First off, Jimmy isn't just a remarkable BJJ competitor, he's a generous and thoughtful person who used his trip to Pans as an opportunity to make the world around him better by competing for charity. For the second year in a row, his I LOVE DADS fundraisers have raised money and awareness for the Nanaimo Men's Resource Center.
Last year Jimmy fell short of his ultimate goal, making it to the quarterfinals with a spectacular triangle victory, but falling by 2 points to an opponent with a good deep half guard, who managed to shut down Jimmy's closed guard offense after sweeping. Defeat can contain within it the seeds of future victory however, and upon their return to Nanaimo, Jimmy and our head instructor set about expanding his game to ensure he would have the tools to prevail should he find himself in the same situations again.
The first indicator their work was paying off came in October, when Jimmy secured Island Top Team's first ever gold at an IBJJF event, taking his purple belt division at the Seattle Open, with a pair of dominant wins that showcased a new approach. No longer reliant on the closed guard, victory came by virtue of dynamic takedowns, mobile passing, with slick finishes from the mount and back. Still, one position was an achilles' heel in training, the shin shield half guard! Working with his main training partners, the answer to this position became part of a confident arsenal that Jimmy armed himself with in the months leading up to March 13.
The first match that day went exactly according to plan, takedown, pass, take the back. With an opponent holding on for dear life and not interested in escaping, Jimmy made the wise choice not to burn his grips out going for the finish and took the easy victory.
That, however, was the end of the easy road for our boy, as he would have to scratch and claw for everything from that point on. His next match saw a stalemate until less than 20 seconds remained, and a last second guard pass propelled him into the semis.
The worst he could leave with now was bronze, and Professor Rob breathed a huge sigh of relief because medalling on this stage would've been an impressive enough achievement for a small BJJ club from Nanaimo, but as he gathered himself in the bull pen, Jimmy performed his breathing exercises and repeated his mantra "2 more wins for gold", eyes on the task ahead. Settling for less than his best was one of the things Jimmy has been working to overcome, and through Jiu-Jitsu, we can all find an avenue to creat our best selves.
In his third match Jimmy found jimself in a position to rest on the crutch of "good enough", when he found himself fending off a near guard pass in the first half of the match. Down an advantage with 2 minutes left, Jimmy went for a guard jump to guillotine and managed to net an advantage of his own with the attempt. The match ended up back on the feet shortly thereafter and Jimmy hit a beautiful sumi gaeshi throw, which scored him 2 points... until the ref decided he didn't feel like awarding points for properly executed throws (which IBJJF has made a habit of with ITT competitors) and rescinded the points to award an advantage. Undaunted, Jimmy spun to his opponent's back in the final seconds to lock the victory away.
While Jimmy was recovering in the bull pen between matches, Professor Rob was observing the rest of the division, scouting the potential opponents, and witnessing one rise above the field, dominating with crisp technique and sheer physicality. Returning to his athlete, who sat cross legged, visualizing, focusing, and breathing his mantra "one more win for gold", Rob knelt down and gave him the following assessment: "Jimmy, we're gonna have to change the gameplan, you're not taking this guy down, he's too strong, and too good standing, jump guard, and see if you can hit him with your arm drag to pendulum sweep". And Jimmy did exactly that. But instead of getting 2 points of the sweep and 4 for the mount, the ref waited until Jimmy's opponent bench pressed him off, and didn't award the points even though he'd held the position for twice the amount of time the rules require. Then disaster struck! His opponent picked Jimmy up and slammed him, leaving him gasping for air and clutching his ribs. the medics were called out and the ref prepapred to call the match off. Slamming is illegal, but instead of a DQ, the ref was insisting Jimmy had screamed in surrender. After a couple of minutes of unbelievable tension, Jimmy managed to convince the medics he was fine, and the ref accepted that he'd just had the wind knocked out of him and permitted the match to resume, with the score tied 2-2.
With a near sweep and almost back take, Island Top Team's lone competitor was awarded an advantage that gave him the victory by the narrowest of margins, but there was nothing infinitescimal about the courage, determination, and force of will that Jimmy summoned that day to claim gold. Rushing off the mats, Jimmy nearly knocked the barrier over as he hugged Rob, who was in tears, while, up in the stands, one of our BJJ brothers from Pacific Top Team, Matt Kwan, was leaning over the railing, pointing at the two men alternately, screaming "you're the man! you're the fucking man!".
Yeah, Jimmy, you are!