The Mendes brothers, Guilherme and Rafael, traveled to Tokyo, Japan this past weekend as part of their annual trek to compete at the 2014 Rickson Gracie Cup. This time they took a number of their students form GMA Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy. All fared well and the brothers came away with a great experience plus some double gold achievements.
We spoke with Gui Mendes about the trip, what the Jiu-Jitsu scene is like in Japan and how the students did:
GRACIEMAG: What were your matches like in the weight division?
GUILHERME MENDES: Rafael had 3 fights and I had 2, we both were able to finish all our fights with the submission. I used the baseball choke in all the fights of my division and used choke from the back in the absolute, Rafa used armbar, choke and choke from the back.
Who was your toughest match in the open weight?
The level of difficulty was the same as our division. I believe that we fought with no pressure and focused on showing our technique and technical progress so we were able to apply nice moves.
What makes competing in Japan different than the rest? Why do you always keep it in your competition schedule each year?
The energy is different, the level of respect and love of our fans are some things that keep bringing us back every year. We do not do it for the medals or money, we want to be there every year because it’s fantastic to be around people that recognize your work and give the right value to it. Japan is our favorite place to compete so far.
How would you describe the Jiu-Jitsu scene in Japan?
The level of kids, blue belts and purple belts is really good. We saw amazing matches over there. In the brown and black belt [divisions] they have less competitors but it’s still good and fun to compete. It’s growing and in the future it will be even better!
How did your students do?
Great! We had 9 kids from our school competing and it was another successful tournament. They train hard and achieved the result that they were expecting; they made us really proud one more time because we had the opportunity to show our work with the kids in a different country.
A lot of people came to us to say how impressed they were with the level of our students. Also, we had two of the AOJ coaches competing and they did amazing! Mason Monsevais won again, he is an amazing competitor and is building his name in the sport. We can’t wait to see him competing next year. Danny Stolfi is a purple belt middleweight and won double gold submitting most of his opponents. He is another student that has been improving fast and dedicating himself to become a great champion.
I see that all the work that the students have been putting in is starting to give them the results that they want. It’s motivating and exciting! I’m sure we will have a lot of champions in the next competition season!
Check out footage of the matches on artofjiujitsu.com!