Clarion MMA Finishes Second In Rock Solid Grappling Challenge, With A Number Of Excellent Individuals Earning Awards (02/25/15)

(By Coach and Clarion MMA Head, Leo LeFay)

On Saturday, February 21st I took a team from Clarion MMA to a grappling tournament in Slippery Rock, PA. The event was the Rock Solid Grappling Challenge and was held in the field house on the Slippery Rock University campus.

(Photos provided by Clarion MMA) Robyn Stahlman setting up a guillotine choke on her opponent

(Photos provided by Clarion MMA) Robyn Stahlman setting up a guillotine choke on her opponent

I want to start by saying that competing in a tournament is never required for our students. It is a useful tool for most people as they progress, but it is not for everyone. For those special ones that do step out on to the competition mat I like to recognize their accomplishment.

Here are the results from our youth competitors:

Haven LeFay won gold in two different divisions plus the youth “Outstanding Competitor” award.
Megan Stahlman won gold in two divisions plus silver from a third division.
Robyn Stahlman double silver
John Runyan double bronze and 1 silver
Danie Runyan double bronze and 1 silver
Quinn O’Neill silver
Rachel White double bronze
Abby Freeman fought with heart and her usual determination. I am not sure if this resulted in placing or not, but she fought like a champion.
Felicia White also signed up but ended up not being able to compete due to a splinter/spear that found it’s way into her foot while we were waiting for her matches to begin.

Clarion MMA took home the second place team award.

Quinn O'Neill after a hard day's work

Quinn O’Neill after a hard day’s work

As a coach I am proud of every member of the Clarion MMA team. There were many outstanding matches. One of the best was an effort put forth by seven year old Quinn O’Neill, and it wasn’t even a match that he won.

The amount of heart he displayed was incredible. During his first ever tournament match he ended up in a bad position and his opponent began choking him. For over a minute Quinn was stuck at an awkward angle, he was not in danger but was half choked and extremely uncomfortable.

It would have been easy for him to simply “tap out” and end the match. However, he kept calm, listened perfectly to direction and methodically fought his way out of danger and into a safe position. That is the real prize we can gain from jiu jitsu. When the going gets tough, when it feels like you are trapped and suffocating, when quitting would be so easy and so understandable, you find a way to gain your composure, take a breath and work through the problem one step at a time.

Later in the day Quinn went on to win a different match by getting his opponent in an armlock, but that match he lost was where he really showed his ability to become a champion.

I don’t imagine many of our students will go out into the world to become full-time competitive martial artists. That’s not really what we are training them for. The physical skills they learn are excellent for self defense should they ever require them, however, the mental skills are the real treasure.

It takes an amazing amount of control to apply a choke hold or arm lock and force someone to the point of quitting without injuring them. It takes great self awareness and humility to accept defeat when you are caught in a move like that. The ability to remain calm in the most stressful of situations, the ability to focus on the task at hand, the ability to not only win, but to also lose with dignity will carry forward with these kids for the rest of their lives.

It takes bravery, discipline and self-confidence to step into that type of competition. That is really why we do what we do.

(Thanks to coach LeFay for this article. CONGRATULATIONS CLARION MMA GRAPPLERS!!!!)