Worlds: Black belt Joao Miyao enters roosterweight division, supports new double-guard rule

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Joao Miyao wins the gold at the 2014 Abu Dhabi World Pro. Photo: Ivan Trindade

As with every World Championship, the choice of division for each black belt is a careful strategy. You’ll find that many athletes enter divisions that are below their normal weight categories. Some will even enter a division much higher than their walking weight. But the sacrifice is always evident even before the first day of competition.

For young black belts Joao and Paulo Miyao of Cicero Costha, they have entered various divisions together and separately over the years. At some tournaments like the 2014 Pan and the 2014 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship they both entered the same division. At the WPJJC in April, Joao was able to defeat Thiago Marques in the semi-final by one advantage after Marques defeated Paulo by referee decision. He went on to win the gold in the -64kg division. When not avenging each other, they often meet in the middle to close out the finals as they did at the Pan in late March.

The Miyaos faced each other in the finals of the 2013 Abu Dhabi World Pro. Photo: Dan Rod

The Miyaos faced each other in the finals of the 2013 Abu Dhabi World Pro. Photo: Dan Rod

Entering roosterweight

This year at the Worlds, neither of them have planned to be in the featherweight category as they have frequented before. And instead of both entering the light-feather category, each wants their chance to win an individual gold and Joao has moved down to the roosterweight category, a place he hasn’t been for awhile.

I asked Joao why he made this move and his answer was simple: “I am light and I think I can make rooster.”

Originally signed up for roosterweight at the Brazilian Nationals this past weekend on May 1-4, Joao went back up to light-feather prior to the day of competition as Paulo went up to featherweight.

But what does this mean for the twin who faces new opponents in the rooster category? Caio Terra of CTA and Bruno Malfacine of Alliance, the two top stars who have rivaled in the finals for years now, have owned the roosterweight division thus far. They both have yet to submit their registration but have intentions to do so. Also in the division is Milton Bastos who placed second at the 2014 Pan. Fabbio Passos of Alliance and Ivaniel Oliveira of Checkmat have yet to register but are worthy opponents for the Miyao as well.

Twenty seconds for action in double-guard?

Joao with an armbar at the 2014 Pan. Photo: Erin Herle

Joao with an armbar at the 2014 Pan. Photo: Erin Herle

And perhaps one of the most important changes for Joao and other smaller competitors is the new rule regarding double guard-pulling. If competitors in double-guard don’t advance position within 20 seconds of their bums planting on the mat, both competitors will be made to stand. This action will be determined by submission attempts or “imminent” movement towards a point-scoring move. If one comes up for the advantage to play top within the 20 seconds, the danger of being stood up is voided.

Joao supports the rule and when asked if he’d come up on top in a double guard situation, he said he would. We may see more of the Miyaos on top if their berimbolo attempts while in double guard are not seen as enough action. It isn’t an issue Joao seems to worry about and should he come up to pass, we’re likely to see a toureando pass since it’s his favorite.

The ultimate goal

Given that this is Joao’s first attempt at a black belt world title, his life goal could be reached within a matter of weeks. If you didn’t know, the Miyaos have one priority: competition. Their goal they are most motivated to achieve, the one they set their eyes upon over all other titles along the way is the black belt world champion title.

I wanted to know if Joao saw his life changing at all should he accomplish this on that first weekend of June. He didn’t understand the question. I don’t know if it was Google translate failing me or if the idea just didn’t hold any weight in his mind. I tried to ask if it was more about the journey rather than the destination–that saying we always talk about that would best cover up the issue of greed for titles.

He said, “I want to win more and more until I cannot fight anymore.”

It’s possibly the most grandiose idea I’ve ever heard from him. The Miyaos don’t think about the future like most. They don’t question their life’s purpose or what they’re going to do when they’re older. They only think of the now. Joao’s “now” is the Worlds and if he does accomplish the title, getting past multiple-time black belt world champions in the process, he’ll look forward to the next tournament on his agenda rather than settle. Or be satisfied. He’ll look to the next time he can fight for the world title.

Go for your own goal

Over the next couple of weeks while we wait for more names on the athlete list, submit your own registration to be included in the historical event in Long Beach, CA. From May 28-June 1 the Walter Pyramid will be provide this year’s most thrilling matches.

Register by May 19 at

Joao Miyao vs. Thiago Bravo Santos in the 2014 WPJJC -64kg final:

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