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The best of 2015: what can you learn from this year’s most successful competitors

The best of 2015
The best of 2015

Bernardo Faria, Dominyka Obelenyte, Felipe Pena and Mackenzie Dern finished the year of 2015 as the standouts of the competition circuit.

Faria and Obelenyte shined at the 2015 Worlds with double-gold campaign after strong performances that allowed little chance for their opponents in each of their matches.

Pena and Mackenzie were the main names at the 2015 Worlds No-Gi when they won the black belt open class with dominant showings.

So, we sked ourselves what our readers can learn from such successful competitors. What were their secrets to beat their opponents and celebrate their titles in 2015? Here is what we found out.

Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern, 2015 black belt open class no-gi world champion
Mackenzie Dern, 2015 black belt open class no-gi world champion

Mackenzie was one of the most active competitors in the black belt division in 2015. He was present in all major events, Gi and No-Gi, throughout the year. Despite the busy routine, she was able to keep a high-level performance and achieve great results, including her first ADCC gold medal and also the open class division at the Worlds No-Gi. She told GRCIEMAG what her secret was: “To compete trains your mind and your body. I think that’s why I am able to control my adrenaline so well at major tournaments. I have gone through the process so many times; the weight cut, the anticipation, testing myself against so many different people. In the end, I just love to compete and it will be hard for me to stop anytime soon!”

Felipe Pena

Felipe Pena at the 2015 Worlds No-Gi
Felipe Pena at the 2015 Worlds No-Gi

With seven submissions in eight matches, Felipe pena was on fire at the 2015 Worlds No-Gi. He also made all the way to the final at the 99kg division of the ADCC, losing in a tough match to Rodolfo Vieira. Pena also talked to GRACIEMAG about the ways he is able to achieve great results. It has a lot to do with not settling with what is confortable and accepting new challenges. “I didn’t like to train no-gi at all. When I won the Brazilian trials for the 2015 ADCC, I was forced to dive into no-gi Jiu-Jitsu and my game started to change. With the gi, I depend a lot on the grips. Nowadays, I can honestly say I like to train no-gi as much as I like to train with the kimono.”

Dominyka Obelenyte

Dominyka at the 2015 Worlds
Dominyka at the 2015 Worlds

The Lithuanian 19-year-old shocked the Jiu-Jitsu world with a virtually flawless performance at the sports biggest stage last June, at the 2015 Worlds. Dominyka became the youngest black belt, male or female, to with the open class division and she thinks that the key was to have a very balanced game and just hanging on to it. “I think the golden rule of Jiu-Jitsu is not to have the most muscles, the most developed berimbolo, the strictest diet, or the best cardio, but to just persevere until things get easier. As I have said before, there were many times when I was younger when I wanted to quit. When this sport just seemed so overwhelming and made me feel like an abnormal kid and teenager, but pushing through that pain and every tough situation I encountered along the way just made me stronger.”

Bernardo Faria

Bernardo Faria at the 2015 Worlds
Bernardo Faria at the 2015 Worlds

Bernardo’s moment finally came in 2015. With four gold medals in the two most important events of the year, Pan and Worlds, he wrote his name in Jiu-Jitsu’s history. Many times said to have a one-dimension game that relies too much on the half guard, Bernardo proved without any shadow of a doubt that his game is more than qualified to make him one of the greatest of all times. Here’s the lesson he left us all: “I would advise him to keep an open mind and try to learn it all. Even if you don’t use that position too much at the competitions, it’s useful to know it so you can defend it well. So, my advise is to try to learn as much as you can, but be smart about it and find out which ones work for you and which ones don’t.”

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