While the majority of the jiu-jitsu community may not be aware of them, there are some monsters in the brown belt divisions of the IBJJF who are slowly creeping up to that black belt level. Leading up to his participation in the Canadian Kumite super tournament this Saturday being put on by Submission Series Promotions, I had a chance to chat briefly with Dante Leon, a Toledo Ohio based Canadian jiu-jitsu phenom.
I first saw Dante compete a few years back; I believe he was still a purple belt at the time. I watched him cut through opponents like a hot knife through butter. I even recently had an opportunity to compete against Dante; it was a 2-minute match that ended in me getting triangled. The kid’s extremely tough and talented.
This upcoming super tournament features some of the best that the sport of grappling has to offer, including EBI finalist Rustam Chsiev and Danaher Death Squad member Oliver Taza. However, of all the names on the lengthy list, the one who has been doing the most damage on the competition scene is Dante.
“I started training when I was 12 years old. My dad got me into it and from the first day I fell in love with it. I trained in Canada where I was born and raised. I moved to train in Detroit, MI, since I needed higher level training and wanted to become a competitor. I knew this was the career I always dreamed of and wanted so I pursued it and sought out the best training I could. Last year in 2015, I switched to GF Team and began training at Baddog sports performance in Toledo, Ohio. I wound up with GF Team to seek the best team and training I thought was right for me and my jiu-jitsu game. I am now 21 years old and a brown belt.”
Dante has been on a competition tear for a few years now. He has faced off against, and beaten, some of the best in the game, including opponents like leg-lock experts Josh Hayden and Joe Baize as well as his first-round draw for the Canadian Kumite, Rustam Chsiev.
“I am down to compete with anyone under any rule set. I know all my fights will be tough and with Rustam matched up against me first round, I will need to come out guns blazing. My first match with him I won on advantages and penalties.”
When you see Dante compete, you almost instantly realize that you are not watching a normal person, but rather an extraordinary competitor and athlete. I was interested in learning a bit about what makes Dante so effective as a competitor, and what his training methodology is.
“All world class competitors are gifted physically and mentally! Mindset is extremely important. I believe that’s why a lot of competitors meditate, study, practice yoga, etc. I also feel BJJ athletes now are keener on physical preparation and conditioning, which is why you see very many of them lifting and working out very hard.”
I wanted to learn a bit more about Dante’s mindset, both as it pertains to competition as well as his training methodology and attitudes.
“In training have a very free and open mind. I let my ego rest and I try a lot of different things. In the tournament I am very intense and focused. I shut everything out and I keep my mind clear and blank and keep my intensity up to the max. In the gym I play loose and experiment, in the tournament I play tight and stick to my game.”
Dante’s methods have resulted in wins across many different competitions, including a tear through his division and the absolute at the recent 2016 No Gi Pans.
“I train all games and all styles so I don’t have a specialty or a favorite. My match with Joe Baize was pretty unique being that he is a no-gi grappler with dangerous leg attacks and I was never known as being that kind of guy. I think I surprised a lot of people when I submitted him with a leg lock of my own, but I credit that to being open-minded and open to any challenges that may arise. I have had a lot of matches that have been quite similar to that in other events. I have fought with Josh Hayden, another no-gi specialist, Rustam Chsiev and many others.”
The Canadian Kumite will be available via live stream tomorrow, Saturday 10/8/2016 at 7pm Eastern. The web address is subseriespro.cleeng.com and is only 12 Canadian dollars.
In closing, Dante had a couple of things to say:
I will always push to offer the fans the most exciting and entertaining performance I can. I love this art and support anyone else who does, too. Shout-outs to my friends, family and supporters! My Baddog family, Kelly Hymore and Gutemberg Pereira and my sponsors Baddog, Manto, Jungle Gym, Submit the World, and Koma Restaurant.”