For the third time in the year 2015, Team Crazy 88 took the three hour drive to New York to compete. The team ventured through the heavy rain that was a warm up for the hurricane that was predicted to his the East Coast at any minute. Surprisingly, there was very little traffic and they made it safely to Northeast New Jersey where they stayed the night and rode out the rest of the storm.
The next morning, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle and temperatures were in the low 50s. Team Crazy 88 woke up bright and early and made their way to The City College of New York, where the tournament was scheduled to be held. The one day tournament was held on October 3rd and would arguably be considered the second toughest IBJJF No Gi tournament in the world, ranked just under the No Gi Worlds.
The day started off with Byung Ju Lee and Brandon Simms representing the Blue Belts. Byung Ju Lee submitted his first two opponents in 0:11 and 0:48 respectively with footlocks. In the quarterfinals, Lee lost on a takedown to a grappler from Zenith BJJ in Las Vegas. Lee had only this to say after the match, “죄송합니다.”
Brandon “Sleeper Cell” Simms was making his competition debut for Crazy 88 after moving to Maryland from Alaska. Simms displayed a wide-ranging set of abilities in his first match – takedowns, guard-passing, and sweeps. Tragically, he didn’t have much left in the gas tank for his second match and he ended up going 1-1 for the day.
Up at roughly noon, Chris “Short Round” Tran was on the hunt for his third No Gi Pan gold medal at the Purple Belt level. The first year, he pulled off close wins with scrappy matches, making it a tough journey to the top of the podium. Last year, his second year, he worked from the closed guard, constantly attacking submissions that he was unable to finish. This year, he was on the hunt for more points and submissions but from the TOP. No guard-pulling allowed.
In his first match, Tran faced an opponent from Gracie Barra. His opponent pulled guard quickly and after multiple knee cut attempts, Short Round began to pressure pass. Several minutes later, his opponent turned to turtle and Short Round took the back to score the only points of the match. The match ended with Tran on top of an arm triangle.
His second opponent would be from Unity Jiu-Jitsu. He also pulled and Short Round ended up on the top of half guard. After some trial and error, Short Round was able to get a deep under hook and knee cut pass three times back to back to score nine points. Then after a quick scramble Short Round cycled through kimuras and arm bars before taking the back for another four points. Then he transitioned to mount, failed an arm triangle, and then passed the guard for the fourth time to score seven more points. In the last seconds, Short Round attempted a mount triangle and finished the match rolling onto his back in an attempt to finish. With a dominant 20-0 win, Short Round advanced to the finals.
In the finals, Short Round carried his momentum by quickly opening the closed guard after his opponent jumped guard. After a single knee cut attempt, Short Round went right into his pressure passing system for about two minutes. Eventually, his opponent tried to lift him up, and Short Round reacted by snatching a quick kimura and went for an armbar. A forced scramble caused Short Round to end up back on to just in time for his opponent to turn into him. This gave him the opportunity to dive for another kimura and he was able to lock up a crucifix. His opponent was able to escape but Short Round transitioned to mount. They rolled out of bounds and his opponent was noticeably exhausted, so Short Round attacked. He took the back almost immediately but then fell off and went for another arm triangle. Again, it failed, but he was able to take the back twice more, went for one more kimura, and locked up an armbar for the finish with 20 seconds left.
Afterwards, Short Round jumped up to the podium to collect his third consecutive No Gi Pan gold medal. His performance showed a huge expansion in his guard passing game and his improvements made his team proud. Making the day even better, Mr. Tran (Chris and Cathy’s father) attended the tournament and was able to procure a press pass to take photos. It was the first Brazilian JiuJitsu competition he has seen his son compete in since Chris was in high school.