Fourteen hundred competitors traveled from all over the world to compete in the Jiu Jitsu competition, said Alex Ross, the owner of SCMBJJ. This was the tournament’s first year back in Santa Cruz after a number of years in San Jose. It originated in Santa Cruz, Ross said.
Austin Twohig, Colin Manning, Eric Manning, Lilian Busnardo, Matt Jones, Dimitris Tauriac, Matt Vollers, Jasmine Wallace, Travis Niderost, and Tiana Isles competed from Santa Cruz Mountain Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and three won gold.
Eric Manning received gold in the senior three medium heavy division, Jones in the senior two medium heavy division, and Niderost in the master white belt light weight division.
“It's easy to go, hard to win," Ross said. "I tell my guys, I don't want them to be happy that they went.”
Ross, a brown belt, also competed and took home the gold in the masters’ super heavy weight division defeating brown belt Konstantin Skachkov of Heroes Martial Arts of San Jose.
"I don't want people to come to my town and win," Ross said. "I thought it was a great showing for Santa Cruz as a whole. I love it when locals step up and defend our U.S. Open medals."
Ross relates their success to the hard work his students demonstrate every practice. He compares Jiu Jitsu to going to school or having a job and said that if you show up, be prepared and work hard, then you will achieve success.
He said Jiu Jitsu is based on intuitiveness and intelligence to pin your opponent.
"I feel like I offer something different," he said of his studio. "Friendship, family and acceptance creates a really good learning environment."
Before the U.S. Open, Ross competed in the Las Vegas Open where he won gold.
He stresses that winning is not the most important thing however, but that people learn just as much from losing and that they should constantly seek out people who are better than them.
Ross trains by seeking out other Jiu Jitsu fighters ranked higher than he is. He trains with black belts Raul Castillo, Garth Taylor and Clement Shields.
"To be the best, you have to beat the best,” Ross said.