In what was undoubtedly the best year of Steffen Banta’s career, he won brown belt gold at the Worlds, Worlds No-Gi, Pans, Pans No-Gi, Europeans No-Gi, and American Nationals gi and no-gi. The competition results led to Steffen earning the #1 overall no-gi ranking for adult male brown belt athletes. Steffen had the following to say about his accomplishments this past year.
“This year's results felt like the culmination of years of work. Tournaments, especially the majors, are won months, and years, before the tournaments happen. Being under the bright lights is just a time to showcase the work that has been put in. Winning Worlds in both gi and no-gi was the perfect way to finish off the year and I believe it showed my versatility as an athlete. I had high expectations going into Worlds No-Gi. My Professor has been mentally pushing me for months for that open class title. We had relative confidence that I could win my division, which I was able to do with a 100% submission rate. There were so many great athletes this year at Worlds No-Gi, and I knew everyone would be vying for the open class title. Also winning the open class title with my dad mat side was special, and it’s a memory I will keep forever!”
After capping off a brown belt season with two gold medals at the Worlds No-Gi, Steffen was promoted to black belt on December 17, 2022 by long time coach and mentor Joao Gabriel Rocha. Rocha, a 2X Pan and Brazilian National Champion, has been leading the Alliance Jiu Jitsu team in Dallas, Texas, developing high level competitors along the way. The promotion came after years of consistency in training and competition.
“It means everything to get my black belt under Joao Rocha. I told him when I was a blue belt that my dream was to receive the black belt under him and that I wanted to be one of his first black belts. Joao’s only other blackbelt is his brother, Pedro Rocha. To be included in that small list is humbling, and unbelievable. Joao and I have a lot of goals, and we are hoping to accomplish them together!”
Steffen Banta’s 2022 brown belt run has made him one of the most promising black belt prospects of 2023. He’ll make his black belt debut in Paris, France at the IBJJF European Jiu-Jitsu Championships on Saturday January 28th. His division, super-heavy, includes Marcus “Scooby” Ribeiro, Harryson Pereira, and 2X World Champion Kaynan Duarte, so he’ll be jumping right into the fire.
“I won double gold at the No-Gi Europeans in Rome last year. But I’ve never competed in the gi Europeans. I’m going there with a fresh and hopeful mind. Jumping into the deep end for my first event at black belt is a big step, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Looking ahead to the rest of 2023, Steffen hopes to continue to test himself throughout the entire year. He’ll have no shortage of opportunities as major tournaments approach and the black belt divisions continue to get deeper with young, hungry competitors.
“I want to compete as much as possible. I hope to have a great first year at black belt. I never expect results, but I will put the hard work in to hopefully yield the results I'm looking for.”
Watch the IBJJF European Jiu-Jitsu Championships starting on Monday January 23rd and running through Sunday January 29th. You can catch all the action exclusively on FloGrappling.com