Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Photo Submitted

THE ELITE TEAM – Members of the Elite Martial Arts Academy travelled to Anchorage last weekend to compete in the Alaska State No-Gi Submission Grappling Championships. Photo submitted by ROBERT WOODMAN

Martial artists see success in jiu-jitsu tourney

The jiu-jitsu practitioners at Elite Martial Arts Academy have returned from Anchorage after competing in the Alaska State No-Gi Submission Grappling Championships last Saturday.

By John Tonin on November 7, 2019

The jiu-jitsu practitioners at Elite Martial Arts Academy have returned from Anchorage after competing in the Alaska State No-Gi Submission Grappling Championships last Saturday.

While in Alaska, the Elite martial artists brought home an impressive medal haul. Dan Hombert, a black-belt instructor at the gym, earned a silver medal in the 189-pound advanced class.

His first match, he faced an opponent much bigger than himself.

"My division, we had another guy who was in the 215-pound class but was the only one so he was bumped down to our class," said Hombert. "I got him first match and got him in a straight arm-lock from bottom position.

"I was happy because those guys are pretty wrestling-orientated and I was able to get a couple of takedowns against a couple of wrestlers."

Hombert also earned bronze in the absolute division, where there are no weight classes. He said he was more impressed with his silver medal.

"I got bronze in the absolute, but I was more happy with the silver, that was my better performance," said Hombert. "I was just happy to be there, get experience, get back on the mats and perform in front of my students."

Robert Woodman, another instructor at the gym, said there is some added pressure when competing in front of the students.

"I like to think there isn't but you always want to show your students what you are showing them, teaching them is working," said Woodman. "One of our teammates told us once he watched Dan and I win our first match, it gave them a little jolt."

Having competed last year in the intermediate division, Woodman stepped up a level to compete in the advanced 176-pound division.

Hombert said Woodman dominated his first match.

"His first fight he won on a big points advantage," said Hombert. "Bobby got a takedown, then he passed the guard and got mount. Each one of those techniques is scored a different amount of points depending on how well-positioned you are.

"He basically out grappled the guy just couldn't get the submission."

An advanced match lasted seven minutes. If the martial artist cannot secure a submission, the referee is signalling to the scorekeepers about who is scoring points by advancing position.

Hombert said winning by points is not uncommon in the upper levels of jiu-jitsu.

"That happens often in the advanced category," said Hombert. "It's a lot of winning on points because both guys are pretty good defensively. A lot of times you find people fight not to lose rather than to win. They are really defensive."

Woodman earned himself and the gym a silver medal and said he just needed a little bit more time and he thinks he could have had him.

"The guy that ended up beating me, he was really strong, a really good wrestler," said Woodman. "He held me down and I couldn't really move him around too much. Because of my cardio, if I had more time I think I could have got him."

Woodman said there are some nerves before a match when he is staring down his opponent.

"It's a little nerve-wracking because you don't know how strong they are or what they are going to do," said Woodman. "So once you get a hold of them and feel his power, you settle down a little bit."

Kaylee Fortier, competing in the kids' division, won a bronze medal.

"She won with a hip toss, actually," said Hombert. "She was down on points and we were like, 'you gotta get a takedown,' and she ended up grabbing a judo-style throw and threw her opponent to the ground.

"When the girl landed with Kaylee on top of her, I think it knocked the wind out of her and she couldn't continue. She was all right, but we were all like, 'that was sweet,' otherwise she would have lost that match."

Kyle Nightingale, a blue belt, earned a bronze in the intermediate division. He pulled off an impressive move in his match.

"He had a nice win," said Hombert. "He had a nice fireman's carry takedown, and then he won the rest of the match on points. He got a guard pass and battled it out with the guy to the end. That was a real close match. That was a wicked win for him."

"I got more enjoyment watching them," said Woodman. "Kyle hit this fireman's carry. He committed to it; it was beautiful, and I'm still excited talking about it."

Hombert said the competition saw about 300 martial artists. More came to watch the fights, creating a fun atmosphere to compete in.

"In the stands, there were probably 400 people," said Hombert. "It was cool. Especially for the kids, although it might make them nervous.

"When it's an individual sport and it's just you and the other person, it's almost like being the goaltender in hockey. You think you feel the eyes more."

Hombert also added that it is a knowledgeable crowd, so they cheer a nice guard pass or a nice submission regardless of whether they know the martial artist.

With the tournament behind them now, Hombert said he saw a few things that need improvement in class.

"I saw some things," said Hombert. "Some of it is just competition-orientated where people are just hesitating and not trusting their abilities to get a takedown. They were, instead of trying to get a takedown, were trying to prevent a takedown.

"It's good to be the aggressor in those situations. I think every match we got the takedown, we ended up probably winning because you end up in top position most of the time."

He also noticed that escapes could use some more fine-tuning.

"Other things, our escapes need some work," said Hombert. "Our mount escapes and stuff. It's just being more aggressive with our hips, keeping them off-balance, just bumping them, bumping them and then working to get the legs back and into guard.

"You can sometimes get away with being more methodical in the gym but there (in competition) it has to be more power with technique. It can't just be technique purely, it's that other level of them trying to stay on top as long as they can."

The Elite athletes will look to do another competition soon, this time with a gi, the martial uniform. Hombert said they continue to get more interest in competitions every time they travel.

"Other people that haven't competed yet, it piques their interest," said Hombert. "Every time we go down, we slowly gain a few more competitors. It's not a requirement at all, but it's cool to test yourself against somebody that's not your buddy."

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.