Tico Ojito Competes in FIGHT-2-Win Competition at UMBC

April 25, 2019

 

Ernesto “Tico” Ojito, long-time Shufu member and 2013 US Mens National Judo Champion at 55 kg, broke new ground in his first appearance at the Fight-2-Win event held last Saturday, April 20th at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Event Center in Catonsville, Maryland.

 

Fight-2-Win Promotions, based in Denver, Colorado, sponsors professional Brazilian Jiujiutsu (BJJ)/NOGI/Judo events throughout the country, bringing local, regional, and even nationally prominent competitors together for an evening of single one-on-one matches.

 

 

One of the defining characteristics of the Fight-2-Win events is the high-end production that the company brings, including intense, beat-heavy pre- and post-match music, sweeping white and multicolored floodlights, smoke-filled, back-lit entrances down a runway by each competitor for their match, and a large square mat competition area elevated five feet off the floor, without cage or rope obstructions (or protection).  The mat is illuminated by nearly 30 fixed floodlights on a large square perimeter frame high above the mat.

 

The audience on the surrounding arena floor area was scattered among many long tables, instead of a traditional set of concentric chairs facing the competition mat.

 

Among the 1500+ attendees were well-known Shufu members Monty Burton (College Park and NIH) with his son Kai, Brad Lewis (NIH), Kevin McNeely (Pure Performance), Eric Spears (College Park), Gerard Cadet (Washington Judo Club), and Sensei Song, also from College Park Judo.

Eric Spears and Kevin McNeely

Monty Burton and son Kai

Ojito, recently promoted to Yodan (4th degree black belt) and representing the Washington Judo Club, was one of the few judo competitors, and was matched against another judoka and former junior U.S. world team member, Nathan Kearney, of the Okuri Judo Club in Hurst, Texas, near Fort Worth.

 

Prior to the match, Ojito was enthusiastic about fighting again under “old-school” rules, without yukos, kokas, shidos, or waza-aris, and a return to the days of allowable leg-grab techniques.  The winner would be declared by choke or jointlock submission, or by two forceful throws onto the back.

Ojito and Kearney met each other on the mat well into the evening as the 37th out of a total of 42 matches.  They initially conducted their match according to standard judo positioning, gripfighting, throwing attempts, and newaza (groundwork).  Kearney scored first, with an attempt at morote gari, succeeding at hooking and pinning Tico’s left leg to his chest, standing quickly and lifting Tico high while grabbing his right arm, followed by what could be described as an utsuri goshi makikomi for a clear score.

 

Ojito then fought even more aggressively, and soon slipped rapidly under the standing Kearney with a smooth, tight jujigatame, looking for the submission.  But Kearney lifted him up, slamming Tico down on his back for what would have been a match-ending penalty (hansokumake) against Kearney under regulation judo rules, but was a second, winning score by Fight-2-Win rules.

 

Afterwards, Ojito explained that perhaps he had had not adequately anticipated defending against the years-long prohibition against leg grabs in regulation judo, and that Kearney had brought a good game plan including moves such as shooting for the legs. Tico also mentioned that he had never been lifted into the air while applying a jujigatame from below a standing opponent, since it was a clear violation in regulation-rules judo.

 

But he also said that he was happy to participate, was willing to do it again, and that the entire event was very exciting to watch.  His preparation for the next match will include being more comfortable near the unprotected edge of a raised mat, and not being distracted by a referee who occasionally pushed the competitors away from the edge while they were actively fighting.

 

Tico then thanked everybody from the Shufu family who came out to support him, and that it was a great event overall.  He then said that he would be going “back to the lab” and would come back stronger.  Finally he mentioned that there was already the possibility of a rematch with Kearney in the future.

 

Chuck Medani

 

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