Local grapplers were able to expand their horizons without leaving home last weekend as 400 athletes visited Penticton for the Western Canadian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
The sport sees combatants spar for up to five minutes using a variety of holds and take-downs to earn points or force a submission. It’s one of the disciplines favoured by mixed martial artists.
Erik Lund, instructor at Goes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Penticton, said the event, held Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre, was the biggest such tournament the city has even seen.
“I’ve been doing this sport since I was 16 … and to finally see the Western Canadians in Penticton is literally a dream come true for me,” he said.
Lund’s gym had eight athletes in the tournament, including Dustin Frostad, who won silver in super-heavyweight teen colour belt, gi and no gi.
In what was his third-ever tournament, but first at home in front of his friends and family, the 13-year-old worked to maintain his focus on his opponents and Lund, who shouted instructions throughout the matches.
“He was just telling me to get into positions if I slip up a little bit, or even just to help me through,” Frostad explained.
This was Frostad’s first time in the 13- to 15-year-old division, so he tried to keep his expectations in check.
“If I win, I win. If I don’t, I have two more years to make up for it,” he said.
The sport helps people learn to perform under extreme pressure, according to Lund.
“It helps them deal with, admittedly, a very stressful situation. It’s just them in there. It’s a sport, and it’s a team sport — we train together, we prepare together — but ultimately one guy goes out on the mat or one girl goes out on the mat by himself or herself,” he said.
Besides the tournament helping showcase the sport in Penticton, Lund said it was also good for his students, who got to grapple with previously unknown adversaries.
“I’ve seen some of my guys who normally don’t have any trouble at all with certain positions struggle a little bit because they’re seeing unfamiliar things for the first time, or maybe different styles that are popular elsewhere, and it does help us to grow,” he said.
“One of the big challenges in a small town trying to run a high-level program is there’s really not that cross-pollination and access to higher-level people.”
Other members of Goes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Penticton who took home medals were: Clay Davidson, silver in super-heavyweight, brown belt, no gi; Mason Poon, gold in light-featherweight, blue belt, no gi; Michael Poon, gold in juvenile featherweight, blue belt; Egzon Emini, three golds in medium-heavyweight, white belt, gi and no gi and no gi absolute; Stephanie Lund, gold in women’s lightweight, white belt; Tyler da Costa, two bronzes in featherweight, white belt gi and no gi.