After the IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championship in Long Beach, Coach Brian Carlsen stayed on in California for another week in order to compete in an invitational tournament on Sunday, June 8th. The Dream Jiu Jitsu Baddest Brown competition took place at the New Breed Academy in Santa Fe Springs, CA. Thirty-one brown belts participated in this single-elimination, submission-only competition, and Brian came out on top, winning all five of his matches, and brining home $1000 in prize money.
In a submission-only match, there are no points, and no time limit. The match continues until one of the competitors taps out. The tournament included both gi and no-gi matches, but it was unique in that competitors did not know which type of match they would have until just before it began. A coin flip determined whether or not they would fight in a gi. All of Brian’s matches ended up being no-gi. The slippery, sweaty nature of long no-gi matches makes it more difficult to execute arm bars and triangles, so Brian focused his energies on other types of submissions.
This was Brian’s first time participating in a submission-only tournament. Though he was initially nervous about a higher risk of injury due to competitors’ incentive to go hard and finish quickly, once things got started, he was impressed by the level of control everyone exhibited. Even better, he found his Jiu Jitsu game to be especially well-suited to this unusual format. Brian does best in longer matches, and is often able to get the better of his opponents when he can draw out the roll. He had fun playing to this strength, and his strategy served him especially well in his third match.
He was fighting Sebastian Brosche, who had taken third at Worlds the previous weekend. Having seen some of Brosche’s matches, Brian knew he was a tough competitor–both mentally and physically–so he went into the match planning to draw it out and wear Brosche down. It was a tough match. As predicted, Brosche was a very capable opponent, and was able to get Brian into some bad positions. However, after a grueling 50 minutes, there was a scramble, and Brian managed to submit Brosche by knee bar. Brian was pleased that his strategy had been effective against his big-name opponent. Reflecting on the match, Brian thought of a Mike Tyson quote, “‘Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.’ To be able to go into it and stick with that plan and have it work out is really cool.”
The small venue and limited number of competitors lent an intimate air to the tournament, and Brian was glad to see familiar faces, including some friends from the Grappling Fight Team (GFT) in Brazil, who he’d trained with last year. He didn’t have a coach with him, and he was grateful to have GFT head coach Theodoro Canal there to talk him through some of his matches. He was also happy to have Easton Training Center teammate Jennifer Perez present, working the event and cheering him on in all his matches.
Overall, Brian was very impressed by the tournament, and the efficiency with which it was run. The event coordinators were helpful and accomodating. If you’ve ever participated in a tournament, you’re probably familiar with the long frustrating waits that tend to be characteristic of these events. However, at the Dream Jiu Jitsu tournament, the matches were on schedule, and well organized. There was impressive media set-up as well, with pre- and post-match interviews being filmed with all the competitors, and photographers and videographers on the mats. Brian even had the opportunity to do a podcast with Raf Esparza of Verbal Tap. Check it out on iTunes, and hear Brian’s thoughts on where the sport is going, the submission-only format, and how to “break through” in Jiu Jitsu.
Brian is back in Boulder now, feeling happy with his performance, grateful for the experience, and validated in his hard work and persistent training. He felt well prepared for this competition, and his advice for others interested in taking part in this kind of tournament is to take part in Easton Training Center’s tournament training camp. The program includes training in both short-interval matches and 25-minute grudge matches, giving competitors a breadth of experience and skills. He also recommends training both with and without a gi, in order to be prepared for any eventuality. Brian would like to thank Connection Rio and Dr. Evan Katz of Katz Chiropractic for their help in getting him into top condition for this competition.
What’s next for Brian? This summer he’ll be traveling to China to take part in a hacking competition, repurposing and making modifications to hardware and software with some of the field’s best and brightest. When you see him around ETC Boulder, be sure to congratulate him on his big win!