Capitola native Reuben Torres probably couldn’t ask for a better Father’s Day gift after his son, Shane, won a gold medal Saturday in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu All-Star Tournament, hosted by the BJJ Tour.
Shane, 23, representing Coalition 95, defeated Jose Leon of Gilroy in the Adult Purple Belt Featherweight finals in front of a light crowd of BJJ fans inside Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.
“It feels great,” Shane said of winning gold near his hometown. “I injured my knee, so I wasn’t able to train for the last three weeks, so I was hungry to be back on the mat. It feels good to be back on the mat and win.”
Reuben, 48, also competed on Saturday and earned a silver medal. He came up short against Greg Teso of Triune Jiu-Jitsu of San Jose in the Master 4 Purple Belt Lightweight division.
The Torres’ have been competing together in BJJ tournaments for a little less than six years, and Shane said it’s been a great time.
“It’s awesome. We get to train together, prepare together,” Shane said. “You can’t take days off because you see your family want to train and it motivates you to train also. There’s no skipping at all.”
Before Shane started competing in jiu-jitsu, he wrestled for Soquel High. It wasn’t until shortly after high school that he was introduced to the martial art by a group of friends and said he was hooked from Day 1. Six months later, Reuben joined in on the fun.
However, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Reuben, who said he was shown a thing or two the first time he got on the mat with someone more skilled than himself. But it didn’t discourage him and he’s been competing ever since.
“Rather than feeling like, ‘Wow, I was totally dominated and kind of dejected,’ I felt like, ‘Hey I could do that, I want to learn that,’” Reuben said. “I was more inspired instead of feeling dejected and clobbered. The guy, he was polite but he showed me what he could do.”
Shane, who is currently the varsity wrestling coach at Soquel High, also inspired the rest of the Torres family. His mom, Quincy, 43, brother Sonny, 20, and sister Claudia, 16, are also involved with BJJ. Quincy even won the Master 1 purple belt light featherweight division at the Pan-Am Games earlier this year.
Instead of taking vacations to explore a foreign country, they compete in tournaments. The father-and-son duo said they plan trips according to whatever BJJ tournament is happening on the calendar, including Saturday’s BJJ Tour event.
Shane said he’s totally cool with it.
“Even if it’s not tournaments, we’ll find a place to train,” Reuben said. “When we went to Hawaii, we trained in Hawaii. We went to China and trained when I worked in China, I found a dojo.”
Reuben said competing and training in BJJ has brought the family a lot closer. He added that Sonny and Claudia would sometimes rather spend time training on the mat instead of hanging out with friends.
Perhaps the young ones could be ready to compete with Reuben in the near future, but for now they have Shane to cheer on. And, of course, get an earful from dad since they both push each other to do better. After all, that’s what makes them better competitors.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Reuben said competing with Shane. “When I’m preparing to get on the mat and I see him competing, it inspires me to get ready. It drives me to see him do well. I want to do well right along side him.”