It wasn’t just in the elite, adult black belt, division that the Brazilian No-Gi Nationals delivered euphoria and excitement at the Tijuca Tennis Club last Saturday.
At purple belt, for example, the swarm of Lucas Daniel’s backers could hardly contain themselves when the young man, nicknamed “Hulk” by his matmates at Marcio Rodrigues Academy, managed to get past pint-sized Cicero Costha-representative João Miyao’s guard.
So great was their excitement that a friend of Lucas’s, thinking the match had ended, chucked him a banner, but the refereeing commission tolerated the slip up.
“He was better than me today, and I congratulate him. What else can I do?” said a disappointed João Miyao, as he packed up his things to head straight back to São Paulo. After turning down a friend’s invitation to stick around and hit up some Rio de Janeiro beaches on Sunday, the light-featherweight purple belt champion put his and his brother’s performance under the microscope. “I feel there’s a big difference when we compete in No-Gi. Without the gi, we can’t trap our opponents in our games like we usually do. We’re going to train more for the next absolutes,” he shrugged, having referred to his brother Paulo, who himself left defeated, but in the brown belt division.
Weeping, camaraderie and diverse paths
Involuntarily, Paulo Miyao’s loss in the absolute played a part in the most sublime moment of the championship.
In the first semifinal of the brown belt absolute, Paulo took on the big-bodied Jackson Santos, who had earlier secured the heavyweight title. Miyao did his all to sweep, nearly making it to the giant’s back, but Jackson held the fort through determination and technical wherewithal. As the match drew to a close, his strategy paid off: Jackson launched a foot assault that scored him the winning advantage point.
He entered the final opposite Rodrigo “Aquiles” Conceição of Alliance, and the embrace shared by the pair betrayed the fact that it was not their first encounter.
“Aquiles has been my friend since I was a kid growing up on Cantagalo Hill, where we both began training under [Fernando] Tererê. When Tererê had to stop, I chose to carry on training with Ricardinho [Vieira], and Aquiles went to Alliance,” Jackson would explain to GRACIEMAG.com a short while later.
In the battle they waged, the last of the Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro event, Jackson scored a quick takedown and safely controlled the action, scoring a second time towards the end: 4-0. With the final whistle, the joy gave way to an outpouring of tears after the friendly hug between the pair of stalwart competitors, still kneeling on the mat.
“I never imagined we could one day be opponents. That’s why I broke out in tears. We always trained together, and he’s a warrior like I am. We always fought hard to make it to where we did today,” said Jackson.
Ricardo Vieira wants return at ADCC 2013
That wasn’t team CheckMat’s only cause for joy on the day. Black belt Ricardo Vieira made his competition return after years dedicated to his family, and two wins paid out in gold in the light featherweight master division.
“I won my first one by a good margin on points, and I won the final by 2-0, in a cool match against Anderson Pereira. It felt too good. I’m already thinking of upping the load in training to put in an appearance in the ADCC under-66 kg division. I think I have a good chance, since my brother Leo should be in the under-77 kg division,” remarked Ricardo.
Think the excitement’s over? Today is the Worlds No-Gi. The California competition will go from today to Sunday. Do you imagine there will be moments of emotion and joy like these, gentle reader?