Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Morris Prokop

GREAT GRAPPLERS – Vedha Tosacano, bottom, attempts to perform an escape on her father Fabio during a special class at Eight Days Martial Arts in Whitehorse Saturday featuring the black belts from New York.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

EXPERT INSTRUCTION – Sixth-degree black belt Fabio Tosacano instructs Declan Abbott, left and Riley Cyre on how to apply a hold.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

CHOKE HOLD – Fabio Tosacano applies a choke hold on Eight Days instructor Robert Woodman.

Eight Days hosts 6th-degree black belt, world champ daughter

Eight Days Martial Arts welcomed 6th-degree jiu jitsu black belt Fabio Tosacano and his world champion daughter to Whitehorse for a special class Saturday.

By Morris Prokop on August 5, 2022

Eight Days Martial Arts welcomed 6th-degree jiu jitsu black belt Fabio Tosacano and his world champion daughter to Whitehorse for a special class Saturday.

Tosacano, 57, was born in Brazil. Vedha Tosacano, 27, was born in Manhattan and has dual citizenship. She won a world championship in 2019 in no gi (kimono).

Tosacano has been doing jiu jitsu since 1983 and teaching in New York since 1995. He had the first jiu jitsu gym in New York City.

The two Brazilian jiu jitsu black belts are travelling from New York to Anchorage, Alaska.

Tosacano said adventure brought him to the Yukon.

“We want to see bears, we want to see moose, bison.”

Tosacano explained how they came to teach a class in Whitehorse.

“It was the last minute. ‘We’re gonna pass through this town. Let’s see if they have jiu jitsu’ ... my daughter contacted Robert (Woodman) to come to this gym ... it was a very short time, so we drove 10 hours a day to be here.”

“It was very motivating to come and visit (a) new gym, new town ... it was very exciting to meet new people.”

“Today we did a little bit for the kids ... underhook butterfly sweeps, combined with some escapes from the bottom.”

They also taught reactions to different actions.

“There’s so much you can show,” said Tosacano.

He said they try to show techniques that work for everybody, from kids up to the much more advanced purple belts.

“Some sweeps very simple but very easy to use, from white belt to black belt – Spider-sweep.”

Tosacano really enjoyed teaching the class.

“It was fantastic, really happy ... very impressive; Canadian people is very friendly. In New York, it looks like everybody (is) ready to fight you ... here, people just smile ... extremely friendly people, really appreciate it, really enjoy that.”

Tosacano said they don’t have any sponsors on their tour.

“We decided it should be donation-based. There’s no pressure. If people don’t have money, that’s fine. We teach anyway.

“If you want to help us out with some gas – it’s expensive – we appreciate that too.”

Tosacano added he is enjoying travelling with his daughter Vedha.

“We never get to travel much together, so it’s a good trip. Spend time with her and my dog too, who I treat like part of my family ... it’s so good to be travelling and see different places. Everyday, sleep in a different place and meet different people.”

Eight Days instructor Robert Woodman said the class was “amazing. It’s very rare that we have that kind of calibre come up. I was a little worried about the technique but they actually showed stuff that I’m not very good at. So it worked out perfectly. I learned from them doing their basic stuff but it’s definitely a learning experience for me. I’m glad that everybody enjoyed it and had fun. Kids especially.”

Woodman added, “There was very little room on the mats; there was so many people, bumping into other people. I love it when the mats are full. If the mats are full, then I’m happy. Everybody learned a lot.

“I’m beyond happy. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Vedha Tosacano also enjoyed the class.

“It was so much fun. They were so welcoming and friendly. It was nice. We’ve been stopping along the way and teaching seminars and it’s really special to see different gyms ... making connections, make new friends.”

Vedha thought the class went really well.

“We try to separate it a little bit, just based on level, cause there was a lot of kids here. At the other ones, we didn’t have so many kids, so breaking it down so everyone can gain something from it. There’s no point in showing something really complicated that people are gonna have a hard time doing and not gonna use, so I always think the basics work so well, so I want to focus on that. So we made it a little simpler, didn’t show anything crazy but the fundamentals work so well, so I think it’s important to sharpen those.”

She had some advice for up and coming jiu jitsu athletes, and beginners.

“Just keep showing up and you’ll get there. Making little goals and not giving up. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else but yourself ... just focus on yourself and keep putting in the work and keep trying and keep showing up.

“I didn’t really win anything big until I got to like, brown belt. I kept showing up ... competing. At purple belt, I had some success, but I always said “OK, I’m gonna go until I’m world champion ... one day. I got it at black belt so it was very special to me.

“And that’s my journey. Someone else may have different goals and a different journey but I think everyone has their own way in this sport. Some people compete just for fun. Some people compete to make it their life. So you just have to do what works for you.”

“This sport is growing at a crazy rate ... there’s so many more opportunities today than there were 20 years ago ... if you want to make a living out of this sport, you can now, just based on your dedication and what you want out of it.”

Needless to say, she is enjoying spending time with her father.

“It’s really special to me. It’s a trip that my dad’s always wanted to do ... he wanted to go from New York to Brazil, but that’s a long trip. So I think it was a couple months ago, or maybe the beginning of the year, he was like ‘I want to go New York to Alaska.’ And I was like, ‘That sounds cool. I’ll go with you there.’

“It’s really special being able to share the mats, just working and training with my dad. We do everything together ... it’s nice to spend time with him and get to do something we both love and along the way, share a little bit of what we like to do. It’s really cool. It shows you how special the community of jiu jitsu is, that we do something that we can literally spread around the world, so I think that’s really special.”

From Whitehorse, they are travelling to Fairbanks and on to Anchorage, where Vedha will fly back to New York.

Her brother Zata will meet Fabio in Anchorage and they’ll take another route down to Vancouver, then go back through the States.

They are making stops in Seattle and Portland and maybe Denver, Pittsburgh and Akron, Ohio.

“Some people want us back ... I come back with my son and teach them some different stuff,” said Tosacano.

“It’s exciting because we never know where we’re gonna stop.”

“Maybe the next trip I’ll do South America,” he added. “I’d love to go New York to Brazil ... that’s gonna be about six months. Lots of borders to cross. More dangerous too. Central America’s more dangerous.”

Chances are, the Toscanos would be able to handle any trouble they may encounter along the way.

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