On Saturday, November 15th, the Crazy 88 Kids competition team took the mats at the Benfield Sportscenter. Coach Timmy, Coach Aung La, and Coach Vannessa arrived at the venue at around 8:30am with breakfast in hand and were immediately greeted by competition veterans Braeden Wilson and Josh Armstrong. Armstrong was recently the tenth person from Crazy 88 to be promoted to the rank of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu yellow belt and was excited to debut. After weigh-ins, a brisk warm up, and a last minute pep talk from Coach Timmy, everyone sat by the mats and patiently waited for their names to be called.
First up in the gi were ninja turtles Braeden “Leonardo” Wilson and Ronin “Michael-Angelo” Santamarina. Santamarina was able to fight hard and stay strong through a match that lasted over 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the ninja turtles were not able to secure wins, but they shook hands with their opponents and calmly left the mats to get ready for their next matches. Meanwhile, fellow ninja turtle, Devin “Donatello” Riley was able to submit all three of his opponents in less than 90 seconds. His exemplary performance caused him to finish his six-man intermediate division in 1st place.
Right after that, Crazy 88 teens Gavin Dixon, Jana Tumaneng, and Angelo Levon were up. Gavin Dixon has been training with the teens at only 11 years old. His matches did not go the way he wanted them to, but he has definitely enjoyed the experience of competing regularly and is ready to learn from his mistakes.
Jana, Crazy 88’s ninth yellow belt, embraced her first tournament and fought in a very close match to get second place. The third teen in attendance was Angelo Levon, a teen from Crazy 88 in Owings Mills who has been training with adults. He proved his dominance on the mats and put himself on the top of the podium.
Next was Josh, Josh fought in the advanced division and was able to pull off third place after two tough matches.
Last in the gi were Joey Curry and the Davies sisters, Jaydah and Rihanna. They eagerly ran onto the mats after a long wait and did what they had been training to do. Jaydah, the younger of the two sisters, submitted all of her opponents quickly to get 1st place. Joey and Rihanna did very well also, both winning third place, Rihanna in intermediate and Joey in beginner.
Now it was time for no-gi to start, and it started fast. Ronan was called to fight back-to-back in his division with Braeden to land them both on the podium at third place, together. Since Devin Riley was still on fire from his last three wins, he was able to get another win in no-gi, but then lost the next one for second place to end the day 4-1. It was a great day for little ninja blue belt Devin as he was recovering from his previous tournament losses.
Angelo Levon also went almost undefeated for the day. In his no-gi division, Angelo’s ability to quickly fix his mistakes and adapt to his opponents game put him in top of the podium yet again.
Next up were first time brazilian jiu jitsu competitors Alex and Seth Pearl. They only participated in the no-gi divisions, but their wrestling backgrounds helped them out tremendously. During Seth Pearl’s match, his mother clutched Coach Vannessa’s sweater sleeve in anxiety as her son took the mat for the first time. After two impressive wins and one loss, Seth Pearl took the podium at third place to smile for his proud mother and her camera.
Right after, Coach Vannessa ran to Jaydah’s mat while Coach Timmy ran to Rihanna’s mat and Coach Aung La ran to Alex’s mat. Jaydah fought hard with all the energy she had left. After a long match from the feet, an accidental poke in the eye, and a clean rear naked choke, Jaydah and her sister, Rihanna, were both called to the podium to collect their last medals of the day, bronze. Nearby, Alex Pearl and Joey Curry fought each other in the finals after taking over their no-gi division to close it out together. Last up were Josh and Gavin, who fought the same people they fought in gi division to get third place (Josh) and second place (Gavin).
At the end of the day, the kids had a pretty fun day of running around, cheering on their teammates, and competing. The kids have been working hard for months and they proved it out there on the mats. Even though some won and some lost, all of the kids did a great job and are very brave to have competed in the first place. They have all improved in more ways than one and are continuing to grow as young martial artists.