JT Baerwolf Carries the Easton Flag at the ADCC West Coast Trials
Coach JT, the head of Easton Training Center Arvada’s Jiu Jitsu program, knows that competing in the ADCC trials presents an opportunity to compete with the best grapplers around. That’s why he wanted to do it.
For those unfamiliar, ADCC, short for Abu Dhabi Combat Club, is known as the most prestigious competition in the submission grappling combat sports.
Unlike local tournaments or even IBJJF tournaments that can have a lot of casual competitors, everyone at the ADCC trials is trying to make it to the big show. Training for such an elite event is as difficult as competing in it.
On top of teaching multiple classes a day and taking care of a new baby, in the couple of months Coach had to prepare, he got sick twice and had life upended when his girlfriend’s car was stolen.
Despite this, he still managed to get plenty of rounds in with Professor Bugbee’s advanced class and made time to get to Professor Marshall’s class once a week in Denver. Coach JT also benefitted from the expertise of Colby Knapp, a blue belt, personal trainer and the owner of the Olde Towne Athlete. Colby designed an endurance program to make sure Coach JT had enough horsepower to make it through all the matches with enough in his tank; JT confirmed “gas was never a problem.”
JT knew he could always turn up his endurance in the back half of the match after his opponents had exhausted themselves. There was no way he’d lose a match for lack of conditioning.
ADCC West Coast Trials
To hit his highest success, JT went in with a strong command of the ruleset and the right mindset.
In one match, he knew he could pass his opponent’s guard with a knee cut; however, the first part of the match does not score any points. So, JT got himself back into his opponent’s guard a few seconds before the change to a points system, passed guard right away and immediately scored. Other times, it was necessary to adjust his mindset to get the win.
When competing against Ryan Loder, JT explains that Loder came out very aggressively, forcing him to think about how to engage. He chose to lay back on the mat like training with his students back in Arvada. It relaxed him in the moment and gave him the mental space to capture one of Loader’s repeated shoves to his advantage. JT won with a beautiful armlock.
JT knew competing against Jacob “the Hillbilly Hammer” Couch was going to be difficult, so he went into the match determined to make Couch respect his Jiu Jitsu. After the match, Couch complimented JT on his numerous tilt sweep attempts. Couch was impressed with JT’s Jiu Jitsu, and even made time to go through the match with him to identify some areas where he might improve.
Improving constantly comprises one of Jiu Jitsu’s main goals.
“I want to really focus of systemically escaping bad positions into immediate offense strategies,” says JT.
He wants this for his students too, and he works hard to develop reliable ways to escape from bad positions and into a winning situation.
The ADCC West Coast trials confirmed one thing for JT: he has everything necessary to hang with today’s elite grapplers. No doubt we’ll be seeing him at the next trials and on the podium soon.
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