Based in the US state of Texas, Alex Martins, from AMBJJ, has plenty of reasons to celebrate. After the complicated period of restrictions of the pandemic, the black belt hit the Miami Open mats with all his strength and scored gold in the competition, shining among the middleweights and in the master 3 absolute.
With another event already in sight, Alex chatted with the GRACIEMAG team about the challenges he faced both in the isolation period and in his return to competition. Check the lines below and absorb valuable lessons from those who excelled in fighting. Oss!
GRACIEMAG: How did AMBJJ deal with the pandemic?
ALEX MARTINS: At the beginning, we had a lot of difficulties. Due to the social distance and isolation necessary to contain the virus, our classes were held through videoconferences. Our goal was to keep our students focused and disciplined while they stayed active in their homes. We held meetings, drills, and discussed techniques, all through video.
As the pandemic progressed, flexibility measures were implemented that allowed the reopening of certain establishments. How was this period for your gym?
Here in Texas, we have a very capable governor with immense understanding. After four months in isolation, he managed to open the state and our academy reopened. We had a list of observations and precautions we needed to follow to keep it going, such as social distance and occupancy limits. In this way, we reduced the classes and divided the times, but kept the activities. Due to the distance, we only did stretches, but after about a month, we were able to implement classes in pairs. Two months after the reopening, we went back to doing the regular sparring, but only in groups of two or three, to maintain control in case someone got infected.
How was the competitive training during this period?
At the end of 2020, we were able to return to a good level of training with the division of belts, so we started to give more focus to competitions. The IBJJF had already come back with events a few months before, but we preferred to talk it through, agreed to train in a safe and disciplined way, and come back to tournaments when we were ready.
You were recently champion at the Miami Open 2021. What was it like to return to competitive mats?
It was difficult, but I decided to fight in this event knowing it would be a challenge. The Miami Open welcomes many athletes from Florida, which is a place that has many strong gyms. I was aware of that, so I trained a lot and managed to be champion twice, weight and open class. In all, I fought six times, four of the victories were by submission and two were in points. It was a rewarding experience for me and I am very happy with my result.
Have your eyes on another tournament yet?
I’m going to participate in the American National, which will take place between June 24th and 26th, in Las Vegas. My category will be difficult, with several challenging athletes, but I like it anyway. The more strong opponents, the more I feel motivated to train. In addition to this event, I also want to participate in the Pan in September, but I am keeping my focus on the American National.