With all the focus on the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Open over the last three weeks, it is time for all of us here at The Rx Review to shift focus (if only for a moment).
Many involved in CrossFit participate in other sports–rugby, football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and soccer. Beyond these popular events, there are countless athletes that use CrossFit as strength and conditioning to prepare for more specialist sports. I happen to be one of those.
Several years ago, I took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and simultaneously decided to integrate CrossFit into my training. To my surprise, I soon discovered these two sports not only complement each other but they actually form an almost symbiotic relationship. The elements of technique, power, endurance, and hip movement central to CrossFit also applies to Jiu-Jitsu.
Although I have suffered a few injuries in Jiu-Jitsu training over the years, my coach Thiago Braga keeps me coming back. When I disappear from the gym for a few weeks, I often receive a friendly text message or call from him to see how I’m doing. And when I finally show up, he always makes a point of greeting me with a warm smile. He is never fazed when I ask him to show me the same technique for the umpteenth time. The combination of attention to detail and personal concern that he gives to his 150 students keeps all of us coming back week after week for more armbars, guillotines and rear-naked-chokes.
For this reason and many more, I was delighted about his recent performance at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship Trials. For those that don’t know, this event was founded by the His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in 2009 and has fast become one of the most prestigious events in Jiu-Jitsu’s crowded international calendar. This event consists of 26 qualifying heats held in 21 countries around the world. Winning your division comes with both a hefty purse and an all-expenses-paid trip, with 5-Star accommodation in Abu Dhabi, to compete against the world’s best. These incentives have helped to make the event very competitive.
Australia received its turn at hosting one of those qualifying heats just last month. And like many competitors from around the country, Thiago showed up to the Trials as excited and tense as the rest. He was competing in the under 74-kilogram (163-pounds) class for brown and black belts. In his early fights, Thiago obtained an early submission victory in his first match and a convincing points decision in his second. That secured him a place in the final where he would battle it out for the ticket to Abu Dhabi.
In the first phase of the 6-minute bout, Thiago scored two early points. But his opponent quickly struck back, taking the lead 4 points to 2. As time ticked down, his opponent’s win seemed all but certain. But then, with a mere 58 seconds left, the two fighters rolled off the mats, forcing the referee to stop the clock. As they were ushered back to the center, Thiago took a moment to fix his belt.
When he looked up, Thiago was greeted by sea of sympathetic supporters virtually willing him on to win. With his home crowd behind him, he knew he had to do something miraculous.
As the referee brought them back to center, Thiago took a deep breath. After the referee signaled the fight to resume, the two men hunched down and began to circle one another. Suddenly, his opponent lunged at his legs. With precision, speed, and accuracy, Thiago countered with a stunning move that landed him on top of his opponent. Immediately the crowd erupted with a chorus of cheers, applause, and, yes, song. The crowd knew what the judges did: Thiago’s move had scored an additional 4 points giving him the lead with just 38-seconds left. He would go on to hold his position, winning the match 6 points to 4 in a stunning last-minute upset.
Thiago now moves on to compete at the Abu Dhabi Pro World Championship next month. His friends here at The Rx Review are wishing him best of luck. We will be sure to let you know how he does.
It was truly a thrilling match. If you have a moment, you can see it in the video below. Alternatively you can find out more about Thiago Braga here.