VACAVILLE — Vacaville resident and Vanden High School graduate Craig Doerfert won gold at the recent 2022 World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Las Vegas.
Doerfert, a 13th seed out of 14-person bracket, competed in the Men’s Master 5/Brown/Heavy and won four matches (two by submission) to claim victory.
“It’s been a bucket list thing for me since I started competing,” Doerfert said of competing at the worlds. “I did expect to do well or I wouldn’t have signed up for it. I have a pretty extensive wrestling background and that is a good base for Jiu-Jitsu.”
Doerfert, who graduated from Vanden High School in 1988, trained at Fabio Prado Academy in Dixon from 2016-2020 where he received his white, blue and purple belts. He has trained for the past two years at the Rodrigo Cordoso Academy in Vacaville.
Cordosa was matside at the competition, coaching Doerfert for all four bouts and presented the surprised champion with his black belt on the podium.
“I saw three others get their black belts from the coaches and I thought that was pretty cool,” Doerfert said. “When my professor gave me my black belt I thought that was really cool. It’s a great community of people, aside from the competition.”
Doerfert’s wife Heidi was able to make the event, along with her father Don Schmitz, a great fan of Craig’s competition. It was an inspiration to him having his father-in-law in person at the competition.
Doerfert, a former high school and college wrestler, started practicing jiu jitsu in 2016 and took first place in several Northern California tournaments in white, blue and purple belts before the World Master’s win.
He placed fourth in the California “CIF” State Wrestling Championships in 1987 and 1988 and finished his senior year at Vanden High School with a 141-21 record. Doerfert received a Division 1 scholarship to California State University, Bakersfield, where he made the travel team as a freshman.
Doerfert finished out his last year of eligibility in 1990 at Diablo Valley College with a 35-1 record and a CCCAA state championship.
Updated to correct spelling of Rodrigo Cordoso Academy.