While the 2014 Pan does not come (register here to compete), Fabio Gurgel is doing his homework for the team to be ready. Between classes at Alliance’s HQ in São Paulo, Gurgel talked to GRACIEMAG. The issue discussed was the change announced by the IBJJF for 2015 concerning the black belt division at the Worlds. From 2015 on, only former world champions in the black belt and gold medalists in the brown belt the year before will have secured spots. All other black belts will have to compete for points in the IBJJF Open championships throughout the year. Read Erin Herle’s article on the changes announced by the IBJJF.
GRACIEMAG : The change announced for the 2015 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship was requested by some teachers, right? The measure is fair, in your view ?
Fabio Gurgel : Just think of a simple example : you like to swim, right? You imagine enrolling in the next World Swimming Championship and even with no experience, being able to compete alongside Michael Phelps? Not likely, huh ? All sports have rules and mechanisms to prevent this from happening, and so far Jiu-Jitsu hadn’t. We had already discussed that sometimes, teachers and the IBJJF staff. It was common to see Rodolfo Vieira fighting a guy that nobody had ever seen, Buchecha in his first match against an unknown opponent. This occurred even in the early stages of the absolute. In my opinion, and that of other teachers the IBJJF heard, the Worlds needs to be a showcase of the sport, the venue for the people to applaud the best black belts in the world at that moment. The measure is therefore extremely beneficial for the sport and competitors. There is room for improvement, of course , but every change has to start from a point. In my view this news will make the Worlds more attractive to everyone: audience, athletes, schools.
And also for TV, right? If the sport wants to grow and be seen, nothing better than a championship with the cream of the crop to attract more attention.
Exactly. Those who see the measure as negative, always trying to find a conspiracy theory are wrong. I’ve read of someone calling a boycott. The first consequence is the Federation to lose money, it will have less people enrolling in the 2015 Worlds. The change will make the Opens more important, which is vital to grow the sport locally. It’s good for the Jiu-Jitsu in Manaus to have an IBJJF championship. It is good for Houston and the schools there to host an event. The IBJJF is just listening to the Professor, and who want to participate will help the sport . Who wants to stay out just complaining without proposing anything, will not cooperate.
You have a great team of black belts, some promising youngsters who risk being out of the 2015 Worlds. What would you recommend them not to lose the opportunity to be there ?
This young black belt will have to compete in more championships, and fight harder to prove worthy of being on the main stage . If he lives in Brazil, he has to win the Brazilian Championship, and also the Manaus Open, Rio Open, Brasília Open, São Paulo Open and the Nordeste Open . In the U.S. today there are actually more championships, and this is one point that can be adjusted by the amount of Opens in Brazil . But I believe the plan is to expand and spread it in the major cities of Brazil . Another idea that can be beneficial is to try in the future to create a mechanism of proportionality. For example, Europe has so many spots at black belt, Asia has so many, and so on.
What is the greatest need of Jiu-Jitsu today?
The fight for all of us, we’re still struggling to figure out, is how to help the athlete to make a living. This should be the main concern of the Jiu-Jitsu community today. And that does not mean attack the IBJJF . Athletes today have basically the sponsorship as a source of income, but this is still not enough for everyone. A sponsor appears today but tomorrow may disappear. The sport needs to be profitable. It must have a mass of consumers who sustain the sport but does not have it yet. We are still growing.