Mike Bushby said past Jiu-Jitsu tournaments would tend to be point-based competitions, similar to wrestling; these practitioners of the Brazilian martial arts and combat sport would be given points for executing a take down, putting the other person on his or her back and getting into a specific position, as well as other methods. But tournaments like Submission Challenge are a little bit different.
Taking place at 8 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 26) at Four Seasons Health Club, the Sioux City Challenge is hosted by One Combat Academy. Bushby serves as the mixed martial arts organization’s Jiu-Jitsu coach and will help referee the upcoming tournament. No points will be awarded in this submission-only competition. It’s win or lose.
“If you make them tap out, you win; if they tap you out, you lose,” said Bushby.
Challengers will face-off against each other using ground work, joint locks and grappling techniques to force their opponents to say “uncle.” That’s Jiu-Jitsu in a nutshell. Bushby said tournaments like this are a safe way to practice these Jiu-Jitsu techniques in a very safe way.
And compared to MMA bouts, the Submission Challenge “fights” are more focused in their execution and prose of Jiu-Jitsu. That means no pre-fight stare down between two opponents and no striking.
“It’s basically just MMA without punches or kicks or elbows,” said Bushby. “Everything that you see during MMA on the ground -- all the posturing and trying to get a better position to get a hold of somebody’s arm or leg for an arm bar or a choke -- we do all that stuff. But we just don’t get hit in the face while we do it.”
Weight class may not be as big of an issue in Jiu-Jitsu either. The martial art revels in this “David and Goliath” ideal where a smaller person can take down a much larger opponent with ease. It’s all about the technique. Bushby’s very first MMA fight ended in a similar fashion.
It was during the Iowa’s “Old West” era of MMA. Fights weren’t nearly as regulated or organized. And just about anyone was allowed to fight if they felt like it -- it was a lawless time. Bushby was coaxed by his friends to sign up for a fight at a bar. A reluctant Bushby was pitted against a “big ol’ cowboy with a big ol’ metal belt buckle.” Bushby’s training came in handy; he ended the fight with a submission, and the cowboy walked away with a broken arm.
“To this day I just feel terrible about it,” he said. “I think I’ve learned a lot and I think that gentleman knows nowadays what an arm bar is. That was the first time I realized the power of what I was doing.”
He was playing with fire. From that day forth, Bushby made sure he was in control and had a good handle on what he was doing in any kind of combat sport. And he certainly has a grip on the Submission Challenge and has worked hard to involve a lot of local businesses to take part in “the first Jiu-Jitsu tournament to ever happen in Sioux City.”
With numerous vendors and sponsors at One Combat Academy’s disposal, competitors will likely feel a bit pampered with Eat Fit Go selling healthy food and snacks, designated warm-up areas and readily available amenities provided by Four Seasons Health Club. Bushby and One Combat Academy want to go all out, and for good reason.
“I’m looking for this to be a repeating event,” said Bushby.
The Weekender spoke to Bushby about the upcoming Submission Challenge:
What does this event mean for One Combat Academy?
Bushby: We’ve been working so hard to grow our sport in the area. It’s so hard to grow and perfect our skills and be able to show our stuff right here in our hometown and our home gym. For myself and my team, that is a huge motivator. Our practices are intense right now. We’re working our tails off because we want to show how good we are and we want to show why we put in all these long hours and everything else and show that it’s worth it.
What are submission fights like?
Bushby: Just like wrestling, we all start out standing up and work for take downs and things like that. But the matches are pretty varied because of the styles of Jiu-Jitsu. The thing in the MMA community is “styles make fights.” And so if you got a guy that likes to really just put a lot of pressure on you and grind you down into a nub, he’s going to take a slower pace in the fight.
How would you go about your round if you were competing?
Bushby: I tend to be a pretty aggressive guy. If I can tap you out in five seconds that’s my ideal match. Then I have all this great energy for my next one. So I tend to be on the hunt for that tap out from the time that I start, whereas some people really want to get to the best position. They’ll be real meticulous and take their time about doing that. No two matches are ever the same.
Do matches last a long time or are they fairly short?
Bushby: I’ve seen matches go around for a long time and go into overtime rounds or double-overtime rounds. It will come down to just the bitter end. It’s a lot of fun to watch. And we are selling spectator passes at the event so people can come out and watch and get an idea of what it’s like.
How many rounds would the champion of this competition have completed?
Bushby: It kind of varies by how many brackets we have and stuff. A lot of people enter multiple divisions. Some of the divisions you’ll have the traditional judo or Jiu-Jitsu uniform. Some divisions don’t have to wear that. Already, that’s two divisions we’re talking about. Some guys will fight in the adult, 18-and-up [division] and then also fight in the masters division and get some matches with guys my own age. And I can also choose to fight in the absolute division where everybody is the same rank is me but it’s whatever-size. Weight classes are out the door. Those are really super interesting matches.
Are there prizes at the end?
Bushby: Yeah! Individual division winners get medals and if you win one of the big, absolute brackets. And there are also MMA-style belts.
What are you looking forward to most about this competition?
Bushby: It is a ton of work behind the scenes. I really have this moment in my head where I’m going to be standing on the mat watching my team put their effort out there and I’m going to have this “proud papa” moment. Just to be able to see it happen and realize I had a part in bringing it to town – I want to stand there at look my success unfold.