As most people know, the “Super Bowl” is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the premier association of professional American football. It was first played on January 15, 1967, as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and its then-rival league, the American Football League. It was agreed that the two leagues’ champion teams would play in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game until the merger was consummated in 1970. After the merger, each league became a “conference”, and the game was then played between conference champions. Super Bowl I was played in 1967 to determine the championship of the regular season played in 1966, and the last super bowl, Super Bowl XLIV was played on February 7, 2010, to determine the champion of the 2009 regular season. It would be hard to imagine anyone born within these years in the United States that has not at least watched one Super-Bowl game, if not all. In fact, the day on which the Super Bowl is played is now considered a de facto American national holiday. “What are we doing for Super bowl Sunday,” is a question I have asked, or been asked, since I can remember being old enough have independent thoughts. It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving, and a day when there is enough beer consumed in the United States to fill every swimming pool in the west coast.
Now, imagine you played amateur or even semi-pro football, or to make matters even more realistic, were simply an enormous fan of the sport and practiced three times a week with other semi-pro football players in attempt to hone your skills. Imagine further, that you got a phone call RIGHT NOW from your coach and he informed you that you could, if you chose, attend Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Your coach explains that, “for the price of the ticket to Texas, a rental car fee, a hotel, and a $60.00 ‘spectator’ fee you can get a front row seat and watch as the world’s greatest NFL athletes collide in the famous venue, on the famous field, whereby you could watch history in the making.”
I would imagine that seconds after said call you would go to your calendar and pencil off those days – and as you have one-years notice you would save the money it would require to pay the nominal fee to get yourself to and around Texas for the event. The excitement would build in you, you would tell everyone you know, you would count down the days until the big-event, you would probably lose sleep thinking about the big day, as the anticipation of being part of history would slow the time clock in your mind.
Lets up the ante a bit, and take this visualization exercise a step further:
Before getting off the phone with you, your coach adds, “by the way, if you do all that is necessary to perfect your skills, and play and win as many local games as possible, you can play at the next Superbowl, in Texas, on the same field as the greatest in the game, immediately before the main event, where you will be matched with other players/teams at your skill level, and you will have the chance to also become a Super Bowl Champion” – – “with all the prestige and pride attached, and even the famed gold championship ring.” “You have the chance to be and NFL Super-Bowl Champion!”
I have a feeling that anyone who is a real fan of football would immediately plan to go as a spectator, and anyone who is real fan of playing football, after they regained consciousness from passing out during the initial conversation, would begin the training required to prepare for and accept this colossal challenge.
The World Championship of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (also knows as the Mundials) is the Super Bowl of Brazilian JiuJitsu. It is the most prestigious Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the world. The Mundials are hosted annually by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). It is held in an historical venue, on historical mats, and competing are without a doubt historical figures and historical teams. The first Mundial tournament to be held outside of Brazil was in 2007 at the California State University in Long Beach, California. This trend continued with the 2008 Mundials, once again in Long Beach in 2009, and this year as well. The first World Championship was held in 1996 at the Tijuca Tênis Clube (still the location of the Brazilian Nationals) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and has since grown tremendously, with over 2000 competitors (including 250 foreign athletes) fighting before a crowd of over 4,000 spectators.
My hope is that this article will serve to put everyone on notice that the opportunity exists to be, at a minimum, a spectator of the Super Bowl of BJJ and supporter of the competitors at the Mundals 2011. More importantly, if you accept the challenge, to encourage you to fight alongside the sport’s elite athletes, your teammates, and the creators, innovators, and supporters of our beloved sport – to put you on notice that you can make history!
I accepted this challenge in 2010 after my coach, mentor, and friend, Julius Park asked me to confirm and memorialize my personal goals for 2010 (I believe this was a request made for the entire Crazy 88 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team). Realizing that the opportunity, as described above, was something I simply could not pass up, I wrote Julius a letter listing “winning at least 1 International IBJJF medal” and “attending the ‘Worlds’ as a representative of the team” as two of my prime goals:
I shall do my best to recount the experience, which for me was life changing…