The Brazilian Nationals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of the biggest tournaments in the world. It is also known as THE toughest tournament for the lower belts (blue, purple, and brown) since the locals in Brazil cannot afford to fly out to California for the World Championships. Knowing all this, I was preparing myself for some very tough fights.
My very first day in Brazil I was ready for anything, meaning that whether or not I liked it, I would still fight just as hard being that I was not there for vacation, but strictly to handle business. On the bright side, the weather was nice and the beach was beautiful, so most of the team decided to relax and get mentally and physically ready for the next day. To start off, we went to an open market with tons of fresh fruit and vegetables. This was perfect since most were either cutting weight or close and needed to watch what we eat. The people at the stands were literally hand feeding us these tasty, fresh fruit. After bringing these bags of fruit to the apartment, we went to the beach. We spent a few minutes lying in the sun before we went to the water. These waves in Rio were nothing like the ones in Ocean City, MD to say the least. We definitely got a little of exercise in the ocean. Later in the day it was time to get our drilling in. It is very important to go through your game plan before a big tournament. Fortunately, Ricardo Viera’s Check Mat gym was very close. Since most of their guys were competing in the tournament the next day, the class we went to was all drilling. We were able to even get a really good sweat in the gym with no air conditioning in addition to the hard drilling. To finish the day off we stopped and got some of the best Acai in Brazil on our way to get rest for the upcoming day.
The team headed to the venue early for our first up, Cathy T.Z. Cathy started the day off with an amazing 4 submission wins for the gold medal. From there on out, the team just took the momentum and ran with it. In the end, every Crazy 88 competition team fighter medaled. I was under weight and ready to go. For many, the bullpen can be very intimidating. This tournament, I did not let any of it get to my head and was only worried about one thing, finishing my next opponent. My first three fights were all submissions, triangle, armbar, and paintbrush. The last win meant a lot to me, since in the previous two big tournaments I had lost in the quarterfinals which is the round before the medal round. The difference between the past two quarterfinals and this one was how I handled myself from being nervous. This time I just accepted being nervous and did not let the thoughts get in between the win and myself. My semi- finals match was very close. The opponent was very strong and was hard to sweep after he had swept me in the beginning of the match. I lost 2-0 and finished 3rd in my division.
Up next was the absolute. I was entering with my other teammate, Al Washington, after he had received the silver medal in his division. My first match was against the same guy I had lost to in my division. I was ready to get my revenge. The match started very similar except for after he had swept me from the 50/50 guard, I had swept him back. The whole match I was pushing the pace and finished the match winning 4-2. I was very proud of my self, knowing that I could beat him and that I had just beat the guy who won my division.
The purple belts were able to get another day of rest after the blue belts fought, since the next day no one from the team was fighting. Team Lloyd Irvin had two purple belts fighting, both in the middle weight division. I always get very excited to see my brother compete. It was very fun to watch both my brother and Keenan steam roll through the entire middleweight division closing out the weight class. This division is always known as one of the toughest divisions at tournaments and having two Americans win it was very amazing.
The next day, we had heard from a local friend in the area that Team Lloyd Irvins amazing performance at the toughest tournament in the world was on the sports news. Overall, the trip to Brazil was very fun and beneficial to my jiu jitsu career. I was able to see a lot of famous jiu jitsu practitioners and the area of which some of the greatest have gown up in. I cannot wait until next year when I come back and get what I wanted, the gold medal. Until then, I will use this week to help me to my even bigger goal which is the worlds gold medal this upcoming May.