ADCC Campaign 2013: Why JT Torres believes he deserves an invitation

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JT Torres works a single leg takedown on Augusto Tanquinho in the lightweight final of the 2012 No-gi Worlds. Photo: Ivan Trindade

Already an ADCC veteran, the 23-year-old Puerto Rican American is hoping to gain another spot in the prestigious event but this time in Beijing, China.

Jonathan ‘JT’ Thomas earned his black belt at the age of 20 and now trains under world champion Andre Galvao at his Atos HQ in San Diego, CA. JT has earned medals in both gi and no-gi which he hopes will convince the ADCC committee that he deserves another chance at ADCC gold.

We asked JT about his experience and skill level according to the standards of the ADCC committee:

GRACIEMAG: ADCC invites those who they believe have enough skill to make it to the final. What division would you be asking to enter and based on who is in that division already, what makes you believe that you can go all the way?

JT TORRES: I truly believe I can win the 77 kg ADCC division because I have gained a lot of experience these last few years as a black belt fighting and training with some of the best in the world. Along with that experience I still have the youth and hunger for victory on my side!

Have you been in ADCC before? What were your results? What has changed since the last time you were there?

Yes I fought the ADCC in 2011. I fought Clark Gracie first round and I defeated him via points. Second round I fought one of my all-time heroes Leo Vieira and lost via points. I lost the match towards the end because of my lack of experience with the ADCC rules at the time. I pulled guard with five minutes remaining which gave me a negative point and that forced me to really leave my game plan and try to score or submit him at any means possible and I ended up giving up a takedown in a good scramble. I lost 3-0. Today I feel way more seasoned and experienced to compete in a tournament such as ADCC.

If they had an invite for you but in a weight class different than what you normally fight, would you still accept?

If ADCC invited me for a weight class different than my normal weight I would probably fight only because ADCC is such a great opportunity for grapplers to compete in.

What accomplishments in no-gi do you have that could prove your skill?

I am 2 time No-Gi World Championship black belt finalist and a black belt No-Gi Pan American Champion. I am also a brown belt No-Gi World and Pan Am Champion.

If you chose the qualifications for an ADCC invite, what do you think would be necessary for all participants?

If I had to choose the qualifications for an ADCC invite, I would make it necessary for all participants to have at least medaled in a major BJJ or no-gi tournament at the brown belt or black belt level.

The committee also looks into those who have backgrounds in other martial art disciplines. Are you working on or do you have experience in other fields like Judo, Wrestling, Sambo, etc?

I actually wrestled before I started training BJJ. When I was about 12 years old I started going to wrestling Mat Clubs throughout New York and New Jersey. Even when BJJ became my main focus in life, I would still make sure to wrestle about twice a week.

They also believe that having people from different nationalities allows for better development of the sport around the world. What other nationalities besides American do you represent?

Besides representing the United States, I also represent Puerto Rico, even though PR is also part of the States. Both my parents are born and raised in Puerto Rico, so my roots run deep in PR.

Would you like to see JT in the ADCC? Let us know.

Watch JT at the 2012 No-Gi World Championship:

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