One of my goals at black belt was to win the trifecta, which is the IBJJF Europeans, Pans, and of course, the Worlds. Having won the Master Worlds tournament at black belt in 2021 & 2022 and then just this January, the Europeans, I now had my chance to go for it at this year’s Pans. I tried to achieve the Pans title in 2022, but came up short losing a referee’s decision in the championship.
The master 6 heavyweight black belt bracket consisted of four other competitors. I drew the #1 seed and therefore the quarterfinal bye. The semifinal match started out good with a two point lead via takedown. As I was passing my opponent’s guard, he felt a “pop” in his knee. Unfortunately he was not able to continue and had to be taken to the hospital.
The championship match was against an opponent that I have not ever faced. He had placed 3rd when I won the Master Worlds in 2021, but he was on the other side of the bracket.
I secured a takedown and eventually took his back. He had good back defense and prevented me from finishing an attempt at a bow-n-arrow and a feeder choke. Finishing the match with a victory on points (6-0), I became the champion and achieved my goal!
The open division took place about four hours later with a bracket of seven competitors. I was the #3 seed, behind a good friend of mine at #2 and a new face on the scene at #1. The #1 seed had just aged into the master 6 bracket this year. His points as the number one ranked master 5 black belt were considered for seeding.
The quarter final match went well and resulted in a win on points.
The semifinal was against a good friend of mine. We understand each other well, in that, during the match we are both giving it our all to win. We are still friends after the match even as we exchange apologies for any accidental cuts and bruises that occurred during our match. I was able to come out ahead on points and advance to the final.
The championship match was one that demonstrated what I try to explain to people when I talk about the true “deep ocean” that is the black belt division. I started Jiu-Jitsu thirteen years ago. As I advanced through the lower belts most of my opponents had close to the same number of years of experience in Jiu-Jitsu as I did. When you get to black belt that range of years expands greatly. I have faced a sixth degree black belt before, but this one really had the methodical positioning, technique and composure that I think comes from 24 years of experience as a black belt.
I gave it my best, but could not even score. He eventually got to my back and worked in a solid choke to which I tapped.
I was happy with second place in the absolute.
As an added bonus, winning my division and placing high in the absolute advanced my position in the overall IBJJF ranking for master 6 black belts to number three!