Greensburg Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor from Pa Combat Sports, Is the 2013 IBJJF American Nationals BJJ Champion

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For the head BJJ coach at Pa Combat Sports (in Greensburg, Pennsylvania), a National Title in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wouldn't be the only good thing to come from this latest IBJJF competition in Los Angeles. His win would also break a 15 year competitive dry spell for International BJJ events in the Golden State and launch him into the #1 ranked position thats been in his sights all year.

It was a validating experience to return to California and win Gold at an IBJJF event.

On September 7th & 8th, 2013, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation hosted its annual American Nationals at Cal State University in Los Angeles. This two day martial arts tournament is the IBJJF’s only US based National event, which is also run under the banner of the United States Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

This year, Pennsylvania Combat Sports (http://www.PaCombatSports.com) in Greensburg, would have its first athlete competing at the American Nationals, and in the end, its first IBJJF National Champion. Casey Leonard, a BJJ Brown Belt and resident instructor at Pa Combat Sports, would make the trip to LA with a goal of winning IBJJF Gold.

Having competed in BJJ tournaments for the past 15 years, this event held some significance in a couple of different ways, but to understand we have to go back a bit.

Casey Leonard began his training with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while serving as a Marine at Camp Pendleton, California in 1998. Training a few evenings a week and occasionally on the weekends, his first competition experiences were all in Southern California.

While finishing the rest of his enlistment at Pendleton, he was able to compete in a half dozen tournaments, one of which was an International Jiu-Jitsu Tournament held at UC Irvine back in 1998. As a very inexperienced white belt, he lost his first match soundly.

Flash forward to the 2013 IBJJF Pan Am’s, which were ironically held in the same UC Irvine Bren Center Arena. This time, Casey (now a Brown Belt under Prof. Vicente Junior) would win his first match, yet lose the second by 2 advantage points to the divisions ultimate winner.

Another attempt and still no International Jiu-Jitsu titles to be had in California.

Now with the 2013 IBJJF tournament season drawing to a close soon, there wouldn’t be many chances left to hit pay dirt in The Golden State. Even more important than that, would be reaching a goal set into motion earlier this year.

Casey Leonard had been sitting on the #3 ranked position, for his IBJJF Brown belt division, up until the American Nationals. His climb through the ranks involved competing in IBJJF events across the country. Tournaments in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas were all important rungs in the ladder to the top position. So after a long climb through the ranks, the American Nationals would be a huge opportunity to capture that sought after spot. With the first place win and the Gold medal placed around his neck, so came the realization of that goal. Casey Leonard would now hold the #1 ranked spot (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) for his Brown belt division.

Ranking stats courtesy of IBJJFRankings.com

"Having spent over 10 years training and developing my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in Westmoreland County, it was a validating experience to return to California and win Gold at an IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) event like the American Nationals."

"With a win like that, putting me into the top ranked spot, I don't think I could've asked for a better outcome."

As sweet as a victory like this is, it’s still just another stepping stone on the path. Casey has a World Title in his sights and its going to take a lot of focused BJJ training at Pennsylvania Combat Sports (http://www.pacombatsports.typepad.com/brazilian_jiujitsu/) to make that happen. With his instructor's (Professor Vicente Junior) guidance and the effort of those dedicated members that make up the team at PA Combat Sports, the likelihood for success is high.

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