RIVERDALE, Ga. — Eleven Fort Benning Soldiers returned home with a total of 15 medals Saturday in the latest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament hosted by the North American Grappling Association at Charles R. Drew High School.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling or wrestling style of mixed martial arts and NAGA hosts tournaments three times a year in the Atlanta area. Saturday’s tournament consisted of about 1,000 participants from youth to adults.
Issac Henderson, who has been participating in NAGA tournaments for five years, said the performance of his fellow soldiers surpassed his expectations.
“For a lot of the white belts, it was their first time competing and they all got a medal,” Henderson said. “What you put in is what you’ll get out.”
Sebastian Malikia won a first-place medal in his first tournament outing, winning three consecutive matches in the No-Gi Novice Middleweight class. No-Gi means participants fight in appropriate shorts and shirt rather than a karate Gi, or robe.
“I just kept doing what my coaches kept telling me over and over again: position before submission,” Malikia said. “Because of that I was able to find myself in a better position to apply takedowns, chokes and better grasps of my opponents.”
Each match for Malikia lasted three minutes and the physical exhaustion surpassed Malikia’s expectations.
“Win or lose, I was going to give it my all, regardless of how much it hurt,” he said.Meanwhile, Teddra Rodriguez won a third-place medal in the Women’s Novice White Belt Lightweight class. Henderson said Rodriguez was outstanding for her first time competing in a NAGA tournament.
Henderson won second place in the No-Gi Master’s Intermediate Heavyweight and first place in the Gi Master’s Blue Belt Heavyweight. Henderson faced the same opponent in both medal matches. He lost the No-Gi match first but came back and defeated the opponent in the Gi match. Henderson said he prefers the Gi matches because it allows him to grab on to the fabric of his opponent’s robe.
“I was able to get him on the ground and maintain dominant position a lot better than I was able to in No-Gi,” Henderson said. “With the Gi I was able to grab and defend myself a little better. I was able to utilize my judo technique. Once I got him on the ground, he was in my ballpark.”
Some of the same Fort Benning Soldiers will be traveling to Irvine, Calif., March 24-27 to participate in the Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship, one of the largest international jiu-jitsu tournaments.
Results:Issac Henderson, No-Gi Master’s Intermediate Heavyweight, second place; Gi Master’s Blue Belt Heavyweight ,first place.
Jason Martin, No-Gi Master’s Advanced Middleweight, second place; Gi Master’s Purple Belt Middleweight, third place.
Ryan Wahler, No-Gi Master’s Begginer Cruiserweight, second place; Gi Master’s White Belt Cruiserweight, second place.
James Baxley, No-Gi Mater’s Novice Cruiserweight, second place.
Grant Shanaman, No-Gi Master’s Beginner Middleweight, first place.
Brandon Sayles, Gi Adults Blue Belt Super Heavyweight, first place.
Christopher Gordon, No-Gi Master’s Advanced Cruiserweight, first place; Gi Master’s Purple Belt Cruiserweight, first place.
Sebastian Malikia, No-Gi Novice Middleweight, first place.
Joshua Thorner, No-Gi Men’s Intermediate Cruiserweight, first place; Gi Men’s Blue Belt Cruiserweight, first place.
Jorge Giovannini, Gi Men’s Purple Belt Cruiserweight, second place.
Teddra Rodriguez, Gi Women’s Novice White Belt Lightweight, third place.