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IBJJF Pan Ams is being held at the Bren Center in Irvine, CA this year from March 8-12. This is one of the biggest Jiu Jitsu Competitions in the World bringing the best Athletes from all over the world!
This year, Pacific Top Team Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Corona has a competition team of 10 competitors that have set their sights on the Pan Am Podium. Meet our competitors below and learn about their journey to get where they are!
Meet Our Competitors!!!
Name: Bianca Apostol.
Division: White, Master 1 Feather.
Favorite thing about Competing? My favorite thing about competing is the camaraderie I get with my teammates. I compete because it is good to get over certain fears and work outside your comfort zone.
How you have worked training into your everyday life? I train when I can and I am still managing Jiu Jitsu with my work and life schedule.
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams?
I feel that the grind of shark tanking has helped with my Jiu Jitsu cardio and instincts in general.
Name: Steven Simms
Division: White, Master 2, Ultra heavy
Favorite thing about Competing? My favorite thing about competing is being able to confront the fear of confrontation. I feel that I win by just showing up to compete.
How you have worked training into your everyday life? I am still finding striking a balance between work and Jiu Jitsu. I hope one day to find that balance (haha).
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? The side conferences with my professor and coaches discussing an idea has definitely helps grab my attention with Jiu Jitsu during training camp.
Name: Gina Zika
Russel Zika 14
Sophia Zika 13
Occupation: stay-at-home Mom (maid, chauffeur, cook 🤣)
Division fighting at Pan Ams: women’s, blue belt, master’s 4, light
Favorite thing about Competing? Being able to go 100% to test my skills and find my weakness
How you have worked training into your everyday life? It’s my main form of exercise. I love to eat and if I didn’t have BJJ I’d be 1000lbs. Sure there are other forms of exercise but BJJ is fun so it keeps my interest. But my daughter keeps me honest to go in every day and Professor Talita has this saying that you are always able to give 1%.
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams?
It’s an all-inclusive thing. What I mean is that every part of the training camp has given me something that the other parts don’t. Like the drilling gives me the quick reaction time; the situational training gives me the ability to try out those tough spots and test what works for me and what doesn’t; the sparring/rolling puts it all together. They each work in conjunction to help build my confidence which is the mental game. Ultimately, you need every part to be at your best. Now if we’re talking which I “like” the best, that’s easy I would say the drilling.
Age: 43yrs old
Spouse/Kids:Erik (Husband); Milani 22, Austin soon to be 9, Chase 7 and Aj 3 Division: White, Masters 2, medium
Favorite thing about competing: Finding the courage to step out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there.
How you have worked training into your everyday life? I definitely would not be able to do this without the support of my husband. He steps up and takes care of our children and the house so I can be as prepared as I can. I try to train 3-4 days a week sometimes for 2 hrs. This is all after a long day at work. My days start at 430 and usually end around 11pm. No rest for the wicked!
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams?I adore and look up to my training partners. Each one brings a little something different to the table and I appreciate them all!
Name: Felipe Hennings.
Division: Blue, Adult, Light weight,
Favorite thing about Competing? I like to compete because it gives me many emotions, it is also a way to see my progress as an athlete and so I can correct my mistakes for the next tournament and reach my goals.
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams?It has helped me train every day, focus on doing my game well and apply it in every fight I have.
Name: Antonella daiana Muñoz Mareco
Occupation: social worker
Division: adult, white, light
Favorite thing about Competing? What I like the most about the competition is feeling that adrenaline and desires to give the best of myself and apply everything I have learned
How you have worked training into your everyday life? The bjj has helped me to be a disciplined person, to have a record in everything I do and it has helped me to carry my life in a better way
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? These days here with Professor JP has helped me to plan my game, thanks to the techniques and tools that he has given us, today thanks to all these trainings I feel more confident in front of the competition
Name: María Jesús Rojas Aravena
Division: Master 1, blue, light
Favorite thing about Competing?What I like the most about competing is to test myself and realize that I can do more than I imagined
How you have worked training into your everyday life? Training has helped me to improve my tolerance, my discipline and it has made me a better person every day
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? What has helped me improve for pan ams is the training with my colleagues and the constant support of our teacher JP and coach Kim, they worry every day to improve our shortcomings and give us the necessary tools to give the best each
Name: Brianne Gomez
Spouse: Bernie Gomez
Occupation: Undergraduate Business Advisor at the University of California, Riverside
Division: White, Masters I, Super Heavy
Favorite thing about Competing? Finding the wholes in my BJJ and learning how to perfect them.
How you have worked training into your everyday life? I try to train at least 5 days a week, sometimes doing two classes a night.
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? The drills that we have been doing and the consistent sparring to simulate a real match. Professor JP saying "if you are training, you should stay for the next class" has been helpful. Also, having the Chileans here has been nice to work with other students. I have enjoyed sparring with them, and them teaching me some technique. I have enjoyed seeing my fellow trainees, who started training BJJ around the same time as me, going to compete at PAN AMS. There is this sense of shared humanity knowing that I am not alone and that I have my PTT Family supporting me.
Name: Veasna Chiek
Spouse/kids: Tessa (wife), Luke (7), Michael (5), Zoey (2)
Occupation: Mathematics Professor
Division fighting at Pan Ams: White, Master 3, Middle
Favorite thing about Competing? I love comradely with my team mates
How you have worked training into your everyday life? I view mistakes as life's best teachers and take proactive steps to problem solving
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? I love being pushed to exhaustion and the fact that I have awesome training partners
Name: Kim Bowser
Kids: Adam (19), Andrew (13), Alex (11), Arie (9)
Occupation: Martial Arts Instructor and Academy Manager
Division fighting at Pan Ams: Purple, Master 1, Medium Heavy
Favorite thing about Competing? I love that it pushes me to keep focused with my training. It's a fun time to test my skills against other female competitors of my belt rank.
How you have worked training into your everyday life? Life is busy working full time and being a single mom to 4 kids. But training is important to be so I it has a priority in my life. Sometimes I have to duck out early to pick my kids up, but any training is better than skipping it all together.
What about the training camp has helped you to feel the most prepared for Pan Ams? Professor JP always knows the perfect drills to get us comp ready. The drills, extra 6am Competition Classes and Sharks tanks have helped me to feel sharp and ready to have fun at Pan Ams!
A Big Thank you to our Leader and Head Instructor at Pacific Top Team Corona, Professor JP Garcia for sharing your knowledge and for all the tie and effort you have put into this Pan Ams camp and getting us all ready!!! Now its time to have fun and show our skills!!
Interested in competition Jiu Jitsu and joining our competition team? Contact us at
(951) 662-0162 today to set up your first class!!
Sophia Zika from Pacific Top Team in Corona represented at IBJJF's Pan Kids over the weekend. Pan Kids is the most prestigious tournament for kids and brings kids from all over the World to compete. Sophia has been working very hard for this event, training at 6am before school and then back at night for multiple classes. She is usually one of the last to leave the mats each night. She inspires all of us with her hard work, dedication to the sport and overall great attitude. A big part of her success goes to her parent's Robert and Gina Zika for supporting her journey as a Jiu Jitsu competitor in a healthy way. They are happy to see her train, compete and support what she does with out forcing her to do it or putting more pressure on her results!
Sophia fought 3 fights at Pan Kids. She won the first two, one by points and the other with a bow and arrow choke from the back. The finals was an exciting, full action fight against a tough opponent. Sophia looked amazing but ultimately lost by just 1 point.
We couldn't be more proud of Sophia!!! We looking forward to watching your continued growth and success on the Jiu Jitsu Competition Scene. Much Love!!