Claudia do Val raised eyebrows at the IBJJF Manila Open last weekend when she submitted her opponent in the last eight seconds of the match after scoring 91 unanswered points.
Do Val and her opponent, Maybelline Masuda, were the only two women in the female black belt division, and Masuda gave up 22kgs (48 lbs) in her black belt debut to meet Do Val (who is a multiple-time black belt world champion and has won just about every IBJJF competition out there) in the super heavyweight division and again in the open weight division.
The win has been controversial, with some accusing Do Val of being “disrespectful” and others calling doubt into Masuda’s standing as a black belt. But Do Val told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that she didn’t feel right “forcing” a submission on her much smaller opponent instead of relying on technique. “If my life depended on it, I guess I could’ve submitted her faster,” she said. “I would have had to use strength and probably be a bit ‘brute’ as she was small and kept very tight, so I would need to force an opening — which, like I said, if my life depended on it I could do it, but I prefer clean jiu-jitsu. So I was trying to find a way to a technical submission, which only happened in the last seconds.”
Although Do Val’s walk-around weight doesn’t place her in the super heavyweight category, she says that the lack of opponents in the female black belt division and her additional responsibilities as a referee make it the best option for her. “I sign up at super heavy for small Opens because I also work as a ref and usually don’t have opponents at my category and only do the open class,” she says. “But in order to get my medal and points, I still need to make weight. So signing up at super [heavyweight], I don’t have to make weight. And by ‘make weight,’ I mean get out and change out of ref clothes, weigh in, and then change again and go back to work.”
Masuda, for her part, is a pioneer in the Philippine jiu-jitsu scene. She won Worlds in 2009 as a white belt (becoming the first Philippine IBJJF World Champion) and subsequently became the country’s first female BJJ purple belt, brown belt, and black belt. She earned her black belt seven months ago — about a year after giving birth to her daughter.
Masuda gave her thoughts on her matches in an Instagram post:
“I just got my black belt cherry popped by none other than @claudiadovaljj. 🍒 First of all, kasalanan niyo to, @michmasuda @jamcantos@franzalts @chefalloy for convincing me on registration deadline to sign up on the premise that I’ve got nothing to lose fighting the #1 ranked @IBJJF black belt competitor in the World. 🌎🏆 I moved up to superheavy, 30kgs above my division and so I got to fight her twice, and I did within 50 mins (she had to referee so I only got to rest 30 mins before fighting her again in the Absolute.) But you know what, there is nothing like a rude awakening and terrible loss to help bolster the system. 👊🏼 Here are some things I learned: 10 mins is a gawd awful long time & you have to train both sides (I can’t stress this enough. I know we’re told to master one side first but I was literally caught off guard w/ Claudia’s spider guard tension on the right arm and omo-plata attacks on the left arm); lastly, you can’t do this part time. Every aspect of your mind & body has to be trained to do this; training once a day is not enough; you probably have to be doing this for a living & competing all the time – sh*t gets f*cking real after blue belt and it’s a different world especially now at black belt. I’m just glad that I put up a fight. I got submitted in the last 8 seconds of our final match and that I made it out without injuries. If anybody has sh*t to say, yes I f*cking lost bad but I challenge them to man or woman up & do the same! At least I competed! All these people did is watch me lose. 😆 I’m thankful that I got to have this opportunity, & that I got to do it with my Deftac family. 🙌🏼 Thank you @alvinaguilar111 and everybody I had the honor to fight alongside with & to everyone who came out to support! ❤️ We won 3rd place overall, not the result we wanted, but we did it purely with 20 LOCAL athletes, kulang pa adults, puro masters! CONGRATS to us. 🏅 Sa mga di sumali we totally understand, joining Manila Open is TOO EXPENSIVE white belts shouldn’t pay for membership! Thank you Atos HK, Korea & Gracie Barra SG for sending a large group of your best; we’ll be back for 1st place next year!”
If you’re living in or visiting the Philippines, you can train with Masuda at DEFTAK. Do Val will also be teaching various seminars throughout Asia, which she listed in a post of her own:
Correction: A previous edition of this post listed Maybelline Masuda as a blue belt world champion. The IBJJF website has her listed as a white belt world champion. The weight disparity between the competitors has also been corrected.