Jackson Nagai made an exciting return to competition in 2023. The Checkmat black belt won the American National Championship and the Houston and Santa Cruz Opens, all with the IBJJF label. He performed well at the World Championships and secured third place in the lightweight division.
In his most recent engagement, Jackson put on an impeccable performance against Natan Chueng in one of the IBJJF Absolute GP superfights, on September 1st in Las Vegas. The Brazilian applied his offensive game and defeated his opponent by 8-2. Jackson evaluates his performance and points out the quality of the event.
“The IBJJF Absolute GP was incredible, the venue was sensational, the event was very professional and you can see that the sport is evolving. It was an honor to be part of this great event. Natan and I did the first fight of the night and we put on a show, the crowd enjoyed the fight. The fight was tough, Natan and I fought forward. I have an aggressive Jiu-Jitsu style and I always try to pass the guard, finish and maintain constant movement. It was an incredible fight, ten minutes of no holds barred,” says Jackson Nagai.
Jackson is a hunter of submissions and often delivers electrifying fights. He defines his Jiu-Jitsu as aggressive and says that his goal is to keep up the intensity without giving his opponents any room.
“My style is aggressive, I always go up and look for the finish. When I can’t finish, I try to score a lot of points. Of course, that’s not always possible, sometimes you have to be more strategic. But the main thing in my game is to attack non-stop,” says the black belt.
The 29-year-old is trained by his teacher and multi-champion Lucas Leite. Jackson’s progress in the championships has been evident in his last few appearances and the lightweight has achieved significant results. The Checkmat representative assures that his growth in competitions is the result of Lucas’ excellent work.
“Lucas is a great teacher, he leads training sessions on a daily basis and gives support to all athletes, whether they’re beginners or professionals. He’s a true example of a champion and has had a huge influence on my game. After I started training with him, I learned more refined and offensive Jiu-Jitsu,” says Jackson.
Jackson Nagai fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu during the most complicated phase of his life. The manauara was based in Japan and overcame countless adversities during his time in the Asian country. The sport came about as a tool to defend himself against his own father and as a guide to keep away from bad influences.
“I started Jiu-Jitsu after my parents split up. My father left home when I was 15, he had an abusive relationship with my mother, so I started a martial art to use as self-defense. I was afraid of him. The other reason was to seek discipline. In Japan, there’s a lot of evil too and I was around bad influences at the time. Jiu-Jitsu was the escape valve for me to be a more respectful person, to develop confidence in myself and to have greater control over my emotions. I started training Jiu-Jitsu when I was 17. Before that, I had experience with karate and kickboxing, but I fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu,” recalls the Brazilian.
The period in Japan was arduous, but Jackson recognizes that he and his brother Samuel grew stronger in the face of obstacles. Today they are established athletes, recognized for their high-level Jiu-Jitsu.
He recalls moments in the Land of the Rising Sun and celebrates his return to the championships.
“I went to live in Japan when I was 12 and got to know Jiu-Jitsu when I was 17, as I said. I even took my brother to train when I was 10. Sometimes Samuel didn’t want to train, but I always encouraged him. At one point, I took a lot of furniture out of our living room and bought some mats for us to train on. Thanks to God, today we have the rewards of the hard work we put in. I graduated as a black belt in 2020, I was a finalist in the Pan, I won several Opens, but I was away from the championships for a year due to injuries. I came back that year and 2023 was excellent for me, I fought well, won several tournaments and was called to several events,” says Jackson Nagai.