The 2009 BJJ International Master & Senior Championship in the Tijuca Tennis Club.
by Jordan Blanchard
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu International Master & Senior Championship (IMSC) occurred in Rio De Janeiro on July 24th, 25th & 26th. Occurring at the same time and place is the Rio Open – which is for younger competitors.
The IMSC is a IBJJF sponsored event, so anyone that has attended the Pan Am’s, Mundials, etc. will feel right at home at this tournament. It had the same tournament management, head refs, etc. I must say that the officiating is the best I have ever seen. The refs were consistent and actively engaged in the match they were officiating. The entire tournament ran strictly on time. If your class was scheduled for 4:00 PM, it was called at 4:00 PM. Very refreshing and quite necessary as the call ups are only in Portuguese and broadcast over an audio system that is inaudible. Like any IBJJF tournament, the staff was very strict on uniforms and weight, so be prepared.
One of the concerns I had going into the tournament was the quality of the medical care in case of injury. That was not a concern, the emergency technicians were experienced, calm, and professional. I can’t (thankfully) speak to the quality of hospital care, but the medical staff attended to some relatively serious injuries quite admirably.
The location of the tournament was at the Tijuca Tennis Club. The venue would be considered ‘gritty’ by American standards, but the mats were clean and of good quality. I would recommend wearing shoes or sandals prior to your match. Tijuca is a suburb of Rio. It is a tough neighborhood so none of the American competitors I spoke to actually stayed there. Most stayed in the beach areas of Copacabana, Ipanema, or Barra Da Tijuca (which is different than Tijuca). The beach side towns are safe, clean, and lot a fun. Tijuca is about 40 miles away and about a $25 cab ride each way.
The competition at the tournament is the toughest I have ever seen for this age group. It was mostly Americans and Brazilians, with a few other nationalities. The Americans had their fair share of champions and place winners, but the Brazilians were much tougher than you would find at an American tournament – which is understandable given the cost of travel. It’s worth noting that this tournament had Senior classes of 1-5 versus the standard 1-3 found at the Pan Am’s and other American tournaments. I would like to give special recognition to Patrick Robinson, a brown belt Senior 2 competitor from Chicago who placed first in his weight class and second overall in the absolute (out of 16). This was Patrick’s 4th or 5th IMSC and he really showed his experience.
The tournament was attended by some well known black belts including Wellington (Megaton) Dias who won both his class and the absolute, Jack McVicker, Amal Easton, Eduardo Telles, and a host of top flight Brazilians that I wish I knew more about. A full listing of results can be found here.
My team, Gracie Barra won the event – which is saying something because many more BJJ schools from Brazil attended this event. I attended the tournament with my instructor, Ricardo Guimaraes, who runs a GB school in Temecula, CA. Ricardo placed third in his weight class. As an added treat, Ricardo and I trained at the Gracie Barra school in Barra Da Tijuca before and after the tournament. It was a special privilege to attend the home of the GB world wide family of schools and competitors. On average, there were 50-60 students per night, 10-12 black belts, and attendees from all over the world. Not only was the class competition the toughest I have ever experienced, but the students were, by far, the nicest, most accommodating I have had the pleasure of training with.
Things I learned in Brazil:
- There are no self serve laundromats (none that I could find anyway). So be prepared to drop off your gi and clothes at a dry-cleaner type service with a delayed pickup (and similar cost).
- You can’t get a decent cup of coffee, espresso’s are as close as you get.
- You have to cab EVERYWHERE.
- Don’t go to the favelas (shanty towns).
- Soccer is really, really serious. As in make sure you are rooting for the home team if you attend a game.
- The food is fantastic, even the smallest establishments have great food.
- The pharmacies are great, you can purchase many item over the counter at a very fair price.
- The beer is better in America.
- America needs more Brazilian Steakhouses.
- The flight is brutal, 10 hours from Atlanta, so make sure you arrive at least one day early for recovery.
- You can’t find an American newspaper in the entire city.
- Don’t plan on shopping in Brazil. Due to tariffs and import costs, things cost 2-3 times what they do in America.
- The beaches are second to none.
- Christo Redemptor (Christ the Redeemer) and Suger Loaf are two attractions that have to be visited.
Conclusion: I would recommend this experience to any Master or Senior BJJ competitor. Not only will you get to test yourself against the top competition in the world, you will get to experience Brazil and the home of BJJ.
Jordan Blanchard is a senior 2 brown belt and trains under Ricardo Guimaraes at Gracie Barra – Temecula, California.
This is an installment in our Tournament Review Tuesdays column, where FightWorks Podcast listeners submit reports about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions that happened the weekend prior. Through the rest of 2009, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!
The opinions expressed in Tournament Review Tuesday pieces do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast.