Written By: Hector Silva
This past weekend on February the 12th and 13th the IBJJF held its second annual Houston Open at the University of St. Thomas. This was the first BJJ tournament of the year held in the Houston area and it started off the year with a BANG. The IBJJF ran a tight ship and strictly enforced all of its rules and regulations, even causing some grapplers to have to change their gi on the fly. This was also a very well organized tournament that seemed to flow well and run on schedule.
One advantage of the two day tournament was that it allowed black belts to coach their lower belts and then compete the next day. This lead to a substantial numbers of black belts being able to compete. In the end 3 teams stood out above the rest, with Gracie Barra taking the first place overall team trophy by a comfortable margin. Second place was awarded to Nova Uniao and third place to Lovato BJJ. A big shout out and congratulations are in order to the black belt open champion Alexandre Ceconi from Rillion Gracie’s and to the brown belt open champion Alliance’s own JJ Holmes
The tournament attracted competitors not only from all around Texas but from all around the nation. Fifty Fifty’s Grapplers Quest Ryan Hall traveled from Virginia to compete in the black belt lightweight division where he won first place. When asked why he came all the way from Virginia to compete he said “I guess I have been stuck at my gym teaching trying to get it off the ground, I’m really looking forward to competing more in the next year. I brought my students to make a habit of competition. Constant competition is the the key to success.”
Another Virginia native and a Tony Pasos student, Tareq Radi, told me he came down to, “…get more experience for the ultimate goal of becoming world champion.”
There was a high level of competition in every match, with very close nail bitters like the one Ryan hall was engaged in against Gracie Barras Bruno Rocha. The match ended tied 1-1 on advantage point and went to a referee decision, where Ryan pulled out the win.
Another standout was Nova Uniao’s Danielle Alvarez who took first place in the female featherweight blue belt after defeating Gracie Barra’s Katherine Osteen and won third place in the female blue belt division. The most impressive thing is she is only 16 years old competing and dominating in the adult divisions. When I approached her about her experience she told me, “I think it’s so much fun being a female teen competitor in the adult divisions. I learn so much from every tournament and match and I know when I step onto the mat I have nothing to lose. I’m so young in the sport and I have so much time to progress. I grow so much every time I compete whether I’m successful or not. I love competing and being out on the mat, it’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve experienced because young female competitors are very rare.”
The Houston Open proved to be one of the most stacked tournaments in the area with every black belt match having the possibility of going either way. When I asked Gracie Barra’s 7x Brazilian National Champion Alejandro Siqueira how this tournament compared to the ones in Brazil he responded, “In Brazil there are more black belts but at the same level. Everybody has good BJJ here in Texas!”
Siqueira won the black belt masters open division Sunday and his matches backed up his opinion on the competitors. Over all the tournament grew from last year and attracted a lot of attention from all around the country and will ultimately help Brazilian Jiu Jitsu grow here in Houston and in Texas.
Day 2 Pictures courtesy of:
You can log on to 2seeyourself.com to download these and more. There are close to 200 pictures from day 2 that are available for print or merchandise. Remember to support the photographers that bring you these great pictures!
Day 1 Pictures courtesy of: Ryan Brio