Costa Rica Has a Multifaceted and Unstoppable Champion of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

    Kenneth Ureña only 16 years old has achieved great international feats with martial arts, leaving the country Pura Vida! in high...

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    From the province of Cartago in Costa Rica, comes Kenneth Ureña, a young man -a Costa Rican pride-, who from a very young age, with only 8 years old, is part of the world of martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    Today, He is 16 years old and is considered -an eminence- within the sport, who has left the name of Costa Rica very high.

    Through our conversation with Kenneth, we learned details about his life, his essence, his performance as an athlete, and his purposes.

    The young martial arts lover spent his childhood surrounded by the city and parks in Cartago. He made special mention of his parents, who instilled in him values such as perseverance, honesty, and respect. “These principles I carry with me in my daily life and my sports career, both student,” he said.

    Currently, he resides in La Union, San Juan (Villas de Ayarco) in Cartago.

    A real champion

    We contacted Kenneth after noticing his skills at the Miami 2024 International Open, which was held in February. Beyond everything always in TCRN, we consider that each character is much more than the merits he has, and in the following paragraphs you will confirm it.

    In the Miami International Open, Ureña won 3 gold medals and 1 bronze medal, in the categories: Gi (with kimono), no Gi (without kimono) also considered as Grappling, absolute Gi (bronze), and absolute no Gi.

    That is, one of the gold medals was obtained in the middleweight division, with and without a kimono.

    Another gold medal was in the absolute division without kimono and he added a bronze medal in the absolute division with kimono, making his Jiu-Jitsu performance very clear.

    Before the competition, Kenneth said his mind was focused, on determination. “Besides that, two weeks before the Miami Open, I was competing in the European Championships in France, where I took first place in my category. During the fights, I faced tactical challenges, but persistence and confidence in my training was the key to my victory.

    Another of her challenges was in her beloved Costa Rica in the Ligabjj tournament held on March 10 at the Heredia Convention Center, where she won gold. Another competition is the Pan American Gi in Orlando. “I am excited about what the competitions have been, in which I have shown my dedication and skills on the tatami” he expressed during the pleasant conversation.

    Beginnings, inspiration, and dedication

    For Kenneth Ureña, Costa Rica is a constant source of inspiration. “The exuberant nature, the kindness of the people, and the richness of our traditional food are aspects that feed my spirit and motivate me to give the best of me,” he emphasized.

    Since he was a child, he has always been active and passionate about sports. He started with more conventional disciplines such as swimming and soccer but discovered that his true passion is Jiu-Jitsu, after having to use it as a self-defense against bullying.

    He is in the world of Jiu-Jitsu thanks to his father Kenneth Ureña Valverde and his mother Jenny Araya Vargas, who inspired and guided him in his first steps with the sport, they continue to do so today. “Their dedication and knowledge have been fundamental in my development as an athlete.”

    Today, he remains focused on his career in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and his high school studies. The focus is to continue perfecting his skills in the sport he loves and to be a very good student until he pursues a career.

    Very importantly, when starting Jiu-Jitsu, Kenneth was presented with challenges, especially in adapting to the technical and tactical complexities, however, with time and dedication, he overcame these difficulties and found his rhythm in the sport.

    Pillars in the sport

    When we asked the young martial arts feat about her pillars within the sport, she replied that they are discipline, determination, and humility. “Besides my family, my coaches and academy (Avenida 04 Jiu-Jitsu), play a crucial role in my development. Danny Ramirez my Jiu-Jitsu teacher here in CR and Don Jonny Calderon my physical trainer and one of the pillars in gymnastics here in CR, Bruno Malfacine from the USA, they help me improve in every training and are people I deeply admire and respect”.

    Kenneth’s Routine

    The athlete’s daily routine includes technical, physical, and strategic training. Nutrition is an essential part of his preparation, focusing on a balanced diet to maximize performance. He dedicates approximately 5 hours a day to his training from Monday to Saturday.

    Details about the categories he practices

    She has competed in various categories throughout her career from teen to today as a junior -2 in blue belt- “Currently, I compete in the “medium heavy” category.

    Do you prefer with or without a kimono?

    “I enjoy both modalities (Gi and no Gi), but my preference varies depending on the training approach. The kimono adds a fascinating technical dimension, while the non-kimono variant emphasizes speed and agility,” Ureña explained.

    The essence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, compared to other martial arts and what should a practitioner have?

    For Kenneth, the essence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lies in the ability to level the playing field, where technique trumps brute force. “Unlike other martial arts, Jiu-Jitsu encourages adaptability and resilience in diverse situations.”

    Also, in his view, the key to being a successful practitioner or competitor in Jiu-Jitsu in general, is maintaining a disciplined and focused mindset. “Perseverance, respect for others and oneself, as well as the humility to keep learning, are fundamental. Dedication to training and the ability to overcome challenges are essential qualities to achieve success in this demanding but rewarding path,” he added.

    Competitions and achievements he has obtained

    Throughout his career, Kenneth has had the honor of winning numerous awards and medals in competitions with Jiu-Jitsu both nationally and internationally, to name a few: Pan Kids, European Kids 2022, LigaBjj 2023, American National 2023 and European 2024 Gi.

    In the United States, Ireland, and France, he won second place in the Pan Kids; in the European Kids he won first place; in the Jiu-Jitsu Con he won first place (in the non-Gi category second place); in the American National he won first place with the non-Gi category and second place with the Gi category and in the European 2024, he won first place with the Gi category. “Each competition has been an opportunity to grow and learn, thus building my career in this exciting sport.”

    The world championships have been specifically in California, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, Texas, Ireland, France, Colombia, and Mexico.

    Difficult moments

    Talking about the difficult moments that human beings go through in life, Kenneth recalled a challenging one at the 2022 Pan Kids, “I went into the fight 3 weeks after breaking the thumb on my right hand. Both in and out of the sport, I have learned to face challenges with determination and resilience. My ability to overcome adversity has been forged on the tatami and has given me valuable tools to face difficult situations in everyday life,” he said.


    How do you visualize yourself, who do you admire, do you have hobbies?

    Although he has achieved a lot so far, there are always areas to grow and improve, so consider the young Tico. “In the future, I set goals such as practicing techniques that cost me, to continue to evolve as an athlete and reach 10 golds in world Gi and not in the black belt where they give a plaque to the athlete”.

    He deeply admires Bruno Malfacine, an international figure who, in his opinion, has shown incredible qualities, reaching 10 golds in black belt world championships. “His contribution to Jiu-Jitsu and his dedication, inspire my commitment to excellence and constant growth.”

    Regarding whether or not he has hobbies, outside of sports Ureña watches anime series, an activity that allows him to disconnect and recharge his energy to face the challenges in his athletic life.


    Virtues and shortcomings

    As an elite athlete, he is defined by having an unwavering determination and constant pursuit of excellence. “My virtues include discipline, resilience, and the ability to work as part of a team. I recognize my shortcomings, such as lack of time, but I see it as an opportunity to grow and have my day very well organized to fulfill my sport and my studies. My approach is to turn every challenge into an opportunity to better myself.”

    A motivational message

    Finally, Kenneth Ureña shared a message with all his followers and our valued readers, “Excellence is not achieved overnight; it requires patience, dedication, discipline, and an unwavering mentality. Face each day with determination, turning obstacles into stepping stones to reach your goals. Remember that the process is as valuable as the result. Trust in yourself, work tirelessly, and never underestimate the power of your resilience. Together, we can reach new heights. Let’s go for more!” he said.

    We are proud to talk with a Tico talent, such as Kenneth, who at only 16 years old has an admirable maturity of thought and action. We are sure that he will achieve all his personal goals and in his passion, Jiu-Jitsu.

    If you want to know more about Kenneth Ureña’s activities, you can follow him on his social networks: Instagram: @kenbjjcr.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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