A student of Jair Lourenço at Kimura/Nova União academy, Horlando Monteiro, 18, was the number 1 blue belt at the 2013 European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, held last week in Lisbon.
Runner-up in the lightweight division, Horlando went to work in in the absolute and came up spades. But what is it that leads a blue belt to dominate so many of his competitors?
“I feel the thing that made the biggest difference for me winning at open weight was my guard, and my long legs (laughs). That spider-guard and de la Riva-guard game makes things rough on the bigger guys,” says the young fighter.
Long legs, ok. But what about the mind? How does a rookie champion get his head to work in his favor?
“Look, if I’d won at weight I probably wouldn’t have wanted to compete in the absolute. It’s funny, but the loss gave me the motivation and strength to face the giants in the absolute,” he reflects.
To achieve glory, the athlete from Natal had to show balance against the deft judoka Khasan Betelgerieve of team Alliance in the final.
“Early in the match he, a brown belt in judo, gave me a kick that nearly took my leg off. But I defended well and then called him to guard and sunk a triangle. I was playing closed guard and did a position that I work on a lot. I grab both the opponent’s sleeves, push one backwards and pull the other one to my ear while climbing my guard up. I generally come up with the triangle and everything works out,” he says.
So as we can surmise from Horlando’s experience, the ingredients that go into winning the blue belt absolute are:
1. Good guard
2. External motivation
4. A surefire position (the triangle, in this case)
Any other lessons, Horlando? “Believe in yourself the whole time. You only win in Jiu-Jitsu if you don’t give up!” Got it?