The “Who Is Who” of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Europe
2nd European Championship set to rock Portugal in January
Phenom Ronaldo Jacare is confirmed on the event
After the successful incursion in Europe earlier this year, the International Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is already on the countdown for their first calendar event of 2005.
The 2nd European Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship will once again take place in Lisbon, Portugal, on the 29th and 30th of January. And the organizers expect this time an even tougher competition. “2004 was like a thermometer for us. We got to see how BJJ is developing in Europe and what countries are on top of the wave in the continent”, says Carlos Gracie Jr. “I’m sure the tournament is going to grow and achieve more recognition, after all it’s a unique chance for practitioners to measure their skills against people from other countries in an official international competition”, he adds.
That means competitors can expect the same formula and organization used in the Mundial – the famed World Championship held in Rio de Janeiro every year since 1996. Top notch facilities, lots of mat areas, international referees, and really cool medals in addition to a unique chance to witness Europe’s best BJJ fighters in action.
One of the highlights of the event will be sensation Ronaldo Jacare, who’s the current World and Pan-Am absolute champion. He will be coming to Portugal to show his incredible arsenal of takedowns and wicked submissions. Definitely a must see.
A number of categories will be at stake, from white to black belt, including age groups like juniors (16-17 year-olds) and seniors (over 30 years of age).
With less than 50 days left till the tournament, expectations are running high on what countries will dominate the competition. Let’s take a look at some of the main forces:
United Kingdom – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is growing at a fast pace in Britain. There are schools practically everywhere and quite a few Brazilians teaching around. Gracie Barra is definitely the most representative team. Led by Mauricio Gomes and his son Roger Gracie, and with the support of standouts Braulio Estima and Felipe Souza, GB has a strong network of gyms. From their HQ in London all the way up to Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast, just to name a few, Gracie Barra will certainly bring home some medals.
The Straight Blast Gym is also a force to be reckoned with and they will once again make noise in Portugal. Under the guidance of Karl Tanswell, they will have great support from John Kavanagh’s Dublin based powerhouse.
Let’s not forget Master Team and their leader Roger Brooking, who put on an amazing performance earlier this year in Portugal.
Other traditional schools that are represented in the UK include the Carlson Gracie Team, the Brazilian Top Team and Roberto Atalla’s Rio Grappling Club.
Scandinavia – The Vikings have always caused a lot of hype in the international BJJ scene. Their top spot in Europe might be at stake though, since the brits have been working hard lately. Great battles are being expected and only God knows who will come out on top in Portugal. Norway has well-known names such as Jon Olav Einemo and Joachim Hansen. But black belt Marcelo Yogui, who’s Einemo’s and Hansen’s teacher and has been established in the country for many years now, promises some surprises of his own: “My school has around 200 students and they all train hard. We are going to Portugal to win medals”, he assures with a confident smile.
In Sweden pretty much the same is being expected. A few months ago over 300 competitors gathered in the city of Malmoe for the Scandinavian Open, a tournament that has been growing every year. Brasa Team and SBJJA are the two main schools in the country, although practitioners of traditional Ju-Jitsu and Judo very often venture in BJJ events.
Down south, in Denmark, BJJ has finally taken a leap forward. After some great results at the Scandinavian Open, the CHOKE BJJ Academy established itself as the main school in the country. The recent arrival of instructor Iran Mascarenhas, from Nova Uniao, brought a new team into the scene: Mikenta Gym. Other notables are Combat Sports Academy, Brasa Team and Jorgenson Academia.
All the way up north, though, are some of Europe’s toughest newcomers. Finland’s Alliance and Master Teams did great at the first European Championship, and more is being expected from them next year.
Holland – One of the first European countries to be introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Holland has now a number of strong schools. Remco Pardoel’s great gym in Oss is the most traditional one. Brazilian standout Cadu Francis runs Yamasaki branches, while the local Harold Harder stays close to the source with a highly regarded Rickson Gracie Affiliated School.
Germany – After years of hard training and many trips to Brazil, Michael Haselein was finally awarded his black belt. He runs the German Federation and is sure to make some noise with his team in Lisbon. From Berlin, the X-Step Gym will be back for some more medals.
Spain – Robin Gracie has been a reference in Europe for many years, and his Barcelona based team is definitely one of the strongest contestants for 2005. Robin will also have students coming from Switzerland to compete. In Madrid, Fabricio Werdum’s Behring Team completes the Spanish Package.
France – BJJ seems to be finally on the right track in France with a number of good schools in the country. Aziz Cherigui’s Gracie Barra, the Fernandez Brothers’ De La Riva Team and Alliance are the most notable ones. It also seems that K-1 fighter and ADCC veteran Kristof Midoux, a brown belt in BJJ, will be traveling to Portugal this coming January to represent CHOKE BJJ Academy and battle with the big guys.
Portugal – Playing hosts to the event for the second year in a row and due to their close relations with Brazil, a LOT of Portuguese fighters will be wearing their gis and going to war on the mats.
Brazilians – Since this is an open tournament, many Brazilian fighters – beside the mighty might Jacare – are also being expected in all belt divisions. The first European Championship earlier this year had some great black belt action from names such as Lucio Lagarto (now based in Portugal), Carlos Portugues, Admilson Juquinha, Carlao Santos, Felipe Jerry, Carlos Escorrega and Wellington Megaton. This tournament is a unique chance to witness black belt matches involving top Brazilian names.
HOW TO ENROLL:
If you are into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then you cannot miss this opportunity to compete in the European Championship. You can sign up online until January 24th and find all relevant information at the International Federation web site: www.cbjj.com.br/english/european2005.htm