Hi Everyone !! This last month has been a lot of fun at the Den and we have plenty to share. In this months newsletter I will be sharing just what has been going on at the Den , future plans and events along with some things we are working on as a program to continuously improve. We have a ton of new members at the Lions Den and before getting into that other stuff just want to thank all of our new members for trying us out and becoming part of the family. I am really excited for what the future holds as the more members we have the better classes are and the more fun events we are able to hold.
This last month we spent a lot of time preparing our BJJ students for the NAGA tournament held in Wildwood NJ. NAGA is a series of tournaments held worldwide throughout the year. They are the largest organization putting on tournaments in Jiu Jitsu and have been doing it the past 28 years. They come to Albany twice a year in which we normally compete as a team and have come in 1'st place as a team the last 2 times we have entered. It's a lot of fun as our students get to test themselves against the other local competition as well as some that travel far and wide to compete. We always do very well. Due to Covid , we have been unable to compete in NY these past 18 months so this time we thought we would test our luck in Wildwood NJ. This is the largest annual tournament location NAGA holds annually bringing in thousands of competitors . Over 150 teams competed in this tournament and the area itself is a hotbed for grappling with the NYC , NJ and PA areas having some of the best schools traditionally through the years and also are big areas for wrestling. I knew the competition would be tough. What we did'nt plan for , is that the tournament ended up being the largest NAGA held in 28 years!!! Our students fought well and as a team we finished in 10'th place out of 108 teams for kids & teenagers and we finished in 22'nd place out of 148 teams in the adult Divisions . We had 7 of our 21 kids take 1st place as well as 3 of our 6 adult students . Almost everyone medaled which is not easy when some of them were in brackets of up to 28 people . Beings we traveled over 4 hours , what we did was incredible individually and as a team. I saw maybe 3-4 other local competitors here combined from all the other schools locally.
Kaitlin may have pulled off the most fun win of the tournament. She had her very first match ever versus the daughter of Renzo Gracie. She was nervous enough as it was her first tournament but to then be matched up against the daughter of a legend only added to it. She ended up pulling out the win and coming in 1st in no gi. She also had an awesome finish via triangle choke in her next match and was fun to watch. Her son Dylan also picked up his first win the day before. All of our adult competitors pulled out wins at the event which was very impressive beings some of them had only weeks of experience under their belt or maybe a few months . Win or lose what was good to see was that every one of our students whether adult of youth were in every match . Some of these brackets had competitors who clearly were sandbagging . (sandbagging ) a term used when a competitor enters a division with a much lower experience or competitive level than they should be at). Our other adults did awesome as well . Brad medaled in both Divisions he entered as did Colin . Colin and A.J were both in huge divisions and both guys came home with medals with Colin even taking 1st place in the Gi . Kevin also fought hard and brought home a medal and Lucas after only a few months on the mat came down and picked up his first win in competition .
Our kids killed it too!! Tony , Gabe and Aiden all battled in the teen divisions , picked up wins and were in every match. Aiden and Tony took 1st place in their divisions. In our kids divisions we had Bella and Brody both in the expert divisions taking on the top kids on the east coast and some who traveled in from the west. They both fought hard and were in every match showing that they belong competing with the best and are at that level. In intermediate we had Cash ,Kahlen, Quinn, Owen , Parker, Adriel and Allie. Quinn and Parker both took 1st place here and Quinn and Allie were actually in the finals against each other after cleaning out their division. In beginner we had Olivia, Eva , Nate , Peter , Zoe , Carmen , Jaden and Malaki . Olivia , Carmen , Zoe and Peter all took 1st place with the rest medalling . In Novice we had Ella who unfortunately hurt her foot in her 1st match and could not continue and Dylan who got his 1st win in competition. Man , that kid has come a long way. The local Albany Naga is an absolute cake walk in comparison to this tournament and everyone should be proud!!!
Aside from the Naga tournament itself last weekend we all had a great time together down in Wildwood NJ. We had a large group of us who met on the beach on Friday , the day before. The kids played all day on the beach and most of us went back to the pool after. I have to admit , the kids were a little flat the next day starring the tournament but pulled through. As a coach I had to take a minute and think if this is something I would change in the future however after giving it some thought, I think the team building that day added , camaraderie shared amongst our families and fun the kids had outweigh anything that it took away from performance . We had dinner together that evening and following the kids tournament we all did the boardwalk together Saturday night. It was a fun weekend and many members and families asked if we could do this every year. This is an annual tournament and yes we absolutely can and are planning to do it again next year. The only thing I would change is I would plan it earlier so we can all stay at the same hotel. Next year we are planning to stay at the Adventurer hotel located right at the end of the boardwalk for anyone looking to plan ahead.
Other upcoming tournaments :
Naga - Springfield mass - sept 18
members , shoot me a message if you plan to participate in this one. about 45 mins away.
Womens only BJJ !!!
This Saturday 8/7/21 will be the 1st day of our new Womens only program . This is something we are very excited about. Most schools only have 3-4 women in their entire program and we now have 15 so it is time to give the ladies their own time on the mat. We are hoping to eventually add another day of the week as this continues to grow.
Upcoming Seminars : UFC Star Hurricane Shane Burgos will be with us on August 11'th!! Shane is one of the top young up and coming fighters in the UFC right now. Don't miss out on this one!! We have spots open and he is doing seminars for Kids grappling , adult grappling , mixed striking and MMA .
That is all for this month. Next month we should have more news on our next seminar , upcoming wrestling tournaments which are coming up, a fight announcement for our MMA fighters heading into competition plus the possibility of another class added to our schedule . stay tuned !!