February 14, 2011 – Yesterday concluded a very exciting day at the University of St. Thomas for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aficionados as advanced competitors within the purple to black belt divisions took their turn at center stage to showcase their skills in the IBJJF Houston International Open. The anticipation in the air was palpable as the day began. I overheard one of Saturday’s white belt competitors remark that “there are so many black belts around it is making my head spin.”
Based on the plethora of competitive matchups taking place in the advanced ranks, that poor kid’s head may have spun right off his shoulders.
Three teams stood above the rest when the day was done and final overall standings were computed.
Winning the overall team title by a comfortable margin for the second consecutive year at the IBJJF Open, Gracie Barra took the day with a very impressive team performance in all divisions. Many of their athletes performed well in contributing to the team goal. Alejandro Siqueira took the black belt master open class title. Also representing for GB at black belt were Bruno Rocha and Patrick Head, who took 2nd and 3rd respectively in the black belt lightweight division. At brown belt, they were led by Todd Moore who place second at heavyweight. Several other notable victories were turned in by others including: Joel Allen, Carlos Lopez, Alex Cisne, Kristin Sommer, Jeff Shulz, and many others.
“This is a vision turned to a reality. Gracie Barra Texas has been an investment of extraordinary effort by so many great leaders and members… and to take our team to victory such as this while maintaining our principles and focus on being a family, in the midst of our growth in Texas is something we feel so blessed and fortunate for,” said Chad Robichuax of Gracie Barra’s North Houston academies.
In second place, the Nova União team’s DFW-area academies turned out in droves in a united effort to compete at this tournament. With many of their best competitors in tow, they made the five-hour drive worth it in the form of a well-deserved silver medal in the team standings. Leading the way for Nova União were a pair of Daniels in Daniel Alvarez (2nd place – Black Belt Master Open Class) and Daniel “Jacare” Almeida (1st place – Black Belt Ultra Heavy, 3rd place – Black Belt Open Class).
Rounding out the team standings, Lovato Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu made the trek all the way from Oklahoma with the goal of turning in an impressive performance. With loud cheers from their crowd in the stands, they accomplished what they came to do despite the absence of their leader Rafael Lovato Jr, who is currently in Europe. Justin Rader performed admirably in competition as a fighter but also played double-duty as standing head coach. He was often seen carrying around a clipboard and yelling from the sidelines to urge on his teammates. Rader also led the team in taking first at black belt featherweight while Robert Harper, Travis Serna, Jesse Sunderman, and others did their part as well.
In individual action, many names beyond the ones from the three teams mentioned above impressed at the Houston Open. Diego Ferreira (Gracie Humaita) did very well, only losing to Alexander Ceconi (Rilion Gracie) in the finals of the open class. Jarrod Clontz (Solis Martial Arts) took home a gold medal at Middle Heavy in the Black Belt Masters. Taking home gold medals, JJ Holmes (Alliance) and Spencer Gilliam (Solis Martial Arts) impressed at brown belt along with a pair of Team ZTS-sponsored athletes in Drew Lockwood (Elite MMA) and Jason Soliz (SLMMA). Also, at purple belt, Rene Lopez (Drysdale BJJ), Clayton Sunshine Robinson (Triton Fight Center), Louie Rubalcava (Graci Humaita), and Evan Gidon (Lloyd Irvin) all showed very well.
Full Results can be found via the IBJJF website for all divisions.
Competition Videos from select matches can be found on my YouTube Channel. Make sure to SUBSCRIBE for future vids!
All in all, it was a very impressive weekend for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the IBJJF Houston International Open came to a close. As we wrap this up, I want to give my gratitude to the Masters and Women’s competitors, along with the White Belts, who I was not able to cover. I was doing my best with both video and camera but I was going at it alone and that one slice of pizza was simply not enough to give me enough energy. We’ll get you guys next time!
The IBJJF Houston International Open in Photos