Text by Oliver Geddes:
It would be unfair to describe his clean sweep of the brown belt weight and absolute at the Rome International Open and the European No-Gi Championship as a coming-out party for Italy’s Bruno Ivan Tomasetti. He has been a mainstay on the European and World competition scene for over two years now, having already taken a world title at blue as well as the brown belt absolute at this year’s European Championship in Lisbon in addition to the FILA Gi and No-Gi World Championships. No matter what your previous accomplishments are though, winning 13 fights over one weekend, the majority by submission, is a feat that is worthy of note.
The first thing to be aware of about Bruno’s grappling skills is his judo background. He began training judo when he was seven years old, winning his first national title in the under-16 class at the age of 15, before taking bronze in the adult division the year after aged only 16. He also has a number of other competition successes, including a bronze at the under-20 European Championship and two silvers in the under-23 European Championship, as well as a bronze medal in the Military World Championship. To add to that list of achievements, he was also a member of the Italian national judo squad from 2000 until 2011, as well as part of the professional military police judo squad from 2003 until 2011.
But to call Bruno just a converted judoka would do him a disservice, particularly in recent months where he has shown a strong affinity for leg and specifically ankle locks, far from an area of expertise for a typical judoka. The judo competition ruleset tends to create fighters with excellent takedowns, chokes and armlocks, but given all leglocks are illegal in judo competition, it is rarely something they put much effort into learning since there is little practical benefit for them within their sport. If you have literally a few seconds to spare you can see Bruno proving that not all judoka are cut from the same cloth:
Bruno’s interest in leg attacks came about from watching sambo and no-gi grappling earlier in his training, but since he was competing professionally in judo he wasn’t permitted to take part in other sports under different rulesets. After calling time on his judo career, he jumped into training leg locks alongside the Italian national sambo team with the aim of turning a typical weakness of converted judoka into his strength. As can be seen from the clips above, this is something he has been more than successful in doing.
After taking silver in last weekend’s World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi, defeating Team Lloyd Irvin’s Tim Spriggs in the semi-final before losing on points to Braulio Estima student Nelton Pontes in the final, he has now set his sights on the World Championships in California. He plans to capture yet another world title to add to his resume. Look for him as a face to be challenging for titles in both his weight and the absolute when the end of May rolls around.