Appearing for the first time in the ten-year history of the tournament, Gracie Barra black belt Romulo Barral went to Portugal and didn’t go home empty handed.
On Sunday, the Brazil-California transplant sent himself through to the medium-heavyweight final. The problem was that at the other end of the bracket there was another Gracie Barra professor, the black belt from Curitiba Rodrigo Fajardo, then the European champion of the division. The solution? They locked horns to see who is best between the four lines.
“We’re from Gracie Barra but hail from different cities. We’ve never trained together and both want to be champions, so there’s nothing more fitting than for us to fight,” Romulo told GRACIEMAG.com. “I had a sensation of having accomplished my duty. I had an excellent campaign; I managed to win all my matches with the choke from the mount. Nothing’s more meat-and-potatoes than that.”
To Barral the greatest lesson he derived from the European Championship was precisely that: believe in the traditional and most basic.
“It’s a tip that’s valid for practitioners of all belts. Don’t worry about learning only the modern positions. First you have to get good at the basics,” he said in teaching the lesson.
His only regret was having not entered the absolute.
“I wasn’t sure whether to compete in the absolute, because I caught a nasty flu on the week of the tournament. As I wasn’t feeling quite 100%, I chose not to risk it. But it was hard to decide while watching everything from the sidelines,” remembered Romulo, who will next try his hand at the Feb. 9 and 10 Abu Dhabi WPJJC tryouts in Miami.
For the time being, though, he’ll be celebrating his first gold medal at a European Open:
“It was awesome to be here to enjoy my first European Championship. I feel I did a great job of preparing. I had an attacking game without leaving any openings or making any mistakes my opponents could capitalize on. Hence the result,” said the GB ace in closing.
Click here for the complete results from the 2013 European Open.