SELMA — For Joshua and Jacob Cisneros, winning runs in the family.
At this month’s IBJJF Pan-American Championships, held in Orlando, Florida, 20-year-old Joshua took gold in the black belt adult light featherweight division while Jacob, 18, took bronze in the purple belt adult light featherweight division. The Pan-American Championship is the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in North America.
The brothers, who are from Selma but fight out of Elite Team in Visalia, hail from a long line of decorated competitors.
Joe Cisneros — the oldest of the six Cisneros brothers — was a three-time CIF State medalist and wrestled for Bakersfield and Selma high schools. Second oldest brother, Alex, is a three-time state wrestling champion and four-time state finalist, earning a 177-4 career record. The third oldest brother — Chris Cisneros — was a two-time CIF State qualifier for the Bears.
Having a culture of competition has helped the brothers grow as athletes, Jacob said.
“We have people to push us as well and it’s a lot more training for us and a lot more experience because we also get [our older brother’s] insights on how their competitions go and they help us train,” Jacob said. “Having brothers means you have permanent training partners.”
Joshua started competing in jiu-jitsu when he was 12, while Jacob began at 10 years old.
Joshua, who only just earned his black belt in September, went into the Pan-Ams as an underdog, managed to come away with the biggest upset of the tournament, according to many fight fans. BJJ news source AttackTheBack.com reported that Joshua taking gold in his debut was “one of the biggest shocks of the tournament.”
Joshua defeated No. 1 seed Paulo Miyao, a three-time champion.
“It feels really good. It shows all the hard work and the training I’ve been doing,” Joshua said. “And to get it over a guy like Paulo Miyao, who’s literally a legend in the sport that I’ve been watching fight at the highest level against the top guys, I have learned from him and now that I’ve gotten to fight him and beat him, that’s a huge accomplishment. That’s probably the highlight of my career right now.”
Joshua met Miyao, the division’s heavy favorite and winner of the 2015 competition, in the quarterfinals.
“For me, that quarterfinals match was the finals. Everything revolved around that match,” Joshua said.
In addition to meeting and conquering new challenges, Joshua said he enjoys the traveling and seeing new places that comes along with attending North America’s various tournaments.
What he said he enjoys most about the sport, though, is that it works out the mind as well as the body.
“It’s like a chess game. It’s very technical, so your mind is always thinking,” Joshua said. “The plan is to just go in there and attack and find a submission. We roll around and the mindset is to just trying to break each other’s arms and break each other’s legs. It’s fun.”
Currently a student at College of the Sequoias, Joshua plans to open his own gym and train a new generation of fighters when he’s done competing.
Parker Bowman covers Selma and Kingsburg. follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ Parker_THS or send an email to PBowman@HanfordSentinel.com.
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