Head instructor Chris Thring returned home from the 2012 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Irvine, CA last week with a gold medal in hand and a pocketful of memories he will cherish forever.
“Every prominent figure in the jiu-jitsu world was either competing, coaching or in attendance,” said Thring.
Thring won gold in the senior two featherweight purple-belt division. It was his first time competing at the Pans — a tournament that has grown from 250 competitors in 1995 to over 3,200 in 2012, a record-breaking event and the largest BJJ tournament ever held.
Thring plans on competing at the B.C. Provincial BJJ Championships in May and is contemplating a return to sunny California in June for the IBJJF World Championship. At 41 years of age, he says now is his time.
“I am old,” he said with a smile. “I know physically I am starting to slow down, but I still feel I have what it takes to compete at a high level, so over the next year or two I want to compete at some international high level tournaments.”
Thring added that Helio Gracie, a founder of BJJ, practiced well into his 80’s and that jiu-jitsu is a great sport for practitioners of any age.
“Although it is a contact sport, it’s relatively low-impact, so it is suitable for people of all ages. It’s definitely useful as a tool to promote longevity and delay the effects of aging,” he said.
He credits his training partners and students at Valley Jiu-Jitsu and Transcendent Combat Sports in Nelson along with his coaches Mario Deveault and Dave Rothwell from Gracie Barra Vernon, with getting him in the right physical and mental state of mind to have success at the tourney.
While he says the victory was satisfying, a greater sense of accomplishment comes from what he gets out of competition as a whole.
Thring runs children’s, adult and women-only classes at his club in downtown Castlegar. For more information on BJJ visit ibjjf.org and for information on BJJ in the Castlegar-area contact Chris at 250-365-3814, or visit valleyjiujitsu.ca