Pan Am Diary Part 4
Saturday, March 26
Wake up and cross the street to get doughnuts. I ensure to sample each of the doughnut food groups: Bavarian Cream, Raspberry Jelly, and Apple Fritter. Sometimes after I drop my son off at school I go grocery shopping. They are always putting out the new doughnuts at that time and it was hard to ignore them while I was on the diet. The wait was worth it.
We hit the beach and decide if we have to go in the water we should warm up first, a perfect excuse for an impromptu beach jiu-jitsu tournament. I get a face full of sand in the first match as I shoot and get sprawled on. After working up a good sweat we charge into the Pacific Ocean. It was cold.
Off to the Bren Events Center to watch our last teammate compete.
Brazilian Barbeque and Acai for lunch.
The biggest surprise of the day for me. The woman’s black belt absolute division totally stole the show. I saw the best highlight reel moment of the entire tournament, a flying armbar in 14 seconds. Gabrielle Garcia was also an absolute must watch. Her presence completely dominated the entire mat. There were also some good men’s senior black belt matches, but the woman would not be ignored their matches were fast, technical, and exciting.
My first ever In-and-Out burger. I had the double double animal style with fries and a chocolate shake. An hour later I tasted it for the last time.
Sunday, March 27
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Slow morning, got some breakfast had a few rolls on the mat, cleaned and packed.
We arrive to watch the final day of competition. The brown belts competing immediately blew me away. There is a huge and obvious jump in athleticism and skill from purple to brown.
Black belt finals start. The women once again steal the show. The most intense match of the tournament takes place between Gabrielle Garcia and Grace Barra brown belt Tammy Griego. Garcia charges Griego, who is half Garcia’s size, and Griego ends up on top earning two takedown points. Griego plays a smart defensive strategy maintaining the lead until the last couple minutes when Garcia pulls guard and gets sweep points tying the match and riding out the win on advantages. This was by far the loudest match of the weekend as Alliance and Gracie Barra exchanged dueling chants and the rest of the crowd oohed and ahhed at the close fought david and goliath match. The loudness of the supporters and the intensity of this match rivaled even the UFC events I have attended.
Watched the lower weight men’s black belt finals. All good matches, but none of them compared to the women’s divisions for entertainment value. After Andre Galvao won his division we had to leave early to catch a taxi to the airport. I score a final Brazilian barbeque and acai on the way out.
Celebrities we saw over the weekend: Xande Ribeiro, Andre Galvao, Lucas Leite, Gabrielle Garcia, Hillary Williams, Megaton Dias, Rafael Mendes, Rodolfo Viera, Braga Neto, a couple UFC fighter, and countless others. If you want a chance to rub shoulders with some BJJ heroes you can’t miss them at Pan Ams.
Despite the cost and the hard training, attending Pan Ams is definitely worth it for all BJJ practitioners. We got to meet all sorts of people and watch the best in the world compete. We also trained hard, and while it was miserable at times, our games improved by leaps and bounds. I recommend it for everyone.