The sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is certainly not for the faint of heart. The martial art that focuses on ground fighting and grappling as combatants try to submit an opponent to a tap out is, by its nature, tough.
It also takes a tremendous amount of discipline and heart.
Brett Olsen personified all of those back on May 18 at the Montana Jiu-Jitsu State Championships in Butte.
While Olsen's double gold medals reflected the overall success Hamilton's Olsen-Behring Vale Tudo and Equipe Behring Jiu-Jitsu club had in Butte, his performance stood out.
That's mainly because he battled his way through both the 160-pound Master 2 (Age 40-plus) Male Gi and No-Gi brackets with a broken fibula.
"I was training on it still, it felt pretty good, but within the first 10 seconds at state I was stepping out there for my first match and I felt it break through," said Olsen, who had broken it two weeks before the state tournament. "...When we found out it was fractured everybody said, ‘Don’t compete, it’s stupid,’ which, it was stupid.
"But when you train for something, you want it, and it was the first state tournament I’ve been to."
Olsen managed by limiting opponents access to his leg, which now bares a cast on it and will keep Olsen from competing in Nationals later this month in California. He also quick-submitted his opponents, scoring one in 12 seconds, as he forced tap outs every step of the way through the two brackets.
"That guy is too tough for his own good, I worry about him sometimes, but you just can’t tell him no," Brett's older brother and head martial arts instructor at Hamilton's Olsen-Behring Vale Tudo, Brandon Olsen, said.
Brandon's jiu-jitsu team that he took to Butte was also quite tough. In the 65 events, Hamilton brought home 37 total medals and finished second place in the best academy score to Butte's Grit Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu club despite Hamilton fielding fewer entries.
Of those 37 medals across the Gi — which allows you to grab an opponent's traditional martial arts uniform in grabs — and No-Gi tournaments, 16 were gold. One of those gold medals came in an impressive bout by 7-year-old Marley Olsen, Brandon's daughter.
Olsen — known as Hurricane Marley because she, in her own words, "pretty much beats everybody" — competed in the kids 8U 95-pound division despite weighing just 70 pounds. She lost to Kalispell's Keara Wieczorek in the Gi bracket, but Olsen submitted Wieczorek in the No-Gi final despite giving up 25 pounds to the Kalispell fighter.
"That’s like a third of her weight," said Brandon, Marley's dad and recently a third-place finisher at the World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship. "When she trains and when she competes, I like to put her against the boys who are a lot heavier than her, because she’s that good.
"A lot of times I’ll have 12-year-old boys come in and she’ll tap them out and she’s only seven."
Marley, who practiced with a huge smile on her face Friday in Hamilton, summed up just how tough she is.
"I can pick up my mom," she said, forcing a chuckle from those around her.
Marley wasn't the only elementary-school aged kid to compete — and have success — at the state jiu-jitsu tournament last month. Several of Brandon's students, including 10-year-old Mark Sandoval, won double gold. Sandoval accomplished the feat in the two under 75-pound brackets, submitting his way to victory.
His performance also won him free airfare to Nationals next month.
"When they shot, I sprawled to stop them," Sandoval explained Friday as he and about a dozen other kids practiced in Hamilton at Olson's dojo. "Then they’d escape, but I’d still get them down."
Other gold medal winners were Cayde Olsen, Mackenzie Pilkey, Leyton Olsen, Ares Arnold, Zeke Olsen, Paul Abrahamsen, Eric Sandoval, Lexie Hildebrand, Brett Olsen and Caycee Olsen. Mason Leavell, a part of the Hamilton squad, also won a gold and silver medal in the Idaho state tournament the same weekend.
Full results from the state tournament are available at www.smoothcomp.com.