The 2012 European Jiu-Jitsu Championship kicked off this Thursday morning in Lisbon, Portugal. The street thermometers were showing a temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius, meaning an unbearable frosty feeling for the bundled up Brazilians who flew in to compete from the South American summer. The wind chill was met quite differently by the competitors coming in from Eastern Europe—durable young folk with white skin and blond hair, who make a mockery of the Portuguese winter by sporting shorts, flip-flops and tank tops.
That, by the way, is precisely one of the most charming parts of the IBJJF European Championship—the striking diversity of its participants. One African athlete didn’t speak a word of English, nor Portuguese, nor Spanish. The referee did his best to get the information he needed to convey across by gesticulating. His miming did the trick. And thus Jiu-Jitsu expands its horizons. This year, the organizers of the event report around 2,200 competitors to have signed up; hence the amplification of the floor space to an unprecedented ten match areas. The panoramic photo of the inside view of the Casal Vistoso municipal sports complex, where the Europeans are traditionally held, is eye candy. The stands are packed, warm-up areas brimming with athletes fired up on the adrenaline of sport Jiu-Jitsu.
Today was beginners day—white to blue belts—, most of the contestants displaying an enviable gas tank. At the edge of the contest area we catch site of the director of refereeing, Álvaro Mansur, wearing a serious expression and as attentive as always.
BREAKFAST: DOZENS OF BOILED EGGS
“This is the first event where we are applying the new rules of sport Jiu-Jitsu. Notice how many more penalties are being awarded than usual. I hope that by the weekend the black belts show themselves to be fully aware of the new rules,” said Álvaro. (To that end: in February, in GRACIEMAG#180, you’ll find a precious article on the new rules of sport Jiu-Jitsu. Don’t miss it!)
And speaking of black belts, the current absolute champion of the world, Rodolfo Vieira, is already in Lisbon, putting down an astounding breakfast consisting of dozens of boiled eggs.
WHO CAN PUT THE BRAKES ON RODOLFO VIEIRA?
“He’s a machine, a bulldozer; he’s going to kick butt this championship,” said Victor Costa, Rodolfo’s sponsor. Victor has been keeping close tabs on his poster boy’s training.
What do you think, intuitive reader? Who would you put your money on to stop the absolute champion of the world at the Europeans 2012? Share your pick and the reason for your choice with us in the comments section below. And check back with us again soon for breaking news out of Lisbon!