By Gaige Davila
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments have returned to the Laguna Madre area, with locals taking home gold after a fast-paced, two-hour, submission-only tournament.
In all, 36 fights were held, with 7 title fights, with competitors from all over Texas, Mexico, and even Waipahu, Hawaii. Between 800 to 900 people attended the tournament, held at the Port Isabel Events and Cultural Center.
Chris Peña, JD Garza and Matthew Clinton, all Laguna Madre area natives and or residents and students of SPI BJJ, walked away with title belts, the winners of title matches in the 160, 245 and 280 weight class, respectively.
The tournament was hosted by Submission FC, operated by SPI BJJ owner Joseph Cantu.
“I never expected to hold a title belt when I started my Jiu-Jitsu journey,” Peña told the PRESS. “My intention was never to compete. It was to both learn to better defend myself and even more so to quote Joe Rogan ‘use it as a vehicle to expand my human potential.’ Little did I know I would also gain a whole other family. I love my team! I wouldn’t have this belt if it wasn’t for them.”
Clinton thanked Submission FC and SPI BJJ for hosting a “well-run” event, calling the tournament a great opportunity to compete with athletes across the state.
“Finding Jiu-Jitsu and SPI BJJ has given me an opportunity to find an outlet for personal growth through training and now competing,” Clinton told the PRESS. “Meeting a like-minded group of amazing people and athletes from all different backgrounds has helped me feel at home in my new community. When I first moved to South Padre it was difficult to feel as part of the community, but joining SPI BJJ has helped me find my place and helped me feel at home.”
“I’ve worked and trained hard for this title,” Garza told the PRESS. “A lot of commitment, hard work and dedication thanks to those who push me, especially my wife. It feels great to have the title. This is just a stepping stone for greater things to come. Jiu-Jitsu has taught me many things from discipline to being humble. Jiu-Jitsu is my passion; I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Legends BJJ, based in Temple, Texas, led by instructor Travis Moore, which is the state affiliate team of SPI BJJ and Empire Combat Academy, based in Harlingen, Texas, won the team trophy for most submissions.
Disclosure: Editor Gaige Davila is a member of SPI BJJ.