Pan American Jiu Jitsu Championships in Irvine, CA features Grapplers from Waynesville's Basulto Academy.

By Armando Basulto | Apr 01, 2013
Courtesy of: Royler Gracie Royler Gracie with the Gracie North Carolina Team in Irvine, CA

One of the biggest grappling events in the world, the Pan American Championships of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Irvine, CA, featured Jiu Jitsu fighters from downtown Waynesville’s Basulto Academy of Defense (Gracie Jiu Jitsu North Carolina).   The Pan-American Championships, held March 20 to the 24, 2013 at UC Irvine’s Bren’s Center, is the largest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament held in North America and featured over three thousand competitors who collectively try to submit their opponents using chokes or joint locks.  Referred to as the "Pan Ams" by competitors and fans, the tournament is held annually and collects the hemisphere’s best fighters, including grapplers from twenty different countries.

Coach Armando Basulto prepared four of his best fighters who dedicated months of preparation and intense training for the event.  Ryan Conn, a lightweight Purple Belt, Dianna Williams, a women’s division Purple Belt, Sean O’Connell a lightweight White Belt and Danaea Makemson a featherweight Women’s White Belt. 

“These four folks devoted themselves heart and soul to training for the Pan Ams this year, sacrificing time with friends and family, dieting to make weight and training seven days a week at the academy to get ready” says Coach Basulto. “Some of the weight classes were so stacked with skill and sheer number of competitors that many fighters had to fight seven matches or more just to make it to the semi-finals.” 

Ultimately, after intense matches in their respective divisions, in which these North Carolina Jiu Jitsu disciples showed great skill and heart, it was the women fighters who brought back medals in their weight class.  Dianna Williams returned with the Silver Medal and Danaea Makemson with a Bronze.  The event was broadcast world-wide via a live streaming internet feed that showed each individual mat and match. 

The Basulto Academy of Defense (Gracie North Carolina) is the sole certified representative for Gracie Humaita Competition Team in the state of North Carolina. Gracie Jiu Jitsu was developed in Brazil from traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu by the Gracie family, who gained world attention with their many successes in Ultimate Fighting Championships, a tradition they have maintained in Rio de Janeiro since 1925.   Professor Armando Basulto is an official Black Belt representative instructor of Royler Gracie Jiu Jitsu and has been coaching Jiu Jitsu for over seventeen years. 

Gracie Jiu Jitsu Classes for self-defense, competition and healthy living are currently offered at Gracie North Carolina, located at Basulto Academy of Defense 218 Branner Ave. Downtown Waynesville.   For more information visit or call 828-230-5056.