Joshua Smith of Vancouver recently returned from the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2022 in Las Vegas, where he won a bronze medal in his belt and weight class.
Smith, 38, was featured in the Sept. 1 Columbian story “Fighting Spirit.” He lacks full use of his legs since he crushed his spine in a snowmobiling accident at Mount St. Helens when he was 12. It took him years to work his way from a wheelchair to crutches to walking again. He started Brazilian jiujitsu training 15 years ago, and credits it with changing his life.
Brazilian jiujitsu builds on the Japanese martial art’s premise that a smaller, weaker person can use leverage to take a stronger, heavier opponent to the ground and defeat him. The Brazilian version is a combat sport in which competitors score points for gaining a dominant position and holding opponents in submission.
Smith grappled against able-bodied competitors in the rooster-weight purple-belt category. It was his second time on the podium at the competition. He won a silver medal in 2021. He said he felt initial disappointment because he had been aiming for gold, but nonetheless proud of the accomplishment.
“I was my own worst enemy to sum it up in one sentence,” Smith said in an email. “So it’s back to the drawing board. … Next year will be better!”