James Craig Selby (who goes by Craig) is 47 years young and a purple belt from Gracie Barra Costa Mesa. He’s been at the rank for one year and started doing Jiu-Jitsu when he was 41.
At the Las Vegas Open, Craig had one match in the middleweight division, against Rickson Gracie rep Fernando Flores, and won. He got the sweep after pulling guard, then went to side-control. From an arm attack on Fernando he moved to mount. “He rolled over and I ended up in side-control again as time ran out, finishing with a 12-0 victory,” Craig says.
There was a “round robin” for Craig’s open class division. He won his first match on points with 14-0. In the final he faced Frank Miranda of University of Jiu-Jitsu under Saulo Ribeiro. “I was ahead 4-2 and got a triangle choke from the back and won the final by submission,” a jubilant Craig says. That made him a double gold winner for the day.
The closest Craig had come to winning double gold before was getting double bronze at the Pan as a blue belt in 2010. “Before this double gold win, the best thing I’ve done in Jiu-Jitsu was as a blue belt,” Craig says, “I won silver at the 2007 No-Gi Master and Senior Championship, silver at the 2009 Gi and No-Gi American Nationals, and silver at the Gracie So Cal Classic in 2008.”
Craig says one of the hurdles he faces, as an older Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, is making sure he doesn’t over train and injure himself. He has some great advice for those who are getting up there in years. “There are three things that we old guys have to do to keep in good condition,” he says, “We need to work on our balance, keep our muscles flexible, and use our minds to keep them working. Jui-Jitsu has all these things and many more benefits that I could go on all day about.”
Craig says he believes that he made a great decision when he started training at 41 years of age. “I don’t see myself stopping until I am six feet under,” he jokes, “Even then, I will be able to roll with the best guys who are no longer with us.”
Craig would like to thank his professor Mike Buckles from Gracie Barra Costa Mesa and all his training partners, who have become his family in Jiu-Jitsu.
Craig’s opponent in the finals, Frank Miranda, who’s only been a purple belt for about 9 months, has his own reasons to be happy. “I’m 53 years old, and I started training six years ago,” he says, “I won the lightweight division by default and took second in the open. In every tournament I’m always the smallest in the open class.”
Frank was thrilled with his performance at the Las Vegas Open. “One of the main reasons I compete is to prove to myself that I still can,” he says, “At my age I’ll never be as strong, fast or flexible as the younger guys, and that’s OK, but I want to be as strong, fast and flexible as I can possibly be. That’s why I love Jiu Jitsu and its life style, which is nutrition for the body, mind and soul.”
As the saying goes, “Old guys rule!”