CheckMat ace Yuri Simões gets his black belt

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CheckMat’s Yuri Simoes was on fire as a brown belt. During the course of his tenure in that respected belt, Yuri, who competes back and forth between varying weight divisions, won his super heavy division at the 2011 Gi Worlds, the heavy division and the absolute at the 2011 No-Gi Worlds, his medium heavy division at the 2011 European Open (and came in second in the absolute, losing to his CheckMat teammate Alexander Trans), and he won the heavy division at the 2010 European Open. Additionally, he won his division and the absolute at the US Open, and he won the North American Open and the British Open. “I’ve competed all over the world,” Yuri says, “I believe that has helped a lot with my experience.”

Yuri Simões wearing his new black belt / Personal-archive photo

With all of these accolades, it’s no surprise that Yuri’s professor Ricardo Vieira gave Yuri his coveted black belt over the holidays. “Ricardo told me that 2011 was going to be my last year as a brown belt,” Yuri says, “That’s why I was so nervous at the Worlds. I wanted to make sure I got the Mundial gold in my brown belt before I got my black belt.”

Yuri says that December 30 was one of the happiest days of his life. “It was a very special moment because I became a black belt from Ricardo,” Yuri beams, “I still feel a bit awkward every time I tie on this new belt. Now, I have the biggest challenge ahead of me: my mission is to become a world champion black belt. I know I’ll be ready because I’ve got the best training partners in the world, who will help me achieve this dream.” Yuri is referring to his teammates in California, including his coach, Lucas Leite. “He is the best competitor out there today,” Yuri says, “He smashes me every time we train. I learn so much from him.”

Yuri’s first experience with Jiu-Jitsu was at 7 years old. It was 1997 and his dad was a purple belt. “He used to teach me little things like simple takedowns, armbars, and self defense,” Yuri says, “But I used to be a trouble maker as a kid. I loved fighting in school and always had so much energy. So, my dad put me into a proper BJJ school when I was like nine years old. I trained there until I was 16. Then my Master, Mauricio Miguel Pereira died. He was like a second dad to me. It was really tough on me. I promised him that I was going to win the Worlds before he died. I wanted to make him proud. He died before seeing this happen. I know wherever he is now, he is looking down at me, happy and proud.”

After Yuri lost his master, he began training under Ricardo Vieira. “It’s been a great experience training with him since I was a juvenile blue belt,” Yuri says, “I have been very successful on my journey and I’m very thankful to Ricardo because he is one of the best BJJ coaches in the world and has made many champions. Now it’s my time to go after the gold in the black belt division. I know I can do it. I want to thank Ricardo, Lucas Leite, Marco Machado Sharpei, and my family for their support. I promise that I will go 1000% to get that Worlds title. Nothing’s gonna stop my dream from coming true.”

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