Grappling Tournament Experience from a Jiu Jitsu White Belt

A few weeks ago I competed in the 2017 Newbreed Grappling Tournament in McCook, Illinois. I knew about the event in advance, so the date was scheduled on my calendar.

A week before the competition I had my mind set on traveling to the event. I had competed and won the 135-155 division for white belts earlier that year so I thought it made sense to try for the gold again.

As the week went on I wasn’t feeling the best and was just kind of off. I decided by Wednesday I wouldn’t waste my time competing since I didn’t feel I would be 100%. As the week went on I ignored the idea of the tournament.

When Saturday, the day of the tournament came, my family and I went out to an early breakfast. I enjoyed the food and was feeling normal and more upbeat. I checked the time and realized if I made the decision to go to the tournament we could still make it and weigh in last-minute.

I asked my girlfriend and daughter if they thought I should give the competition a shot. They both agreed that if I felt I could do it then we should go. We went and gathered my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and No-Gi uniforms, then we hit the road.

We made it in time and I checked in for the 155-170 pound division. It was a long wait from there, as we had arrived around 1:30pm and wouldn’t compete until around 5:30pm.

At my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School, 4Jitz Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, in Greenfield, WI, we predominantly train in the BJJ Gi.  My first match would be in the No-Gi division and I was ready for the challenge. It had been quite some time since I practiced without a uniform so I was optimistic, but I did not know what to expect of myself.

I was happy that the first match was No-Gi and I had a very good time rolling with my opponent. I felt we were both very active and well matched for each other, but he came away with the win against me.

After we finished, I thought it was nice to hear the referee say, “that was the best match I had seen today.” Since the tournament was single elimination, I was finished with the No-Gi until the BJJ Gi portion started.

My first match with the BJJ Gi went very well with a north south choke victory. The second match ended fast with a quick rear naked choke under one minute. The final match was against a very tall guy and I struggled to pass his guard for just about the entire match. In the last ten seconds I was finally able to do it, and I remember seeing the clock with points in my favor and realizing I had the victory.

The event turned out to be quite the success for me. Of course, anytime you can be first place in anything and call yourself a Champion would make for a great day.Jonathan poses for the Newbreed grappling tournament photographer after receiving the Gold medal and standing on the number one spot at the podium

The thing that I felt was very cool about this grappling tournament was that I didn’t plan to compete, but all the work I normally put in to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seemed to pay off.

My mind was on auto pilot and I was pretty calm through my matches.  Although I believe I can always do better, I was happy with the instincts that took over and led me to win a first place gold in my second Newbreed tournament in a row.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu definitely provides an interesting journey. So many times I wonder if am I peaking, getting worse, or just staying the same.

My Professor Gilmar Ferreira always says that in Jiu-Jitsu you go through moments where you develop a “click.” In your brain you just realize things have slowed down, and you realize you’ve learned and understand a position.  You may feel more openings to link attacks or comfort in moving your body some new way.

With every event, I know that any grappling tournament can be tough, but the opportunities to create memories like these are extremely gratifying.

The difference with martial arts and team sports is that you can only rely on yourself when you’re  in a fight.  The ego has to disappear because there is no lying to yourself or you will be exposed by someone that wants victory just as bad as you do. If your dedication is there then the work, sweat, and constant lessons learned on the mat eventually pay off.  

So this time it worked out for me and I’m glad I can say I was victorious.  I’m sure a lot more opportunities to compete in other grappling tournaments lie ahead for me, but for now I’ll enjoy this one. 

Check out the compilation video of the grappling tournament through the video below! If you enjoy LYFE Experience, “Like” our content, comment, “subscribe”, and “follow” on social media.  Thanks!

Jonathan stands on the podium with friend and family with Gold medal and more grappling tournament experience


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