June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Grapplers to converge in Medina for regional competition

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not just a martial art, it’s also a competitive sport and means of self-defense.

“It’s definitely the most effective form of self-defense,” said Dustin Ware, director of the American Grappling Challenge, which is bringing a tournament to Medina for the third time this Saturday.

Photo courtesy of American Grappling Challenge

The tournament being held at Medina High School will include practitioners of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling, sports that do not involve any striking, Ware said.

He said he started the American Grappling Challenge to provide an inexpensive forum for local grapplers to show off their skills in combat.

“There’s guys right here in our own backyard,” said Ware, who owns the Ohio Combat Sports Academy in the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg.

“They just needed an avenue and a platform to put their skills to the test.”

The American Grappling Challenge primarily hosts tournaments in Ohio, but has branched out to other states. To reflect this, the organization changed its name this year from the Ohio Grappling Challenge.

Competitors are coming from seven other states: West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York.

Medina’s Evolve Ohio, owned by John Cook, will bring competitors. Teams from martial arts schools across Northeast Ohio also will compete, including Cleveland Brasa, Gracie Humaita Cleveland, Sheffield Village BJJ and Rio Pro BJJ in Westlake.

There will be child, teen and adult competitions. The child competitions begin at 10 a.m. and the adult competitions begin at noon. Ware said competitors range in age from 8 to 57.

There also will be eight competitors in a brown belt invitational. Brown belt is the rank below black belt.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.