3 Takeaways from the Tap Cancer Out Tournament 2021

On September 11, we took 21 students to the Tap Cancer Out tournament. The event was full of exciting matches and team camaraderie. From the tournament, there are 3 clear takeaways that I want to discuss.

1. Fundamentals are Key!

The first takeaway is that I noticed that our students had a different particular style compared to the other competitors. Because we are under Lucas Lepri and Alliance, our students tended to play a more controlled game with a good, steady pace. For example, there were a lot of fundamentals, such as knee cut passing to side control to basic finishes. Our students played both open and closed guard. They also demonstrated knowledge of basic takedowns from our curriculum which focuses on basic judo and wrestling influenced techniques that are part of our style.

Out of the 21 students who competed from our school, 17 medaled. Out of those 17, 8 got gold. And out of the total competitors, only 1 was a full time competitor who happened to snag a gold. This means that the 16 students who competed and medaled are all hobbyists who train only a few times a week. They have families, full-time school or jobs, or businesses of their own. Their success further proved the system we practice is effective. This was a local tournament but it was still interesting to see this dynamic played out through statistical data.

I learned that our students who practice consistently even just a few times a week can still build the fundamental framework needed to do well in a jiu jitsu tournament. Afterall, fundamentals are key.

2. We Are Family

The second takeaway I noticed at the tournament was that our team relied on each other as family. Since many students were competing at one time, it was hard to coach every single one of them.

Students stepped up, and were able to help each other: from coaching to helping with warm ups to taking videos and pictures of the matches. Our school culture is very important to us as it displays lots of brotherhood and sisterhood that is supportive and encouraging, regardless of results.

Our head of our association, Lucas Lepri, always preaches “we never walk alone,” and this past Saturday was a great example of this. Win or lose, we fight together. And the incredible support from the family and friends radiated and showed us that we are not only a team; we are family.

3. Winning Isn’t Everything

Finally, the 3rd takeaway from the tournament is that this was a great learning experience for everyone. A lot of our students learned from their mistakes. Being humbled is undoubtedly one of the best things that can happen to a person. Everyone wants to win, but winning isn’t everything. As cliche as it sounds, you learn so much from losing. Our team was able to pick the pieces up and rebuild from any losses they experienced. Those who were defeated at the tournament were back on the mats the Monday following.

Where they go from here is really up to them. I am proud of them for all they did not only at the tournament but also the preparation that was involved. As I mentioned before, the majority of these students have full-time lives outside of jiu jitsu. Yet, they made time to prepare mentally and physically. Now, they all know what it feels like to compete. And they know what to change or continue as they move forward.

I’m also really grateful for even the students who didn’t compete because they were there helping out. If they weren’t, they were there in spirit with support. They also helped to prepare these competitors with training at the gym beforehand. In jiu-jitsu, the beautiful thing is you can’t get better by yourself. You lose as a team; you win as a team; you fight as a team.

 

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Jiu Jitsu Team Helps Competitors Win at FUJI Tournament

Referring to Jiu Jitsu as an individual sport is accurate to an extent. After all, it is one-on-one grappling and competing. However, Jiu Jitsu is more of a team sport than a lot of us realize, and this was explicitly clear when Team Casarez competed in the FUJI tournament on April 25 in our hometown of Cary, North Carolina. 

Jiu Jitsu Training Program

The weeks leading up to the tournament included extended rounds of rolling. Students who were not planning to compete contributed to the training of their teammates by pushing themselves during these 8-10 minute rounds. The entire gym, competitors and noncompetitors alike, stepped up the training intensity in preparation for the upcoming tournament. As tournament day approached, you could hear a lot of students asking their teammates about game plans, how they felt, offering advice, and encouragement. 

Grappling Family 

On the day of the tournament, teammates who were not competing took the time out of their weekend to show up and support their fellow students. 

Thank you to Lelani, Jenn, Carl, JD, Brian, Kyle, Aaron and Todd for cheering on the competitors. Jenn brought snacks, Carl recorded footage, and Aaron took the time to post live updates on the Facebook group and share results with the rest of the team who were asking for updates. The energy, encouragement, and support from these teammates helped energize the competitors as they made their way onto the mats. 

The Martial Arts Competitors

There were 14 total competitors from Team Casarez at this tournament: Riya, Caike, Ferny, Garrett, Milo, Christian, Mikhael, Adam, Troy, Mike, Sach, Catherine, Thryn, and Frank. For some of these competitors, it was their first time competing. Competition is highly encouraged because it pushes students to challenge themselves mentally and physically. We are so proud of all of these students for deciding to compete. Regardless of any outcomes, competition will always provide helpful insights and lessons into your game. By the end of the day, the students had earned 19 medals among them. 

 

Jiu Jitsu Competition Results

Riya and Caike represented Team Casarez in the youth division. It was Riya’s first tournament, and she demonstrated impressive composure and technique as she submitted some of her opponents. She even went up against boys in her division. Riya placed gold in both Gi and No Gi. It was also Caike’s first tournament and he placed silver and bronze in Gi, and double bronze in No Gi. Both of these students are young and have bright and impressive futures ahead of them. 

In the adult division, we had 12 competitors: 6 white belts, 4 blue belts, and 2 brown belts.

Of the white belts, Troy earned silver in Gi and No Gi and showcased excellent passing and technique. Catherine won gold in Gi and No Gi and had some impressive take- downs in her matches. Ferny, Milo, Mikhael, and Sach represented the blue belts. Ferny earned gold in the Gi and bronze in the No-Gi. He also had the fastest submission of the tournament with an ankle lock at 9 seconds. Milo also won gold in Gi and bronze in No-Gi. He went up to the advanced division in No-Gi where they allow leg locks and heel hooks. He is only 17 and wanted to challenge himself against the adults. Mikhael won gold in both of his divisions, Gi and No-Gi, and finished all of his opponents by submission. Sach competed in the Gi and won silver. This was  both Sach and Mikhael’s first tournament as blue belts. In the brown belt division, Mike won gold in the Gi and silver in the No-Gi. 

Martial Arts Lessons Gained

We are so proud of all the competitors who represented the team at this tournament. Competition is a great way to test your jiu jitsu in a high-pressure environment. It is also a great way to pinpoint where improvements can be made in your game. From this tournament, we have learned some essential lessons as a team. 

Three main takeaways I want our team to focus on from this tournament are improvements on tactics, mentality, and training volume. 

  • Tactically: we can improve by dedicating more training time to learning what a strategy is, how to build it, and how to execute it in the tournament. 
  • Mentality: we can all improve our mentalities by arriving more prepared for the tournament, whether that means eating well, drinking plenty of water, getting sufficient rest the night before, arriving early, properly warming up, and making sure that the mind is focused. All of this will result in more mental clarity and confidence as you approach the mat. 
  • Volume: If you are planning to compete, make sure that your training volume is increasing. If your schedule allows you to train only a handful of times a week, make the most out of those sessions by limiting breaks, extending rounds, and pushing yourself to roll with teammates who have been resting. All of this will make you feel more confident on the day of the tournament. 

 

Remember, Jiu-jitsu is a team sport. We win together, we lose together, we train together, and we are in this together. Great job to the whole team on the success at the FUJI tournament on April 25. Let’s get ready for the next one!