Prince Albert jiu-jitsu artist Joey Gobeil (far right) poses with his bronze medal won at the 2014 IBJJF Las Vegas International Open on May 3. at the Sport Center of Las Vegas. Submitted photo
Prince Albert continues to make its mark on the martial arts scene as a pair of jiu-jitsu fighters returned home from Las Vegas last week with favourable results.
A duo of Brazilian jiu-jitsu artists training out of the Complete Martial Arts gym in Prince Albert competed in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Las Vegas International Open on May 3., both faring well against top talent from around the world.
Prince Albert natives Kelly Parent and Joey Gobeil fought in their first IBJJF tournament in Las Vegas as the latter achieved a bronze medal in the menâs heavy blue-belt division.
âIt was nice to confirm that we are right where we think we are,â Gobeil said of his and Parentâs success at the Sport Center of Las Vegas. âIt was good to find out where we fared against the big clubs, that was probably the biggest reward, knowing that we belong there.â
While Gobeil reached the podium, Parent fell just short after he was defeated in the middleweight blue belt bronze medal match by Huntington Beach, Calif., fighter Ernie Lopez.
Gobeil picked up his bronze medal after falling to Concord, Calif. fighter Adam Schembs, who went on to grab the silver.
After exchanging takedowns and sweeps throughout their match, Gobeil found himself tied in points with Schembs in the tiltâs final 30 seconds.
âIt was just a head-to-head battle with the two of us trying to get a takedown,â Gobeils recalled. âHe got a hold of my ankle and like a bull he kept pushing forward, eventually he got me to the ground for two points.â
Although Gobeil was unable to score in the matchesâ final 16 seconds, clinching the win for Schembs, the pair of Prince Albert fighters and their coach were very impressed with the duoâs ability to hang in there with athletes from the âbig gyms.â
The pairâs trainer Corey Lillis explained that Gobeil and Parent were a bit nervous heading into the tournament, having little idea of what to expect from the international field.
To prepare, Lillis said that during an intensive eight-week training camp, he and the duo studied footage from other international tournaments to get a feel for moves that are not used on the local fighting scene.
âOne of the things we did was study footage to get a sense of some of the different moves guys were using,â Lillis explained. âWe prepared them really well and a lot of the positions we specially trained for came up in the matches.â
Parent said the eight weeks of intensive training and study is what did it for the pair.
âCory is a dictionary of jiu-jitsu moves,â explained Parent. âHe was giving us some pointers of what moves might come up and low and behold they did. We defended well, neither of us were submitted by anyone.â
Although failing to reach the podium, Parent impressed his trainer with his performance as his IBJJF debut comes following a wave of recent martial arts success coming from Prince Albert talent.
In April, The Herald told the story of a pair of MMA fighters, Ryan Rohovich and Wesley Bowman, who both improved their records with victories at an event in Cranbrook, B.C.
Lillis agreed that the success of his fighters in Las Vegas, coupled with the recent success of other martial artists from P.A., are signs of the city putting itself of the sportâs map.
âWhether itâs MMA or Brazilian jiu jitsu, we have a lot of top guys,â Lillis said of the talent coming out of Prince Albert. âWe are faring very well and thatâs encouraging for our city of 36,000.â
Lillis credited a great deal of Gobeil and Parentâs success to the rapid development of his gym and its counter-part in Regina, headed by trainer A.J. Scales.
The Complete Martial Arts gym in P.A. is fed a curriculum and training program by Scaleâs gym in Regina, adequately preparing fighters for international competition.
âThe curriculum we follow is addressing all the particular needs of the athletes to be able to compete,â Lilles explained. âItâs nice to know that myself as a coach I can help prepare these guys to compete at that level.â
Based on Gobeilâs bronze-medal-winning performance in Las Vegas, Lillis said his fighter may be ready for the next step as they mull their options.
Lilles said Gobeil is considering competing in the Master and Seniors World Jiu-Jistu Championship in Long Beach, Calif., in October.
âIt was nice to see that a Prince Albert guy could go down and hang with the best around,â Lilles said. âItâs very encouraging.â