Gold at the New York Pro (Athlete Journal 42)

James Kearns


Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, United States

Olympic Weightlifting, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

After winning gold in the heavyweight and absolute divisions this past weekend at the New York Pro, I’m feeling pretty good as I get ready to head out to Masters Worlds this week. 


I worked my game plan pretty well at the New York Pro. Unfortunately, out of the four matches that I had, only one of my opponents didn’t pull guard. Although I want to stand and work for the takedown, this has been something that I have been preparing for and I was ready. My passing was nice and my transitions flowed smoothly.



james kearns, athlete journal, ibjff, bjj, tournaments


Working My Weaknesses

Even though I had a lot of success at the New York Pro, there are some things in my game that I still need to iron out this week. The biggest problem I ran into was the referees. Not that the referees were not doing a decent job seeing the matches, but that they were not understanding what exactly I was trying to do when I was in side control.


RELATED: When Referees Go Wrong: How to Handle Wrong Calls


For example, I got called for stalling on three separate occasions Saturday. In my first match, I was trying to set up a lapel choke from side control. Since I was pulling my opponent's gi between his own body and the mat, the friction of the action, the weight of his body, and the transition of the grips made for a slow-developing set up. Although I was actively setting this up, the referee saw it as a lack of activity. 


In my second match, I was setting up the same choke and a different referee called me for stalling. Then in my absolute finals match, I got called again. While I was in side control, I explained to him that I was working hard to set this up. It made no difference because he gave me a second stalling warning. In the end, it had no bearing on the outcome of the match, but it is still discouraging that something that I have been working hard on for the last two months will have to be re-evaluated for its effectiveness. 



"I have no idea what to expect next week, but I do know there was absolutely nothing more that I could have done in preparation for the Masters World Championships."

After the match I had a good conversation with the referee about what I was trying to accomplish and why he didn’t see it the same way. Keep in mind, this conversation was exactly that - a conversation. At no point in time will I intentionally show up a referee, no matter how bad I though the call was (and I have been on the wrong side of some absolutely awful calls). He simply stated that although I may be trying to improve my position or set something up, I need to move faster. I disagreed, thanked him for his explanation, shook his hand, and went on my way.



I Am Prepared

I may have to adjust that part of my game plan, but as far as my conditioning goes, absolutely nothing needs changed. I felt great all day long. At no time did I feel winded or tired, and I clearly had a large strength advantage in all of my matches. This week I will do one weightlifting day before heading out to California. On Monday, I will do some plyometrics, a barbell complex, and some core work. That will be my last strength and conditioning day of the week and of my program. 


LEARN MORE: The Truth About Conditioning for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



I have no idea what to expect next week, but I do know there was absolutely nothing more that I could have done in preparation for the Masters World Championships. I have made a massive jump in skill as a BJJ practitioner because of it. Thanks to all who have helped me prepare for this. 


Monday - Strength and Conditioning

  • Box Jumps 3x11
  • Oblique Push Ups 3x4
  • Plyo Pull Up 3x6
  • Barbell Complex @ 57.5kg
  • Hang Clean x5
  • Push Press x5
  • Front Squat x8
  • Row x8
  • Romanian Deadlift x8
  • Hanging Leg Raise


Monday - BJJ

Drilling, rolling at TCA


Tuesday - BJJ

Drilling, rolling at Daniel Beleza's


Wednesday - BJJ

Drilling, rolling at TCA


Thursday - Strength and Conditioning

  • Box Jumps 3x11
  • Oblique Push Ups 3x4
  • Plyo Pull Up 3x6
  • Circuit x3:
  • Dumbbell Split Squat x15
  • Pull Up x15
  • Incline Push Up x15
  • Hammer Curl x15
  • Medicine Ball Push Up x15
  • Medicine Ball V-Sits @ 20 pounds 3x15,15, 15


Saturday - BJJ: IBJJF NY Pro

James Kearns is an active Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and also trains and competes in Olympic weightlifting.Follow his journals here every week.

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