The Jiu Jitsu team had been training hard for months in preparation for the Pan Ams, one of the largest and most prestigious jiu jitsu tournaments in the world. Every year, the tournament is held in Florida, and the team was excited to compete against some of the best athletes in their respective divisions.
A total of 8 competitors showed up to represent Team Casarez – Bryan B, Gabbi, Riya, Milo, Catherine, James, Loui, and David. The matches were spread out over a span of 4 days.
Catherine competed first and lost in the first round to a refs decision. Milo went next and lost the first round to points, after coming off a brutal stomach bug and not feeling his best. Gabbi had a very exciting and close match against the champion of her division. She had several attacks, was very aggressive, and threatened her opponents with submissions and sweeps. Ultimately, she lost by one advantage. Riya and Loui also had great matches, but ultimately lost by points. James competed in his first ever Pan Ams and lost to an ankle lock.
Needless to say, after intense training, studying, and lots of preparation, it was a tough week for the team.
Then, along comes David Z.
He was the last of the team to compete. This was his first ever Pan Ams tournament and only his second IBJJF tournament. He wanted to challenge himself, and this was a great opportunity to do so. His division was stacked, and he would have to win 4 matches to claim the gold.
David’s technique and control of his opponents was unmatched. He secured win after win, building the morale and excitement of the team as he went. He showed incredible tenacity and mental strength as he worked his way through the bracket. He won every one of his matches without a single point being scored against him. By the time he made it to the finals, the team was ecstatic cheering for him – they had been waiting all week to cheer loud and proud! He won his finals match, and secured the title of IBJJF Blue Belt Master 2 Ultra Heavy Pan Am Champion!
We’re very proud of him for a lot of reasons. This was his first month as a blue belt and he made quite the statement. He has also started living a healthier life style and gave up drinking recently. We’re proud of him for not only winning on the mat, but winning off the mat. He’s a champion father, husband, and student, and a great example to the rest of the team.
David Z is Team Casarez’ first Pan American Champion, and we are excited to continue watching him compete in the future.
The rest of the team is learning and growing from their performances, and ready to refine their game and strategies for the nex competition. Looking ahead, we have students already registered for Charleston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Nashville. We also have local tournaments, such as Newbreed on April 29 in Charlotte, where we will take a team.
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