Nearly one thousand signed up, Pan was “starting point” for numerous aces

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The 2010 Pan in Irvine will be held on April 8 and promises to be the greatest in history. (sign up here)

“It’s normal for the Pan tobreak records, and this year it’s already broken another one,” said IBJJF vice-president Marcelo “Siriema” Araujo. “We had 760 athletes confirm in five days of registration, our record. We currently have 947 signed up, and with 18 days to go. To give you an idea, last year, at this time, 193 athletes were signed up.

It’s not just in participant numbers that the Pan is excelling. In the career of super-champion Braulio “Caracara” Estima, now a reference today for good Jiu-Jitsu, the Pan was responsible for an unforgettable twist – more precisely back in 2003, in Santa Barbara.

Braulio’s now world-famous guard, in a photo by Regis Chen. Before the Pan that was not the case.

“That Pan  marked the beginning of my professional career,” says Carcará. “I competed, worked, studied and taught at Ze Radiola’s academy, GB Pernambuco. It was tough, but before the 2003 Pan I had my first opportunity to do physical conditioning work for two months with my good friend and trainer Stevie Bs in England, where I trained twice a day at the academy of Maurição [Gomes, Roger’s father ] with several guys who later became my students in Birmingham. ”

And what has changed in Braulio’s Jiu-Jitsu? “Well, immediately my attacks improved immensely, and during that time I focused on improving my passes, which was my weakness,” he recollects.

“I decided to compete at the Pan, and I remember how bad I suffered from jetlag. It was there that I learned to pay attention to time difference. I’ll never forget the van that served as our bed, me and [Gustavo Pires] Sirizinho napping  in the parking lot before competing. ”

The 2003 Pan also marked Estima for two unprecedented events. “Thatt was the first Brazil vs USA team tournament, I was struck with emotion when the fighters stood at attention to listen to the national anthems. I felt like a soldier representing my country.   I was strengthened by this and put it in my head I was going to kill or die. ”

And Braulio’s match in the Brazil vs USA championship was unforgettable: that was when Carcará presented his helicopter armbar against American Ryan Gregg, 40 seconds into the match. “I was really inspired after hearing the anthem,” he said with amusement.

A brown belt, Carcará had six more matches in the Pan, getting the submission in all of them, and fighting a  total of 5 minutes and 24 seconds. Besides the action from the matches, the now-ADCC absolute champion and professor at GB Birmingham remembers a curious and striking time.

“Among the matches in my weight division and the absolute, Master Carlinhos took the microphone and said that local police had received an anonymous call saying there was a bomb in the gym. And Carlinhos calmed everyone down, as they were all very tense because of the events of September 11, declaring that he would remain in place no matter what, and decided to follow the Master’s lead,” he recalls.

Carcará then went on to dispute the final of the absolute against Fernando Soluço (Alliance), who made it past Felipe Cranivata with a guard pass. The result? A quick choke from behind and the celebration that would become the Carcará’s trademark, pointing to the crowd and demonstrating his excitement.

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