RMC anesthesiologist wins a martial arts championship
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
May 15, 2013 | 9777 views |  0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ricky Tubbs, an anesthesiologist at Regional Medical Center, displays his awards from the 2013 World Grappling Championship. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Ricky Tubbs, an anesthesiologist at Regional Medical Center, displays his awards from the 2013 World Grappling Championship. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
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Dr. Ricky Tubbs takes away pain for a living.

During his off hours, however, he shares it with others.

Tubbs, 53, an anesthesiologist at Regional Medical Center who lives in Talladega, spends his off hours training to hurt people. His pain delivery system of choice is Brazilian jujitsu, a type of martial art that involves many grappling techniques.

He is also quite good at it.

Tubbs proved his skills on April 21 when he defeated three opponents in New Jersey to win the 2013 World Grappling Championship in the North American Grappling Association or NAGA.

"I just love to compete and still have the physical capacity to compete," Tubbs said.

According to its website, NAGA hosts the largest grappling tournaments in the country for mixed-martial arts. The April grappling championship had about 1,500 competitors of various age groups and has been held for the past 19 years.

"It is usually one of the top five events for a number of competitors," said Joe Cuff, vice president of NAGA. "So far it has been the largest event for us in 2013."

Tubbs said he became interested in martial arts in California 10 years ago when his son started learning it.

"He showed me some of the moves and I thought it was pretty cool," Tubbs said. "I fell in love with it."

Tubbs said he graduated from medical school in 2004 with hopes of working in an emergency room, but then switched and in 2008 became an anesthesiologist — a physician trained to use drugs to sedate patients so they don't feel pain during surgery.

"I wanted to do emergency medicine, but I didn't match anywhere and couldn't find a residency at a hospital," Tubbs said. "So I decided to make a switch ... a lot of guys in emergency medicine switch and go into anesthesia because it’s similar."

Tubbs said winning the grappling championship was no easy task. Not only were his opponents younger than he was, two of them were elite fighters who had higher jujitsu rankings. In jujitsu, a fighter's skill level is shown by the colored belt he or she wears. Those with white belts are the least skilled, followed by blue, purple and brown belts — with black belts being the most skilled.

Tubbs is a purple belt, yet managed to defeat a brown belt and two black belts to clinch the championship.

"Beating a black belt is quite an achievement and even beating a purple belt is great," Cuff said. "Achieving purple means you are very knowledgeable in the art of Brazilian jujitsu."

Tubbs attributes his success to his healthy lifestyle. Tubbs works out six days a week, spending two or three days each week just on jujitsu at a mixed martial arts facility in Childersburg.

"It just shows you can do anything you want, as long as you strive to have a healthy lifestyle," Tubbs said. "I'm making an investment in the future by taking care of myself."

April was not the first time Tubbs has won a fighting championship. He won NAGA's national grappling championship in 2011 and second place in another 2011 grappling world championship held in Brazil by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation.

Tubbs said he is aware that jujitsu fighting and anesthesiology are two things that do not really complement each other.

"It is not typical for my profession ... usually the nerd is a doctor," Tubbs said. "I don't act like a typical doctor.”

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.
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