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2017 proved to be a year of firsts for Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton: Walker Madden became BJJ Stapleton’s first World Champion, winning the 2017 IBJJF No-Gi World Championship Gold Medal in the Ultra Heavy, Blue Belt Division. Approximately 20 hours later, Doomsday Don Westman became BJJ Stapleton’s 2nd World Champion, winning the 2017 IBJJF No-Gi World Championship Gold Medal in the Absolute, Brown Belt Division. That’s right, Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton, a small Colorado based Jiu Jitsu Academy sent a Traveling Combat Crew of 7 athletes consisting of Don Westman, Lewi Gualt, Walker Madden, Heather Westman, Stephanie McPherson Burke, Allison Walters, and Alex Coccaro to the 2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds and two came back IBJJF World Champions! In addition, Heather “The Martyr” Westman returned having won two Silver Medals (Super Heavy, Blue Belt Division & Absolute, Blue Belt Division), “King” Lewi Gault returned having won two Bronze Medals (Middle, Purple Belt Division & Absolute, Purple Belt Division), and Stephanie “Peggy” McPherson Burke returned having won a Bronze Medal (Middle, Blue Belt Division). Brilliant!

It was not easy sailing, competition never is, as competition never goes to plan and there are always unexpected hurdles to overcome, but Lewi Gault described the scene best in his Facebook post:

“Lewi Gault added 2 new photos — with Allison Walters and 7 others.
December 23, 2017 at 6:06pm –

Reflections on last weekend at IBJJF Worlds:

Along with the rest of my team, I witnessed something truly incredible. A feat that could only be accomplished by one human being that I know:

On Sat afternoon after my matches, I was sitting in the back with Walker before his 1st match of the day. Don Westman came in looking chalk white. It turned out that Don had looked at the GI weight class instead of the NOGI (which is significantly lighter). He was almost 8 lbs over his weight limit. If you know anything about IBJJF – you don’t want to be over. You weigh in around 15 mins before you step on the mat and compete. So this was an absolute disaster for Don and the team.
There was no other choice for Don than to get his head down, start cutting and hope for the best.

Now Don being Don did not selfishly think about himself in this instance… He stayed with the team until all our matches were done, which was around 8 pm, not eating and not drinking. Once we got back to the hotel we started to gameplan the next 16 hours or so we had left to lose the weight.

Long story short – Don cut 8 lbs by getting in the hot tub, getting in an Epson salt bath, and putting on a sweat suit underneath a pile of towels. Some real old school, hardcore weight cutting shit. His first match wasn’t scheduled until 5:45 pm, so needless to say when we got to the arena – Don was super dehydrated, hungry and depleted of all energy.
15 mins before his 1st match he weighed in, had some Gatorade and a few bites of a granola bar. Hardly the nutritional feast you would want before you have someone waiting to rip your limbs off in the next few mins!

I won’t continue to bore you with all the little details – but not only did Don manage to step on the mat (a feat in itself)… He went on to win every single one of his matches except 1 (where he did actually tap his opponent, but was out of bounds apparently).

I asked him if he wanted to do the absolute division and we were on the fence if that would be a healthy choice for him. The easy thing to do would be to call it a day, leave the arena and go and eat. His face was still caved in from the cut and he looked thin… But he went for it and of course tapped every single opponent he faced. Every. Single. One. In the absolute final, he did it with seconds to go… The whole team was going nuts, and I was actually close to tears when he won that final match. It was absolutely glorious. A true feat of human heart, determination and will power.

I wanted to tell the whole story, as Don probably will not do it publicly, but you should know that this was a real underdog story and it made the weekend one of the most special that we have had in our team.

Don Westman you are a leader, fighter, and a true inspiration to everyone at Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton. Thank you for everything you do for us. I am honored to have you as a coach and more importantly, a friend. Love you brother!”

King Lewi gave us another moment to remember from the 2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds, however this one was not about the trials and tribulations of championship competition, but instead about the glories of victory; from his Facebook post:

“Lewi Gault is with Allison Walters and 5 others.
December 19, 2017 at 12:37pm ·

When you don’t know it’s Andre Galvao coaching against you – so you wag your finger at him when he says that ‘all you have is a guillotine’… then triangle his guy.
Then very humbly shake his hand hoping that he didn’t take offense to said finger wag. 😬😬”

Thank you to the Traveling Combat Crew for giving us some great reasons to remember 2017! Here’s to a great 2018 competition season!! Go get it Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton!!!

Also of note, and another Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton first, Vance “The Bunny” Barksdale won Purple Belt Gi Submission of the Year in the 2017 Fight To Win Pro Jiu Jitsu Superfights annual “Of The Year Awards.” Vance won the Fight To Win Pro 2017 Purple Belt Gi Submission of the Year with what FloGrappling called the “Super Weird Choke,” which we now know to be the “Bunny Choke.” Check out the full fight video and FloGrappling article at the link below the picture:

Vance “The Bunny” Barksdale – Fight To Win Pro Gi Purple Belt Submission Of The Year –

Link: Bunny Choke Video and “Bunny Choke” article at FloGrappling.


2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Venue –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Podium Pics –

Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton’s First IBJJF World Champion – Walker Madden

IBJJF World Champion – Don Westman

IBJJF Double Silver Medalist – Heather Westman

IBJJF Double Bronze Medalist – Lewi Gault

IBJJF Bronze Medalist – Stephanie McPherson Burke

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Preparation –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – BJJ Stapleton Traveling Combat Crew –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Heading Out To California –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Arrived, Anaheim California, Pre Competition –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – The Calm Before The Storm, Bunk Mates –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Day 1 –

Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stapleton’s First IBJJF World Champion – Walker Madden –

World Champ Walker Madden With King Lewi Sporting The Double Bronze –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – “King” Lewi Gault –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Alex Coccaro –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Day 2 –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Allison “Stella” Walters –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Stephanie “Peggy” McPherson Burke –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Heather “The Martyr” Westman –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – CBJJS Ladies, Post Podium –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – “Doomsday” Don Westman – World Champion –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Post Competition –

2017 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds – Very Nice!

BJJ Stapleton – Excellent Instruction – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Martial Arts – MMA – Self Defense – Fitness – Community – Fun – Denver – Aurora – Colorado