The 2016 Grappler’s Heart Tournament has come and gone. What an amazing experience it was. Jiu Jitsu fighters from all over the US and even one from the UK came to compete. For more than half the athletes, it was their first time competing.
What made Grappler’s Heart so special? It wasn’t because there were big names like Galvao or Cornelius. There were no flying armbars or flashy finishes. It was the heart and determination shown by each athlete. It was the thought that went into every movement to adapt it to the athlete’s abilities. It was the fact that these warriors put it all on the line for the chance at a gold medal. There were no excuses, only hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Well, maybe not tears. Every single person left the gym feeling exhilerated and accomplished. All of them ready to compete again.
UPMA brought two athletes to compete. Both Nolan and Amaris fought their hearts out and both took home a silver medal. It wasn’t the medals that made the day. It was the look on their faces and the feeling of accomplishment that they left with that day. After losing her first fight via armbar, Amaris jumped up with a big smile one her face, ready to go again. When asked what he liked about competing, Nolan said “Getting to test yourself against other people at your level”. Wow. Most adults I know don’t have an outlook that positive.
Hopefully, this is the first of many events for Team UPMA. We are in the process of helping the fine people at Dream Jiu Jitsu form a category for people with special needs at an upcoming tournament. We hope to add to our list of competitors, with the ultimate goal of finding a suitable opponent for each and every one of our students. Everyone should have the chance to test themselves against someone else at their level.