This year makes 10 YEARS since we started organizing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments in Nicaragua! While this sounds like a mere accomplishment in sport, bring and building a sport to a country is means of bring essentially a new industry to a country which builds businesses, creates jobs, and becomes a vehicle to foster national identity. Our first tournament had around 20 competitors from three schools from two cities. Fast forward, and we now have 15 schools with over 150 competitors from 7 cities battling it out over 2 days. We have also hosted international competitions there with representatives from over 10 countries from Canada to Panama coming to prove their skills. We have also since seen Nicaraguan athletes who started at our events who have competed in international events including a number IBJJF international tournaments, where in one of which our first youth champion would take bronze as an adult brown belt at the Houston Open. These events have also led to a broader network throughout Central America to realize other humanitarian projects with agriculture, medicine, and aviation that we are working on at the moment. There is something very satisfying to see people triumph, and for us to work together to continue growing this sport through all of the ups and downs of changing conditions in Central America and the Pandemic. Even still, we are breaking new ground this coming December as we will host the Central American Jiu Jitsu Championship in a new country, El Salvador, seeking to replicate our successes in Nicaragua there. So far, we have people who have signed up from 7 countries!
As for our own jiu jitsu academy in Nicaragua, Alfa y Omega MMA, they really showed their grit and merit in this last tournament. They just fell short of taking home the best team award (won by the school of the aforementioned bronze medalist, our first youth champion, now a black belt), but they did have the highest overall medal count with 29 medals over two days! Not bad for a group of kids from the barrio. We are very proud of them as the school is led by one of our first youth students and his wife, Steven and Stacy Tercero. We started working with Steven when he was 14. He is now 25, and he and his wife run the school as a business with two other small businesses to support themselves while still offer scholarships to kids and adults from the streets to train for free. The two of them have won a combined total of 28 fights and have fought for titles in 3 countries. Steven is getting ready to fight in Mexico in September on his way to accomplishing his dream of fighting in the UFC representing Nicaragua. They are the proof of the case for building sustainable leadership for community development, and we hope to continue fostering and cultivating leadership across Central America through these events and through our programs. Be on the lookout for big news out of El Salvador in December, and if you train BJJ or MMA and want to support our work like this and in other parts of the world like Africa or in inner cities in the U.S., consider becoming a monthly donor or planning a week-long training camp at one of our sites!