Pride Moldova BJJ has existed long before we even had a name and a web domain. We're proud to continue to be able to say that all donated money and goods go directly to the Moldovan programs! Check out the following summaries on our various successful projects we've had the pleasure to have been a part of up until now.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2005 to 2007, Robert "Bobby" McMasters worked as a health education volunteer. He was placed in a small, isolated village in the Cahul region of the Republic of Moldova. Having a long history with wrestling and a new-found love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Bobby decided to start a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team in his community.
After obtaining the mats, a rag-tag group of mostly children and young teens met 5 to 6 times a week to train in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Having absolutely no experience in grappling and no exposure whatsoever to MMA or anything except for some donated DVDs, the beginning was a bit rough. Eventually though, people started to get it and more importantly they were enjoying it. Kids were foregoing the chance to sit around and smoke and drink with their friends in order to show up to the mats to see who the strongest fighter or biggest joker would be at the end of the day.
The turnout was so strong that eventually 2 training teams were formed because not all of the kids could fit on the mats at once. The next logical step was a competition. Team A fought team B in technically the first ever BJJ tournament in the Republic of Moldova during the fall months of 2006. Although there was only one other tournament between the teams after this, many more were to come and depending on you, the reader, many more are still to come.
Volunteering is so important at this point in Moldova's BJJ development. We can't stress it enough. Check out a little bit about our history for more details on how BJJ made it out to the middle of nowhere and what you can do to continue to help train future Moldovan fighters.
Initially, the Burlacu team trained no-gi BJJ with a heavy emphasis on takedowns. It was evident that more could be done with the program if the Burlacu team could train with gis. After sending out just a handful of emails, responses poured in. People sent gis from around the world. Eventually, Sharon Bonewicz, a Lloyd Irvin black belt from Pennsylvania took over the brunt of the work in supplying the team with gis, and after only a few months, the team had all the equipment it would need for years of training. I think this goes to show that even one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others.
Obviously, it's tough to train most grappling sports without any mats. BJJ is no exception. With donated cash as well as community contributions in the village of Burlacu (Previously a mat-free community) we were able to make the trip to Moldova's capital, Chisinau to purchase 12 1x2m mats so we could start the first BJJ team in the Republic of Moldova. The mats are still there and the team still trains and competes on them today!
The first Burlacu Tri-Duals took place in 2011 with the hopes of creating a tradition in the Republic of Moldova. The tournament, which took place in the "Garden of Eden of Moldovan Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (aka Burlacu)", was modeled after a wrestling dual/tri-dual, team-based competition. It was set up to promote healthy competition between the three established teams in Moldova: Burlacu, Leova and Chisinau. Both tournaments were a success.
The first tournament helped to create a sense of self-sufficiency and early rivalry between the established schools. We initially expected that the Chisinau team would be able to make the tournament but it turned out, for whatever reason that none of their fighters could come. In the end, Leova beat Burlacu in the team competition, but in the open no-gi individual competition a competitor from Burlacu came out on top with Leova coming in second.
In 2012, the teams had obviously developed significantly since the last meet, and Chisinau was able to bring a handful of very talented fighters. Leova won again for the second year in a row. Burlacu came in second, and Chisinau came in third. In the no-gi open individual division we were able to place a fighter from each school. We hope to continue to hold this competition every year. Your donations go toward financing the medals, trophies and diplomas for this competition.
In 2012, we saw the best BJJ fighters in the nation compete against each other in the same venue for the first time ever. We're very proud to have been a big player in this respect and we hope others can experience the same type of fulfillment. See how you can contribute to the Burlacu Tri-Duals 2013 here.
Initially we asked for long-standing supporters of our projects to send us a patch from their schools along with $20 (or equivalent). The money would be used to purchase a nice new BJJ gi to give away to "the fighter with the most heart", at Moldova's first national BJJ tournament, the Moldova Cup. The donated patches would be used to make the gis look sweet and to help form a sense of community within the sport. We wound up receiving 2 new gis and a bunch of patches, and we also bought a new gi. The gis were given to 3 "hearty" fighters from the 3 major teams: Burlacu, Chisinau and Leova. We've decided to maintain a variation of this initiative. See how you can get involved, here.