was happier to see them winning than I was thinking about me competing,” he says.
But he knew it would be a great experience for him to compete against the GB people and friends he knows, so he was up for the challenge. “That’s the great difference with this tournament,” he says, “At the other competitions, you fight against people you don’t know, but here you’re on the mats with your friends. It’s a really good experience.”
Rodrigo, who competes as a lightweight, had one match for the day. “I fought against Jake from BudoVideos,” he says, “It was a nice fight. I had a solid game with him. I had a lot of fun competing against him.” Rodrigo was able to pull out the win, making him a gold-medal winner and $250 richer for the day.
Rodrigo says the money is a good motivator and will help pay for him to register at the upcoming No-Gi Worlds. “I still need to register for the No-Gi Worlds,” he says, “Training can be expensive. You have to pay for tournaments, buy supplements, pay for training… the money helps with all of that.”
But Rodrigo adds that he would recommend to the other higher belts within GB to come and compete at a GB Compnet event next time for a variety of reasons, not just the money. “It’s a safe environment; no one gets hurt,” he says, “You look around and see all the professors from every school here. After your matches you can go up to them right away and get tips from them. You can even learn new techniques from the other guys you’re competing against. It really helps prepare you for the big tournaments.”
Purple belt Magid Hage of GB Escondido came to the tournament and put on his usual show for the crowd, albeit a quick one. Magid, who is now just 18 years old, has been a purple belt for one year. At GB Compnet 11 he had one match, which he closed out with a baseball choke in under one minute.
As fellow GB competitors stood mat-side watching, murmurings of “his grips are unbelievable” and “he’s got vice-grips” could be heard all around. His opponent, clearly dazed by the strength of the choke that almost put him out, sat on the sidelines blinking and then suddenly yelled out, “He’s got grips like iron!” Magid just smiled and then got on the mats to show everyone how he got his grips in so tight. Everyone gathered around for a quick lesson.
Magid’s next tournament is the No-Gi Worlds. And just like a teenager, he hasn’t thought too much about it or put too much emphasis on it – he’s just gonna do it. “I don’t train in No-Gi,” he says, “but I’m going to give it a shot. I don’t even really like it to be honest, but I did a No-Gi tournament once and I won it.”
This light-hearted, confident attitude about Jiu-Jitsu is well earned. Jiu-Jitsu is not new to Magid, whose father is GB black belt Magid Hage Sr., the owner of GB Escondido. Magid was raised on it and wants to make it his life as well. He started teaching classes at 12 years old, and competing as an adult at the age of 16 because there were no good juvenile tournaments at which for him to compete. These days, like other GB athletes, Magid teaches both kids and adults classes at GB Escondido. He also goes to college, has a part time job outside of GB, and fits his training regime around it all.
Magid’s ultimate goals are to have a beautiful Jiu-Jitsu school by the beach and to be a world champion black belt one day. “World champion black belt is my dream,” he says, “Winning my division and the open at the same Worlds… that would be amazing. And I want to tap everyone out with a baseball choke at the Pan or Worlds.”