IBJJF JiuJitsu Con 2022
JJCon is an adult level IBJJF tournament held in conjunction with Masters Worlds in Las Vegas. This year, it qualifies as 2-star ranking tournament, putting it on par with American Nationals in terms of earning points for athletes’ rankings. For context, regular IBJJF opens are 1-star, Pans is 4-stars, and Worlds is 7-stars. Many athletes that we see competing regularly on the IBJJF circuit and hitting the grand slam tournaments also made an appearance at JJCon.
Submission is still queen.
Anyone who thinks IBJJF gi tournaments are boring and too focused on points should take a close look at the female JJCon matches, where the champions of every division from purple and black had an overall submission rate of 76 percent, or 25 subs out of 33 matches.
Just because there were a lot of submissions doesn’t mean that people were just spamming them left and right. The majority of submissions came from lapel chokes off of side control or mount, or armbars after stabilizing the pass and baiting the underhook. The main submission from guard was the triangle, but most still scored top position or back control before submitting.
Winners had dominant and tactical passing.
Overall we saw a few patterns from the athletes who were winning matches. First, passing seems to have overtaken guard, as there were very few matches where one athlete was unable to pass and both played a game of sweeps for who could be the last to sweep before time was up. At every level, we saw ladies who were able to overcome all forms of guard, pass, mount, take the back, and submit.
Second, especially at the purple belt level, passing happened in a very particular and tactical way. Several of the passes that changed the tone of the match happened right off the guard pull, where the standing athlete, anticipating the guard pull, gained dominant grips and passed in the first 30 seconds. The other powerful way athletes were able to pass were right off the sweep, where they would come up from an overhead or half guard sweep into a split leg or with cross grips on the pants. This negated the ability of the bottom player to impose their guard game, and often became the turning point of the match.
Unfortunately for whatever reason, many of the brown belt matches do not appear to be streamed on Flo, which is why I didn’t include them in my stats and why I won’t be reviewing any outstanding players here. However, there were plenty of excellent, dominant players in the purple and black divisions. Here are some of those athletes and what we can learn from them:
Shelby Murphy, purple belt light feather champion, is a two times world champion at purple belt who has been dominating her division in the past year. This weekend was no exception. Murphy used low, outside passing to gain her initial points, relentlessly attacking submissions once she settled. On bottom, Murphy was clinically used closed guard to threaten the triangle and single leg X to take the back and wrestle up. Gui Mendes promoted Murphy to brown belt after her finals match.
Valentina Lodi, purple belt light champion, has a very fast guard and used it this Friday primarily to sweep her opponents and come on top. She relied on low passing to force split legs, knee cut, and half guard, where she repeatedly scored until submitting three out of four opponents.
Heloysa Oliveira, purple belt middle and open weight champion, has been at the top of the middleweight division for the past year. She threw opponents by variations of hip throws and immediately blasted through each player’s guard. Oliveira is a very good example of what it means to get your grips and go. Every time an opponent stops moving, she punishes them for taking a breath. Oliveira took quadruple gold on Friday in gi, nogi, gi open weight, and nogi open weight.
Lyndsie Hauck, purple belt super heavy champion, is the most recent purple belt super heavy adult world champion. She had a very aggressive and effective takedown game, chaining judo and wrestling techniques, along with brutal and relentless passing. Like all good standup artists, her setups, gripping and taking out of balance were strong and continuous. She won her two JJCon matches by submission and then five more the same day to become the masters 2 super heavy champion at Masters Worlds and runner-up in the masters open weight division.
Jessa Khan, black belt light feather champion, had two fights and two submissions. In her finals match, she was able to capitalize off of two diving toe holds and take her opponent’s back, and submit via armbar.
Janaina Menezes, black belt light champion, had lightning fast transitions to leglock attacks in her two matches, which her opponents were forced to defend or concede the tap. Her finals match ended in less than one minute by kneebar.
Maria Malyjasiak, black belt heavy and open weight runner-up, went 2-1 in her Masters Worlds division just the day before, losing the finals by an advantage to 2021 black belt world champion Melissa Cueto. On Friday, she avenged her loss by submitting Cueto in their JJCon finals match by mounted americana. Malyjasiak displayed a very active de la riva guard and heavy, patient passing. At no point over the course of 6 recorded matches this weekend did we see Malyasiak in any bad position. She had an exhausting back and forth match with the number one ranked black belt in the world Gabrieli Pessenha, losing 2-2 by one advantage.
While there are plenty of young stars, the two over-30 competitors mentioned above, Hauck and Malyjasiak, had at least double the efforts and double the reward, cutting through their divisions decisively. Both had robust and sturdy games that held up consistently at a very high level.
While pulling guard will always be an option, standup is becoming increasingly popular even at the lower weight classes. We saw everyone from rooster weights to super heavy women have strong takedown exchanges. It was very clear at the adult IBJJF Worlds this June that anyone at any weight can have a strong judo and/or wrestling. Competitors unwilling to pull guard should be ready to tussle on their feet.
Many of the matches with these champions were one-sided. Most of them set the tone of their fights quickly, and even if their opponents recovered from bad positions, they were unable to score back. These women did not give space for their opponents to play their game even for a minute, and they never backed down from their own styles.
The gi is not dead! Like nogi, its level is rising and evolving. As always, if you know about any exciting women’s jiujitsu, let me know and I’ll see if I can cover it. A big thank you to the influx of subscribers this week. Your support and feedback is much appreciated.
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