Having won all the competitions he participated in during 2009, Michael Langhi never imagined he would have to win another one behind the scenes. In the difficult mission of naming the best of the year, GRACIEMAG saved the task of indicating who the most consistent athlete was for last. In the list published in this month’s issue, Langhi was neck and neck with Bráulio Estima – voted best at submission grappling. The tie-breaker came with the Brazilian national no-gi title, in October. A close match won in the final seconds of the final put the Alliance black belt on the podium, rounding out a perfect season.
Having wrapped up his work for this year, Langhi is taking some time for himself with his family in São Carlos, São Paulo. But that didn’t keep him from having a chat with GRACIEMAG.com.
How long will you stay on vacation?
I’m going to compete at the European Championship. I only took a rest at the end of the year. I’m coming off a series of competitions and, between 2008 and 2009, I didn’t stop. I had the Asian Super Cup and Capital Challenge, in Jordan, and after that I went straight into the European. Now I’m taking a break, but soon I’ll start up training again with the European in mind.
Will your team be strong for the competition?
Alliance will take a really strong team, with the main black belts. After that I’ll head on to Finland, where I’ll stay for a month teaching seminars.
You’ve done seminars around the world. Doesn’t that get in the way of your training?
Truth is I try to do seminars at strategic times not to get in the way. You end up losing a bit of quality of training. But, if you know how to set your training, you can do fine. There are a lot of strong, well-prepared guys and, if you do something specific, starting from difficult positions, letting your training partner start for your back or the mount, it makes for good preparations. My physical conditioning coach, Edson Ramalho, is always in contact with me and, even if I’m far away, he sends me what I should do. The technical side, when away from the folks at Alliance in São Paulo, is really not the same. But the physical side is always up to par.
You have so many expressive results that put you in the spotlight so everyone must be studying you. Does your being the favorite mean greater responsibility?
There are no favorites. The one who has trained the most and is best on the day will win. I always look to train a lot and keep a clear head, stay focused. There are a lot of good guys in the lightweight division. There’s no way to say someone’s favored to win, because they are all good athletes. I always put the maximum into training and dedicate myself so I’ll be at 100%. Competing is what motivates me and I like the feeling. I feel comfortable and it does me good. I injured my shoulder after the Brazilian No-Gi Nationals and couldn’t compete recently, here in São Paulo. I felt something was missing. Next year I’ll be even better than this year.