There were a lot of big names at the Worlds this year, as there are every year. Warriors determined to become world champions. Extraordinary athletes who train religiously, every day, multiple times a day, working towards that title, no matter how far in the future it may be. Names like Roger Gracie, Romulo Barral, Rodrigo Cavaca, Roberto Abreu, Bernardo Faria, Tarsis Humphreys, Marcelo Garcia, Kayron Gracie, Antonio Braga Neto, and Rubens Charles “Cobrinha” Maciel, Otavio Sousa, to name a few. They showed up again this year and wowed the crowd with what seemed to be their superhuman Jiu-Jitsu skills, speed, strength, and agility.
The average person is never going to see that kind of glory. For those who work a full-time job and train before or after work just for the love of the sport, the achievement comes from simply registering for the Worlds and taking to the mats, even if it’s for just one match, to say they competed in the biggest tournament of the year, in front of massive crowds and under even bigger expectations. This is the Worlds after all.
Mike Schuss, an ultra heavy brown belt from GB Vancouver is no stranger to competition. He won the Pan in 2007 and 2009 and took silver in 2008, so he knew what to expect at the Worlds this year. However, right before he left Canada, he started to get sick, but came anyway. “I feel really good now,” Schuss said in between matches. It didn’t hurt that he had already won two matches by that time, both by points.
Schuss’ third match was with Rafael Cavaca from Checkmat. For a big man, Cavaca was surprisingly agile, jumping guard at the start of the match. Although the fight was a real “dog fight,” with neither of them giving much up to the other, Schuss ended up losing the match on points. As he stepped off the mats, sweating and obviously exhausted, he said, “That was a tough fight.” Schuss said he had a great experience at the Worlds and was glad he came to compete. His instructor, Rodrigo Carvalho, said that Schuss was a really nice guy and deserved all his success.
For Felipe Guedes of GB Dana Point, this was his first competition as a brown belt. He only recently received it, and was excited to test himself at such a prestigious event, regardless of the outcome. Guedes was feeling a little dubious as he stepped onto the mats to compete against Pedro Soriano from Gracie Humaita. “He’s been a brown belt for four years,” Guedes said, but he didn’t let it intimidate him. Guedes fought hard, with his teacher Flavio Almeida coaching him from the sidelines, and won by points. “I felt confident during the match,” he said, “I tried to make no mistakes at all and won because I didn’t.”
Guedes fought GB teammate Diogo Lacerda in his second match. “I think he got in my head a little bit. He’s one of my training partners and I know he has more experience and is really strong – I know how good he is.” Although Guedes ended up losing by points, he said he was happy with his performance. As he left the pyramid in Long Beach after a long and tiring day, he reflected, “I realize I have a lot to learn.”
Rodrigo Augusta is a featherweight purple belt from GB Long Beach. During his second match at the Worlds against Donald Flowers, he hurt his wrist. “I put my hand on the mats. He pushed me and my wrist bent back. I felt it crack. I couldn’t close my hand, but had to keep fighting.” Somehow, Augusta was able to take Flowers’ back, but couldn’t get the choke in because he had no strength in his hand. The clock eventually ran out and Augusta won on points.
His third match was against Rene Lopez, from Legion JJ. Augusta said it was one of the toughest matches he’s had. “His guard was really strong,” Augusta said, but he held Lopez off, and won by points. In his fourth fight, Augusta fought Adnris Brunovskeis from Lloyd Irvin and lost. Augusta said his wrist started hurting again. “I couldn’t work against his guard,” he said, “But he won because he was a really good fighter, not because of my wrist.” Brunovskeis went on to take gold.
Augusta says his Worlds experience was great. He’d moved up to featherweight so he didn’t have to diet anymore. “I’m 13 lbs heavier than normal. My opponents were stronger than I’m used to, but it was good for me and I feel a lot healthier and happier.”
Greg Geithner is an ultra heavy blue belt from GB America. Let it be known – Geithner is a big guy, even by big guy standards. Right before he walked onto the mats for the first time, he turned to a teammate and joked, “I hope this guy doesn’t end my Worlds experience in the first match.” The opposite turned out to be true…Geithner submitted him with a kimura within 10 seconds of the fight. It didn’t come that easy to Geithner after that. His second fight went the whole six minutes and he won it by hard earned points. In his third and final match, he lost to Rochson Borghetti of Sul JJ by forearm choke. Borghetti went on to win gold.
When describing his Worlds experience, Geithner said, “It was awesome to test my skills against others from around the world. It was definitely the most challenging competition I’ve done. The caliber of opponents was the highest I’ve ever gone against. I appreciate the support of my teammates and am proud to be part of the GB family.”
Tim Humphry, a middleweight blue belt from GB San Clemente got to experience his first ever Worlds this year. Humphrys has an MMA and wrestling background to compliment his Jiu-Jitsu skills. In his first match, he beat his opponent 24-0. In his second match, he had to face De’Alonzio Jackson, from Lloyd Irvin. Although Humphry gave him a run for his money, Jackson was able to submit him with a kimura. “He was very strong and very tough,” Humphry said.
Humphry lost 14 lbs. to become a middleweight and it might have cost him. “It was hard for me to lose all that weight,” he said, “I’m hurting right now – I’m cramping. I lost some of my strength.” Regardless of the pain, Humphry said, “My experience was awesome. I love to compete. I just wish I could have lasted a little longer. I’ll be back again next year!”
Professor Alberto Crane, from GB Pasadena, brought a strong team to the 2010 Worlds. One of his students, Orlando Sanchez, a super heavy blue belt, found his glory this year. When Crane first met Sanchez, he was 320 lbs. A short 1 ½ years later, he lost 100 lbs, won the 2009 Pan as a white belt, took silver in the 2009 Worlds as a newly appointed blue belt, and won the absolute at the World Professional JJ Cup North American West Coast Trials in 2010. Sanchez got his trip paid for to the Abu Dhabis. There, he lost a hard-fought match to the sheik’s adopted son during his last match.
At the 2010 Worlds, Sanchez took silver in his division by winning four out of five matches. According to Crane, in his final divisional match against Marcelo Tarso Strada from Atos, Sanchez finished his semifinals match and walked to another mat for his final, competing again with no rest, which gave Strada an unfair advantage. “Strada did a flying triangle at the beginning of the match,” Crane said, “Orlando got out, but he got behind in points and couldn’t catch up. I just wish they hadn’t rushed him onto the mats, so we could have seen who was really better. It turned out ok, though because he proved he was the best in the open class.”
In the absolute, Sanchez had another five matches. “The semi and final fights were like wars,” Crane said. Sanchez left on top of the world with a gold and a silver. Crane gave him his purple belt on the podium. “I’m so proud of him and the guy he’s become,” Crane said, “He’s a leader and an inspiration to everyone at the school because of his love for the sport and his work ethic.”
Another of Crane’s students, Jess Martinez, an unassuming 16-year-old juvenile blue belt, also had an amazing Worlds experience. When Martinez was young, his parents separated. His mom moved to Cleveland and his dad stayed in New Mexico. One summer when he was 9, his dad took him to a Jiu-Jitsu class where Crane was teaching. Crane and his dad saw something special in Martinez, and the rest of the story took a fairy tale turn. “BJJ brought his family back together,” Crane said, “Because of Jess’ talent, his mom and dad got back together again. Now the family is dedicated to their family and this sport. It’s been the highlight of my career to see how I could help change people’s lives like that.”
Crane says Martinez is a humble leader and a strong individual. “He’s a real fighter and never gives up,” he says. That was obvious at the Worlds when Martinez fought 10 matches throughout the day, taking gold in his division and silver in the absolute. “Jess is so talented,” Crane says, “He’s also in the top 8 in wrestling in the country. I can see him being a UFC champion in the future.”