PROF. TORRES WINS ADCC GOLD
By: Heather Raferty
Last weekend, New York native and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Jonathan “JT” Torres fought his way to gold at one of the most prestigious grappling tournaments in the world.
Torres participated in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) World Championships, held this year in Espoo, Finland, September 22-24.
Considered by many as the Olympics of submission grappling, the ADCC World Championship event was created in 1998 by UAE Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and is held every two years.
Featuring the world’s top athletes in the disciplines of jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo, sambo, shooto, and mixed martial arts, its participants must either qualify in highly competitive regional events held around the world, or be invited by the organizing body, based on the athlete’s performance at previous championships.
“Not anybody can go and compete in this tournament,” Torres explained. “So when you compete in this competition, you’re fighting against the best of the best, from all around the world.”
( Torres’ winning moment after defeating 5X IBJJF World Champion Lucas Lepri in a 30 min finals match. )
The event features five men’s weight divisions, one men’s absolute weight division, two women’s divisions, and three super fight matches.
The win has been a long time in coming for Torres.
Now a three-time veteran of the event, Torres received a coveted invitation to participate in this year’s 77 kilogram division. In 2011, he had won the North American Trials and qualified for his
first ADCC event, held in Nottingham, England that year, but lost in the quarter finals. He was invited to the 2013 event held in Beijing, China and won bronze. He was unable to compete in the 2015 event in Sao Paulo, Brazil due to a knee injury.
This year, with four high-intensity fights in arguably one of the toughest brackets of the event, Torres became the first American in ADCC history to win the 77kg division.
“Winning the ADCC World Championships means the world to me. It’s a dream come true. It’s one of those goals that I set for myself, and I knew it was going to take a lot of work to accomplish,” said Torres. “But I put in the work, and I never gave up. For me to come back to this one and win it, It just makes it all the sweeter. It just feels amazing to see all the hard work pay off.”
Born and raised in New York, Torres started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the age of 15, and at the age of 19 became one of the youngest Americans to achieve a black belt. He is currently a second-degree black belt under Atos Jiu Jitsu Academy founder, Andre Galvao.
After spending several years at Galvao’s academy in San Diego, California, he recently returned to his home state of New York to open his own academy, Essential Jiu Jitsu, in Westchester County, NY.
“The growth of jiu-jitsu within the United States is amazing. As we saw, a lot of Americans doing very well at the ADCC Championships, this past weekend. Jiu jitsu is getting better all around the world, which is going to take the entire sport to whole different level. So I’m excited to see where jiu-jitsu goes within the next 10 years.”
Essential Jiu Jitsu is located at 218 Hartsdale Avenue, Hartsdale, New York.
By: Heather Raferty