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Canmore Jiu-Jitsu Athlete Grapples His Way To Victory

Inspired by Dragon Ball Z, Erlam pushed past his limit to defeat his opponent

Canmore athlete, Travis Erlam, overcame a David and Goliath moment at the Submission Ace Championship Fall Classic (SACFC) earlier this month. Held just north of Red Deer in Blackfalds, the SACFC is a submission-only jiu-jitsu tournament.

Two wrestlers hugging after a match
Travis Erlam (left) hugging Mitch Soloway (right) | Chance_BJJ Instagram

A submission-only jiu-jitsu match isn’t a fight to the death, but athletes must still push their bodies to the limit to win. But for Erlam, the top-voted 2023 Best of the Bow coach, to win his match, he needed to go “even further beyond!”

Erlam’s opponent was six-foot-eight heavyweight giant Mitch Soloway. Erlam is by no means small, measuring six-foot-three. But next to Soloway, he was like a boulder next to a mountain. After ten minutes of grappling, Erlam was exhausted and at his limit. Heading into overtime, he knew he needed to push past it.

With no Senzu beans on hand, the Dragan Ball Z fan focused on his years of hard work. In the words of Goku, ”Even a low-class warrior can surpass an elite with enough hard work.” Seconds into overtime, Erlam went Super Saiyan and appeared to use instant transmission to get behind Soloway.

“I was about to be gas, and I was like, I need to put everything I got into this one thing, and it was like Goku’s Kamehameha attack…I just locked it in, and I squeezed as hard as I could, and it worked out in my favour,” Erlam told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Unlike Goku, it didn’t take Erlam ten episodes to bring the match to a close. In a moment, he had Soloway in a chokehold, securing the win for Erlam. Soloway didn’t walk away with the win, but he was thankful for the opportunity.

“Thank you for the opportunity to showcase my skills and really push myself in my first match against a black belt. I didn’t take home the dub, but I gained so much more in lessons learned going forward with my training,” wrote Soloway in an Instagram post.

Erlam’s exciting match was one of many that marked the return of the SACFC after four years. Erlam made the Dark Horse Martial Arts’ team proud. But he wasn’t the only Dark Horse athlete to shine. Carter Haines, Eliot Martel, Danny Parram, Reece Vandersanden, and Brook Faichnie took bronze medals in their categories. Nathan Chan and Bryn Williams earned silver medals, while Dana Noble won gold. 

A team of jiu-jitsu athletes pose at a tournament
Dark Horse athletes posing for a photo | Rocky Mountain Outlook

Noble competed in the women’s 18+ category as a white belt. Inspired by the Dark Horse club’s wall of medals, she was determined to add her own to the collection. 

“I just looked at one of those golds on the wall and was like, ‘I’m gonna get one of those. That was the only thing that I said to kind of like talk myself up in, in my own head, a little bit for motivation,” explained Noble.

Noble’s performance was impressive, earning the only tap-out in her category with a kimura shoulder lock. Noble claims the jiu-jitsu community’s culture is one she’s never seen in other sports. Being a woman in combat sports never bothered Noble, but she understands why other women might hesitate to join.

“It’s such an invasive sport, but the women that I’ve met and the men who have rolled with me and treated me so respectfully and so delicately,” she expressed.

Dark Horse athletes aren’t just focused on winning. They are focused on becoming the best version of themselves. Athlete or not, that’s something we should all strive for.

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