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COPA DE MARIANAS 2024 EDITION

BJJ series kicks off new season

By Paradis Jolie Fejerang

The Copa de Marianas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament has begun the series of jiu-jitsu tournaments for the year at the UOG Calvo Field House. This year saw Atos with a near clean team victory of golds in every category, placing second only in Masters Overall to the championing Purebred team.

Being the first of the Marianas Open events, the tournament is always a good place for young athletes to get excited for the new year of training and more experienced ones to get a start on their new goals in the sport.

Two very young gold medalists of the competition, Naia Duenas and Tiago Sarmiento Weakley, shared their enthusiastic insight on how taking part in the Marianas Open tournaments is something they both look forward to and as budding young Weakley put it, “gives [us] the chance to share jiu jitsu with kids I’ve never met before.”

Although only seven years old, Weakley has been training since he was four and is now able to say he has completed competing in four Marianas Open tournaments. Representing Heights Academy Guam and competing in the Male Gray Youth Light Feather category for both No-Gi and Gi, Weakley was able to secure two golds for the Heights’ kids team. Alongside his sentimental notion about how grateful he is for Copa de Marianas, Weakley beamed about his Heights family and the respect and love he feels throughout his jiu jitsu journey. 

As another spritely competitor, Duenas, of Purebred Jiu Jitsu Guam, won two gold medals for the day in both the No-Gi and Gi competitions. Duenas, who has been in the sport for about two years, competed in her category of Female Gray Youth Light Feather during the No-Gi section, but was lacking in competitors for that same division when it came to the Gi tournament. With the advisement of her parents and coaches, Duenas seized the opportunity to bump up and participate in the Female Gray Pre Teen Rooster so that she could have some more experience and showed to be very happy in the decision as she went home with two gold medals that she worked hard for. Similarly to Weakley’s endearing note on jiu jitsu, Duenas shared that she has had a lot of fun at the Copa de Marianas and that even though “training is a little bit hard, [she] really like[s] jiu-jitsu.”

As for a representative from the Adults, Sebastian Riley shares how he was encouraged to take part in the tournament by his mentors at Atos Jiu-Jitsu Guam and, though initially reluctant, is more than appreciative for the push that led him to his gold in the No-Gi tournament.

Comparing No-Gi and Gi, as a competitor in the Male White Adult Feather division for both tournaments during Copa de Marianas but medalist for only No-Gi, Riley explains that with a wrestling background, but continuously growing admiration for the sport of jiu-jitsu, he is finding No-Gi to be a lot more enjoyable and has found the enjoyment shows through in his competing at Copa de Marianas. “Gi is a little bit more tedious…there’re grips that you have to work on and your opponent can make that you need to worry about,” he explains. Regardless of the results, the Copa de Marianas was a worthwhile learning experience, especially for athletes such as himself with only about a year of experience.

The prizes for the winners include varying tickets awarded per placement. The first place adult team winners will receive two tickers each, whilst second and third will receive one. The kids teams will include the same package plus an additional ticket per parent for each winner of the team. For female and masters teams, each placement will receive one ticket. Lastly, both black and brown belt absolute gold and silver medalists will be awarded one ticket each.

As The Marianas Open events make their scheduled way through Asia, winning athletes from those Marianas Pro events will be rewarded with the chance to win a trip to Guam to compete in the 2024 Marianas Open International Tournament that will take place in October.

The next event in the series, Marianas Pro Japan is scheduled to take place on March 9 followed by Marianas Pro Manila from April 20 to 21.

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