A don’t-miss display of local and regional grappling talent is coming to the Pavilion on Saturday.
Put on by the nonprofit Give Back Tournaments, the ninth Spokane Submission Challenge looks different this time with the addition of a jiu-jitsu card at the end of the tournament.
“(This card has) some of the best grapplers in the world as well as a lot of local grapplers getting their chance to have a platform to take their career to the next level,” tournament director Adam Smith said.
One of those local grapplers is Ryan Mulvihill.
Mulvihill started jiu-jitsu 15 years ago and has since competed in many tournaments, additionally holding a 14-8 pro-MMA record. His latest venture in the martial art was opening Redemption BJJ in the Garland District.
After talking about opening a gym for several years, Mulvihill finally decided to jump into entrepreneurship and start the gym.
“It’s all wrapped around God and His timing and me being afraid to (open) it for multiple reasons,” Mulvihill said. “It’s a big responsibility to be living right and the impact you can have on people, and I didn’t feel like I was ready.”
As the only professor at his gym, it would be easy to “sit back and teach,” but that is not what Mulvihill does. Rather, he involves himself in the classes from warm-ups to after-class grappling. This is how he runs his gym while he prepares for his match.
“I’ve never really found getting ready for jiu-jitsu tournaments very hard because I did MMA for so long,” Mulvihill said, adding that because he does not get punched or kicked, he does not get nervous about jiu-jitsu tournaments. “I even used to look at MMA matches as a jiu-jitsu match with punches and kicks because it took the pressure off.”
Mulvihill’s gym is one of eight gyms in Spokane with a major jiu-jitsu focus.
“There (were) only a couple of gyms around 15 years ago, and now they’re everywhere,” he said.
Mulvihill developed cauliflower ear early on in his training, which prompted most people to stare or ask what was wrong with his ears because they did not know about the sport, he said.
“Now, because (jiu-jitsu and MMA are) so popular and mainstream, a lot of people start conversations like, ‘Oh, do you fight,’ ” Mulvihill said.
As the sport grows in popularity, so do the opportunities in Spokane surrounding it.
In addition to the gyms in the area that teach jiu-jitsu, several tournaments have taken place in Spokane including the American Grappling Federation’s tournament held in August.
Now, a display of professional and up-and-coming jiu-jitsu athletes will add to the community of jiu-jitsu in Spokane.
The card will be headlined by 10th Planet black belt Mason Fowler, who is an active jiu-jitsu competitor, having been a two-time world champion, Submission Underground Challenge champion, and has placed first in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club East and West Coast Trials. He will face Sylvio Behring Association Ponderay’s lead professor, Tanner Weisgram.
“I think it’s gonna be an amazing show,” Fowler said. “And I think it’s gonna be super entertaining whether you do jiu-jitsu or if you don’t even know anything about the sport.”
Other notable grapplers include 10th Planet black belt Amanda Loewen and two-time no gi world champion Benji Silva. Local grapplers to watch out for include Freeman elementary school’s health and PE teacher Zack Schneider and Warrior Camp’s Daniel Swain. Chael Sonnen, an MMA analyst for ESPN and former UFC light heavyweight and welterweight, will provide commentary for the matches.
“We’re really hoping that (because of this) showcase, Spokane gets to understand more about jiu-jitsu,” Smith said. “It’s a launching point for us to take martial arts to the next step in our town.”
Smith hopes his next step for jiu-jitsu in Spokane is a weekend filled with martial arts.
“We’re hoping one day we can get to a two-day event (in which) martial arts takes over downtown and we have traditional karate, wrestling, judo (and) jiu-jitsu,” Smith said. “Right here in Spokane.”
The Spokane Submission Challenge will take place under the Pavilion at 6 p.m. Saturday.