Teen Boy Wonders Bring Home Double-Gold After Testing Mettle at 2021 Michigan State Jiu Jitsu Championships

Competing out of Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Saginaw, Michigan, teens Vince Barber and Michael Graham bring home double-gold each after bumping up divisions in the 2021 Michigan State Jiu Jitsu Championships – AGF Detroit

Medal Breakdown

  • Vince Barber – Gold – AGF Gi Male Juvenile Blue Light Feather & Gold – No Gi Male Juvenile Blue Light Feather
  • Michael Graham – Gold – AGF Gi Male Adult Blue Feather & Gold – No Gi Male Adult Blue Feather
IMG 5806 Rotated, Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Saginaw MI
Vince Barber and Michael Graham with Coach Carl from Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Saginaw, Michigan.

Teen competitors from Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Saginaw, Michigan rose to the challenge at the American Grappling Federation 2021 Michigan State BJJ Championships in Detroit over the weekend. Vince Barber and Michael Graham walked away with two gold apiece on December 11th, after each bumped up divisions in both Gi and No-gi.

Fifteen year-old green belt Vince Barber was itching to compete after a dominant showing at the World IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Championship in November. Eyeing the AGF’s 2021 Michigan State Championship and normally competing at 130lbs in the teen Orange-Green belt division, available opponents were limited in that category. But instead of waiting, Barber decided to bump up to the juvenile Blue 145lbs division for Gi and No-Gi.

“It was the only division I could fight at,” said Barber. “There was no one my age or a green belt so I just went into the closest division to mine.”

Vince Barber

The tougher division hardly slowed him as once again Barber showcased his open guard skill. Utilizing his berimbolo game to go for leg attacks, Barber was able to secure points for sweeps, passes and back-takes. After fast-paced matches that went the distance Barber defeated his older, larger, higher-ranked opponent not once, but twice to secure gold medals in both his divisions. Final scores were 19-2 for no-gi and 6-2 in the gi.

Michael Graham found himself in a similar situation as Barber, having no opponents in his Juvenile Blue Belt division. Eager to return to competition alongside his longtime friend and training partner, Graham set out on the same path, bumping up to the adult division, where competitors awaited.

Opposites on the mats, for all of Barber’s refined finesse is Michael Graham’s sheer force of will. Utilizing a completely different style, Graham played the top game to plow through his older opponents. Winning with a Darce choke in his no-gi division and by decision in the gi, Graham brought home gold medals in both.

After their first appearance as teen dynamic duo, Vince Barber and Michael Graham showcased what youth jiu jitsu is all about; learning a skill, staying disciplined in that skill, and testing that skill against tough opponents to grow and excel.

And making lifelong friends on the way? That’s the best part.

See you on the mats.

IMG 5797 Rotated, Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Saginaw MI
Vince Barber and Michael Graham show off their hard-earned gold.

Lauren LaCourse

12/16/2021

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