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2016: IBJJF European Championship

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Laurien Zurhake

In the BJJ world there are many tournaments, but when one utters the word ‘Europeans’, everyone knows exactly about what this person is talking about. In the first month of this year (20-24th of January 2016) it was organized again. And a Team, the Pound for Pound Team, counting twenty-five fighters travelled to Portugal. They accepted the challenge to step on the mats and to test their abilities to the utmost. We did well, for not only did every Pound for Pound Team member acquire valuable experiences and gave the best they had, we also brought home 5 medals, of which one was gold (Benedikt Johannes Schotthöfer – brown belt division / master 1 / male / light) and four were bronze (Miguel Maria Ferreira Mariz Ruivo WHITE / Juvenile 1 / Male / Middle, Petrit Memeti BLUE / Master 1 / Male / Light Feather, Bruno Miguel Semedo Mendes Ferreira BLUE / Master 1 / Male / Light, Mirza Karac PURPLE / Adult / Male / Ultra Heavy). Simply an amazing feat when you take into account that one bracket could count up to sixty combatants or that the PDF file containing all the fighters was more than 80 pages long!

We tend to focus on results only, because that is something tangible, something you can grab and show. But what about the intangible processes behind these results? You do not see the hardship, commitment, failures, the blood, sweat and tears that lead to success. I myself was not present during the Europeans itself, but I did witness the processes and preparation of my fellow Team members. The endless repetition and drilling; oh the single leg did not work out well enough? Then, drill longer! Thus said our professor Sergio ‘Canudo’ Zimmermann. And longer drilling they did. Eating clean, sometimes cutting weight, trying to come to training as often as possible, even though many have full time jobs and families. It is simply not that easy. For instance, because BJJ is not purely a somatic exercise, quite on the contrary, the mind is at least equally as important. The ability to move and apply techniques is one thing, but to be able to read and feel your opponent, to find the holes in his or her game and to be as swift as possible to counter react is another. The Pound for Pound Team is lucky to find such a versatile professor in Sergio ‘Canudo’ Zimmermann and to find divergent training mates who improve your game.

Another interesting feature is the aftermath: behind the scenes you most likely do not know what happens after a prestigious tournament. It does not mean that it is over it just continues and is one important stepping stone on your BJJ path. You can notice the differences in those who competed immediately when they are back on their ‘own-home-mats’. It is incredible how profound the impact is and how directly it affects and improves their abilities and tactics.

We are proud of our fighters and see you next time on the mats!