Beware the Sperryville triangle choke

By Gordon Wicks
Special to the Rappahannock News

An exciting milestone for the budding Rappahannock martial arts community, as the Totality Martial Arts Academy, based right here at Stonewall Abbey Wellness in Sperryville, had four representatives compete in the Copa Virginia Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament.

Coached by Professor Mattie Leto, participants Jacob Rosenbaum, Hugo Ramirez, Smith Cliffton and Josh Neff competed in their respective divisions, bringing home a gold and silver medal.

Rappahannock’s Jacob Rosenbaum (right) is announced the winner of the Blue Belt Division at the recent Copa Virginia Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament. Courtesy photo

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a grappling based martial art that developed out of Judo early in the last century by the now world famous Gracie family, has become prominent over the last 30 years, proving itself to be one of the most effective self defense systems to ever exist. Combat sports competitions have always been at the core of BJJ, with the now widely popular UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) having been founded by the Gracie family to showcase the art.

Rosenbaum competed in two divisions, the -#195 Blue Belt and Blue Belt Absolute divisions. Jacob clearly dominated the division, securing top position in the first match from the start and maintaining a dominant position throughout the match, winning by submission with a head and arm triangle choke.

In his final match he fought through a tough opponent’s guard, eventually securing a Kimura grip on his opponent’s left arm. As he struggled to finish the shoulder lock, they pushed out of bounds and the referee reset them back in the middle that seemed to have immediately given his opponent a chance to free his arm. The match continued with Jacob maintaining a dominate top position and eventually defeating his opponent by points. Jacob went on to test himself in the Absolute Division (no weight restrictions), where he lost in the first round by points to a very tough opponent from Richmond’s Upstream BJJ Academy who went on to take the entire division.

Hugo Ramirez competed in the +#220 White Belt Division. Hugo’s failed takedown attempt led to a guard pass by his opponent, which ended in a submission by an Americana armlock in side control position. Due to another opponent’s disqualification, Hugo took 2nd place and brought home a Silver medal in this heavyweight division.

Josh Neff competed in the -#208 Masters (ages 30+) White Belt Division. Although Josh lost in the first round he executed two solid takedowns at the beginning of the fight, then successfully pulled guard on his opponent. Josh’s opponent was able to break the guard leading to a brief scramble where he was able to make it to back control, sinking in the rear naked choke and securing a win by submission.

Smith Cliffton, competing in the -#181 White Belt Division, nearly had a stoppage due to a severe nosebleed. The match did continue however, with an exciting fast paced exchange leading to Smith finding himself in a tight leg triangle, where he was rolled from a failed escape and then finally submitted with the choke by his opponent.

Today, people all over the world enjoy the physical conditioning, self defense aspects, and the competitive challenge that comes with training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; children, women, men, young and old alike. Totality Martial Arts Academy offers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes 3 days a week for coed adults, as well as it is a part of their youth program curriculum. They also offer kickboxing twice a week, Kung Fu and Escrima (Filipino martial arts) classes throughout the week.

The youth program offers separate classes for children ages 4-7, 8-12 & 13-17 with a focus on training in kickboxing, BJJ, and Yoga. You can find out more by going to or on Facebook & Instagram.

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