Among the numerous gi-wearing beasts to grace the mats of the European Jiu-Jitsu Championship, organized by the IBJJF, the strength and unity of the teams will always take front and center.
That is the opinion of Alex Machado, a Carlos Gracie Jr. black belt. To the leader of Gracie Barra Lisbon, there’s nothing more important that team unity.
“This year I think the focus of interest won’t be one individual title or another, but the team title. There are several teams very prepared and doing their all to win this title; it’s all a question of strategy and luck,” states Machado, in the following interview.
How are Gracie Barra Lisbon’s preparations coming for this European Championship?
The truth is that preparations take place continuously throughout the year. Due to the size of my team and the fact there are seven branches in our chain of academies in Portugal and England, our students have lots of training partners and stimulus to evolve.
The rest of what I teach my students and instructors is the Jiu-Jitsu I was taught by my master, Carlos Gracie Jr. That is the secret of our success. I want to point out that this summer we’re going to open another branch in California, Gracie Barra San Pedro, and one more in Portugal, Gracie Barra Cascais.
What’s is new with the 2010 European?
The difference between it and the first European is absurd, from having a few hundred athletes to the numbers it currently does. These days the European is the third biggest tournament in the world, but I’m certain with time that will change, that it will grow even more.
This year I think the focus of interest won’t be one individual title or another, but the team title. There are several teams very prepared and doing their all to win this title; it’s all a question of strategy and luck.
The overall title is gaining more and more importance in a world in which academies are becoming bigger and incorporating financial and expansion strategies into their business models. Victory is always the result of the effort of many and not just one. When a team wins the overall everyone in all the affiliate schools around the world wins. It’s the best advertisement there is. Everyone wants to be a part of it and the truth is that they are.
Who are the standouts from GB Lisbon going into the event?
I have my long-time student Pedro Rodrigues, who was my first black belt and who will be in the mix, making his black belt debut. He has already been European champion before and won several medals in the championship.
Also at black belt there’s Navajo and Pakiss, who aren’t yet confirmed, but who have also won medals in the European before. At brown belt there are more of my long-time students, Hadriel, Handre Peters, João Fernandes and Vandamme, all of whom have been champions or won medals at the European before.
Will you compete?
Yes, thank God. I’ve won some before and earned medals in others; I’ll try to keep it up. I shouldn’t compete, but I will. I’ve been battling a serious and chronic knee injury that I suffered at the No-Gi Worlds in California for two years. Last year in my first match at the European the injury got worse, in the semifinal against Master Fabio Gurgel. My knee gave in, after I defended a takedown. I should have stopped right away, but I decided to keep going and aggravated the injury.
I went this whole year without competing, trying to recover from the injury and avoid surgery. I’m going to have to operate in February. Since I’ll have to do it either way, I decided to risk it and enter this tournament.
I’ve been training here in Cambridge with the folks near me, like Braulio Estima, of GB Birmingham, who has given me a lot of support, and my student Pedro Rodrigues, of GB Petersburg. I’m feeling fine and I’ll be there to help Gracie Barra win.