For the 5th weekend in a row, 88 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has had students competing. This time it was at the Abu Dhabi North American Trials. Amie Turton and Roberto Torralbas received invitations to the qualifier tournament for the Abu Dhabi tournament. The winners of this tournament get a spot at the international Abu Dhabi competition and a chance to compete alongside such greats as Marcelo Garcia, Jacare, and Leo Viera. The best No-Gi grapplers from Canada, California, New Mexico, and all of North America were there, fighting for this great opportunity.
Amie Turton competed in the under-55 kg category. In her first match, she faced Kanoka Inaba, PanAm silver medalist in the Brown/Black Belt division. Amie was able to use her dangerous closed guard to keep Inaba at bay. Unable or unwilling to pass, Inaba fell back for Amie’s foot and Amie followed her up but was not awarded points. Luckily, Amie scored an additional 3 points and entered the semi-finals.
Her semi-finals opponent was Yael Young from Toronto BJJ. Yael is a very tough competitor and has had a few battles with Amie in the past, with each of them splitting the wins so we knew this match would be no different. With a minute to go in the no-points period, Amie pulled Yael into her guard and was working aggressively. Amie locked on a TIGHT triangle. With about 90 seconds left, we thought the match was over – there was too much time in order to just “tough it out”. Amie was squeezing with all her might, transitioned briefly to the mount, and even locked on a tight armbar but Yael would just not submit! Finally, the bell rang, and Amie had to release the submission. Like their last few matches, this match was heading into OT!
In Overtime, Yael hit a quick takedown. Amie worked hard from bottom but was unable to get her 2 points back. This was another war in their competitive series and hopefully there will be another in the near future.
Roberto Torralbas jumped up to 88 kg category despite weighing 24 lbs. less than the weight limit. His opponent was Justin Garcia, 2005 Trials Finalist. Garcia is extremely explosive with powerful takedowns. We suspected that Garcia would not engage for the 1st half of the match since there was no points at that point. When points finally started, Roberto managed to stuff a few of Garcia’s shots and get a few of his own. On one of these attempts, Garcia attempted a guillotine and Roberto pulled Garcia into his guard. We thought that this would be a -1 point for Roberto but they gave Garcia 2 pts for a takedown. Roberto worked aggressively and Garcia disengaged, receiving a -1. The match ended 1-0 for Garcia.
It was great seeing such a high level grappling competition in the United States. To see guys like Xande, Marcelo Garcia, and Dean Lister at the tournament as spectators when our own teammates were on the mats was rewarding. Amie and Roberto are both very young (18 and 21 respectively) and to have competed in the toughest no-gi tournament that early will only help them in the future. Congrats to both!