Royler Gracie loves to say that everyone who trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) “should compete at least once.” Leo Dalla, known to most simply as “Dalla”, is a fifth-degree black belt who also loves competition and the lessons it teaches. Competition allows those of us who train to see where we really stand against our peers and teaches us what we need to do to get better. On February 22, Dalla hosted an in-house tournament at his school (Premier Fight Center) in Woodbridge and invited all of the “Big Brothers” affiliates to come be a part of it.
The Big Brothers competition team encompasses schools from all over the northern Virginia area, including Vanguard Gym (Doug Esposito), KOA Team (Kelly Grissom), Manassas MMA (Dave Trader), and The Lab (Chad LeBrun), all of whom received their black belts from Dalla. Andrew Prickett of Valley BJJ brought a team of competitors as well. Not to be left out is Pentagon MMA, and their coach Isaac July, a Dalla brown belt who is one of the area’s strongest competitors. Each of these schools brought competitors ranging from white belts to purple belts.
This was an excellent opportunity for these students to test themselves and make new friends in the process. Head referee Kelly Grissom started off the day by making it clear that while this was a competition, we are all one team and to remember that during the heat of battle. And, oh yes, there were plenty of battles on the day.
The blue belts started off the competition. Highlighted matches include Malik from KOA Team facing off against Fernando from Dalla’s school in a battle of up and comers. Malik got the better of the matchup, but both showed that they have bright futures in competition ahead of them. Jaron from KOA Team also put on a strong performance, submitting many of his opponents.
One of the best battles of the day occurred in the purple belt open division, where Damian from Manassas MMA faced Kevin from The Lab. Kevin has a very active game that even the toughest (and biggest) Big Brothers express admiration for. Damian hit a signature takedown to start off the match but had trouble working a pass. Kevin continued to work from the bottom and, with time running out, hit a beautiful armbar during a transition that forced Damian to tap. Great match from two great competitors.
One of the more interesting subplots of the day was how students showed the grappling games of their instructors. KOA Team’s grapplers showed dominant top position skills in the manner of Coach Kelly. Pentagon’s grapplers went hard after the takedowns in the manner of Coach Isaac, who was very vocal in coaching and cheering his charges on to victory. It is a great testament to the caliber of the individual who coaches every bit as hard as he competes himself, as Coach Isaac does.
It was a great day to be a member of the Big Brother competition team. All of the competitors got a chance to test their skills learned a little something about themselves. The coaches got a chance to see how much their students have learned and appreciate what the other coaches on the team are doing with their own students. Congratulations to everyone who competed, regardless of how your matches ended. Thanks to all those who helped to make this event a success; especially Master Dalla, who is the rallying point for bringing all of us together.