2002 Fall Submission Grappling Championships
Columbia Martial Arts Training Center
I would like to start by expressing my thanks to Mr. Mark Mills and his wife Tonya for inviting me to cover their event. Mark runs a very successful martial arts school in Columbia SC ( http://www.cmatc.com  ) and he holds approximately three submission grappling tournaments every year. The comments I hear from the competitors around the area is that Mark's events are some of the best available. The level of competition and the number of competitors make the event very exciting for all that participate. The tournament held Saturday Oct 19, 2002 had 104 competitors. There were gi and no-gi divisions, three skill levels in each division and of course divided up by weight class. Time limits for the matches ran 5 minutes, 9 minutes and 12 minutes. The extended time limits gave the fighters time to work their strategy and submit their opponents. There were three rings running at the same time, so I was unable to photograph everyone, and I missed a lot of the matches but I would say that ninety percent of the matches were won by Submission.
I am a member of Team Alliance and I train on a regular basis with Professor Luis "Sucuri" Togno of Alliance Charlotte ( http://www.sucuribjj.com  ). I went to this event to cover the event for Mr. Mark Mills who has been a dear friend of mine for many years - so it was VERY hard to not be biased for my home team . I saw a lot of talented fighters here and I took a lot of pictures and met a lot of wonderful people. I was disappointed that my friends from Hilton Head SC - Team Psych Ward - were not in attendance. The Corbbrey brothers - Mushin and Beau - along with fighter Brandon Gay are among my favorite fighters to watch -- Where were you guys?????? We missed your crowd pleasing acrobatic aerial displays of skill. I also missed seeing the "solitary warrior" Chris Rodgers and his catch fighting team from Ashville NC. Your "nemesis" Lamonte Tyler was there - where were you Chris? Just kidding - I know it is all in fun between you two heavy weights, but always a joy to see you two pair off and stare each other down.
With over 104 competitors in attendance and most all of them competed gi and no-gi let me tell you this was one action packed, submission filled day. The referees made very good calls, even though they were exhausted by the end of the day. You guys did a wonderful job and your efforts are very much appreciated as we as competitors would not be able to compete were it not for your generous donation of time. Thank you from all of the competitors. Also, a BIG thanks to all the coaches and trainers that attended to support their fighters.
Team Alliance was there in full force showing their skills in no-gi as well as gi. These fighters were aggressive and skilled in the no-gi even though their passion is gi. They made a wonderful showing all day long and took quite a few trophies home with them. Headed up and coached by 2nd degree black belt instructor Professor Luis "Sucuri" Togno of Charlotte NC , he had fighters there from GA, SC, and NC. One very impressive young man trained by Professor Togno - I think he is 14 or 15 years old so watch out jiu jitsu world as this young man comes into his own --- is Stefan. Stefan trains in Charleston SC with Bob Mynatt who is under the direction of Professor Togno. Stefan moves like water and sticks like glue as his opponents found out that every way they moved he was one step ahead. He never seems flustered or unsure of himself - always confident and in total control, this young man has the world by the tail and we will be seeing a lot of him at future tournaments I am sure.
Another Alliance Fighter, fighting out of Charlotte NC, that always is a pleasure to watch is Larry Hodges. Larry has the heart of a lion and just LOVES to fight. He fought as a white belt but went up a skill level to fight so that he could get more fights. He also went up in weight divisions to give the heavy guys another fighter in their class. Larry doesn't care whether he wins or loses, ether he fights his skill level or higher, ether he fights his weight class or jumps in there with the heavy weights, he just LOVES TO FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!
A new comer on the scene, also fighting out of Alliance Charlotte is Renato Ghica. He has only been training a few months but has enthusiasm that is inspiring to us all. Renato jumped in there with a two time state wrestling champion and brought the gold home for Alliance Charlotte with a gi choke from the half guard.
Now to stop bragging on MY "family" of fighters, another team that was truly inspiring to watch was Team Tiger. Headed up by Eddie Camden of Atlanta Georgia and under the direction of Professor Pedro Sauer, this team was poetry in motion. The fighters were amazingly technical and definitely held up Professor Sauer's reputation of being Rickson's most technical black belt. These guys were patient as they worked their strategies and tapped their opponents one right after another all day long. One of Team Tiger's fighters that drew my attention was Omar Lira. This blue belt had about 10 fights or more today and he won all but one of his matches by submission. Gi or no-gi, it did not seem to matter to Omar. He had the most pleasant smile --- especially while tapping his opponent --- he seemed to thoroughly love the sport and is an extraordinary competitor. His submissions were technically beautiful to watch as he patiently set up his opponents so that they "walked" right into the place where he wanted them and then quicker than you could focus your eyes - the joint was locked and the opponent was tapping. I really enjoyed watching this fighter's skill.
The ladies came out with a vengeance as well. The ladies always use technique as opposed to strength, so their matches are always a joy to watch. Mark Mill's Team, Team Tiger, and Joe Hurst's team were represented here today by the ladies. We missed the ever present Tara. Tara was competing in Orlando at the NAGA event today. By the way, ladies, Leka Veira, a female black belt from California is scheduled for a seminar in Virginia Beach VA sometime in November. It would be an honor to meet a fellow female that has accomplished the measure of success that she has, so check back on this site as details will be available soon.
Mr. Casey Oxendine of TN brought more than 15 fighters for the event. True to form these guys are animals when it comes to fighting. They go for broke and put on a show. Extremely aggressive and active in the ring, their matches are some of the most active and exciting ones to watch. These guys have stamina beyond belief and they train hard core every day of the week. Casey's excitement coaching his fighters is as enjoying to watch as the fights themselves, in fact I THINK I miss more of the match because watching Casey coach is more fun than watching the fight. Casey has his own academy in TN and is a purple belt under Marco Ruas. Some of his fighters, like James Linic, are studying jiu jitsu under Carlos Machado in Dallas Texas. James is a very good and technical fighter (shown here doing his signature move of a flying arm bar).
Bian is another of Casey's fighters and though very new to the game, you would never believe it to watch him. He fights like a veteran. Speaking of veterans, of course Lamont Tyler of Team-ROC was there. With over 40 fights to his credit, I think he is the most experienced fighter in attendance today. Shown here - Bian and Lamonte - as the heavy's pair up and take it to the mat. (shown to left- Bian and Lamonte)
Another highlight of the day was having the great pleasure to meet black belt Daniel Moraes. He trains with Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Brazil and is here visiting with Joe Hurst of Concord NC. Daniel tapped all of his opponents with a achilles lock, and believe it or not --- he was generous enough to let me photograph this technique for my site. I hope to get the technique up very soon, so check the site http://www.thetechniques.net  often. This move of his was awesome and amazingly effective. It was so quick - if you blinked you missed it. His opponent knew when it happened though from the expressions of pain on their faces.
There were a lot of other fighters and other teams that I was unable to mention and unable to "chat" with during the day. I'll try to catch up with you guys next time. Everyone fought their hearts out and put on a great show. I can't wait until the next event. See you all there.
As a reminder ..... Professor Luis "Sucuri" Togno will be conducting an extensive jiu jitsu seminar this coming Saturday - Oct 26 at his SC Academy located at Ladson SC. For details see: http://www.sucuribjj.com  or http://www.thetechniques.net 
Also coming up Nov 15, 16 and 17 --- Jacare and Roberto Traven will be conducting a gi and no gi seminar: Friday night at Focused Fitness in Greenville SC, Saturday and Sunday at Professor Togno's academy located in Charlotte NC.