Edwin Najmi: Jiu-Jitsu Powerhouse
When Edwin Najmi was born on January 22, 1992 in Tarzana, California, his Armenian parents had no idea what kind of future their son would end up having in the world of jiu-jitsu. Family gatherings during his younger years included time spent with cousins, some of whom would engage in playful ‘beat downs.’ These experiences ended up driving Najmi’s interest in martial arts and combat sports.
As he grew older and his interest in jiu-jitsu became more focused, Najmi began searching for a facility to continue and refine his training. He decided on a judo dojo led by a coach of the Gokor Chivichyan (Gene Lebell) lineage, which would prove to be instrumental in the foundational work of Najmi’s training and style. The dojo focused heavily on groundwork, including special Friday sessions where the practice would revolve a great deal around the submission technique of sparring.
The Friday class quickly became Najmi’s favorite session, and training with this type of focus helped Najmi determine that he should seek out a new gym, focused on Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so that he could train more specifically in the style he preferred. In 2009, Najmi decided to join the Gracie Barra gym, conveniently located near his childhood home.
This gym was tied to Romulo Barral, a very well-known jiu-jitsu athlete with a strong reputation. It did not take long for Barral to appreciate Najmi’s skill and talent, and he used his expertise to help the young prodigy. They worked together to refine and enhance Najmi’s technique. They paid particular attention to his spider guard methodology, as it became clear early that this would be a technique that Najmi could already perform well but could work on perfecting as his training progressed.
Barral used some unconventional techniques to perfect Najmi’s spider guard, making him play spider guard defense for two to three months in every single session, rather than allowing him to submit or sweep. Najmi attributes this training method to helping him improve his spider guard.
Najmi’s dedication helped him advance quickly through the belt ranking system. With far fewer years of training than many other athletes, he earned a spot in the Copa Podio professional event in 2015. Even though he only had a brown belt at the time, Najmi defeated Alex Cabanes, an accomplished black belt athlete in the sport.
Najmi continued to train in the sport on his way to earning a black belt. Under Barral’s tutelage, he refined and evolved his techniques in different ways to help keep him in top form. His hard work paid off in May 2015, when Edwin Najmi won the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship for the third time. As a bonus award, he also earned his black belt on the podium, delivered by Romulo Barral himself. Najmi’s career highlights include:
- 2018 IBJJF European Open champion 3rd Place
- 2017 ACBJJ LW Grand Prix champion
- 2017 ACBJJ 7 Grand Prix No-Gi champion 2nd Place
- 2017 UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro champion 2nd Place
- 2016 IBJJF World Champion 2nd Place
- 2016 IBJJF Pans Champion
- 2016 FIVE Super League champion
- 2015 IBJJF World Champion (brown belt)
- 2015 IBJJF European Open champion (brown belt)
- 2015 IBJJF Pans Champion (brown belt)
- 2014 IBJJF World Champion 2nd Place (brown belt)
- 2014 IBJJF World Champion (purple belt)
- 2014 IBJJF Pans Champion (purple belt)
- 2012 IBJJF Pans Champion (blue belt)
- 2011 IBJJF Pans Champion (blue belt)
Edwin Najmi has continued to participate in jiu-jitsu battles, boasting a 12-4 record in 2017 and a 9-7 record in 2018.