martedì 21 giugno 2016

Report of Italian BJJ Open 2016 UIJJ - IBJJF

 Report of Italian BJJ Open 2016 UIJJ - IBJJF, written by Enrico Di Luise,  Brazilian JiuJitsu coach and competitor (GPT Messina) and translated by Gloria Coccoli (Jorge Santos BJJ – Dublin).

The Italian Brazilian JiuJitsu competitive season ended with a bang, thanks to the awesome Italian Open, held in Florence on the 11th and 12th of June. The event counted its 5th edition of the GI category and the 2nd edition of the NOGI.


With a total of 1172 participants, 805 athletes for the GI category, 293 athletes for the NOGI category and, for the first time, 74 athletes for the GI junior division, UIJJ – the Italian branch of IBJJF -  established a new record of attendees for the Italian BJJ and also make the Italian Open one of the competitions in Europe with the highest number of participants (just after the European Championships in Lisbon and Rome).

The majority of the athletes were of Italian nationality, coming from almost all its regions, with few attendees from Switzerland, Portugal, Montenegro, Greece and Czech Republic; the year before there was a bigger attendance from North European countries and also from America, even though the Italian athletes represented anyway the 88% of the participants (GI category). 

 (NB: to ease the dissertation, the data about the Senior division in 2015 have been compared with the division Master 2 in 2016)

As can be seen from the statistics, there has been a sharp increase from 2015 to 2016 in all divisions considered (age, belts and sex) with the exceptions of the Master NOGI category that plummeted from 105 participants to 62 and the group of the white belts in NOGI, which remained almost unchanged (from 122 to 120).
The most ‘crowded’ categories both in 2015 and 2016 have been the middle and feather weight division, whilst the rooster/light feather, together with heavy and super heavy weight division have been almost empty.


The sport centre Palascandicci in Florence was jam-packed full of people on the stands, supporting the athletes and this enthusiasm really framed the day. Also the indoor café, the irreplaceable ‘Açai’ stand and the outdoor refreshment stands have successfully satisfied the needs of such a big audience! Athletes and audience could also take time for convenient shopping on the stands present at the event, such as Venum, official sponsor of the Italian Open.


Generally speaking, the organisation of the event has been excellent and accurate. The staff, headed by M° Dario Bacci, has handled in a flawless manner the ‘big wave’ of participants and above all the administrative hurdles that such kind of events imply in Italy. The staff assigned to the tatami area and weight-in showed great respect and have been helpful throughout, nonetheless the ectopic pace of the day.
Referees Committee from left to right da sx Freddy Linhares Amiuna, Sada Kurimori, Dario Bacci, Judson Borges
The referees team, headed by M° Freddy Linhares, has been also almost completely flawless and professional, also considering advice from the head of the referees in issues relating to the new regulations.
The chronogram has been the ‘feather in the cap’ of the event, in perfect time on Saturday, even slightly earlier than expected on the timetable and almost overall on Saturday. The podiums have been called in perfect time after the finals of each category and the absolutes started in reasonable time after the podium of each weight division.The only big flaw has been the missing tatami in the warmup area, due to the unexpected increase in number of participants and the necessary 8 fight areas working simultaneously. Last but not least, the first aid team, even though the few serious injuries, was ready to operate and well equipped in an assigned area.


And finally, we arrived to the juicy part of the event. First, I have to emphasize how difficult it is to draw a unique picture of how the matches went and about the fighting trend of the event. This is due in the first instance to the impossibility of following all the fights, even if remaining for much of the time on the side of the tatami or in the stands, and secondly it is due to the level of the author, maybe not skilled enough to perceive the technicalities, strategies and agonistic shades performed on Saturday and Sunday. Even more impossible to draw, without accurate data, calculation either about throws, guards, submissions, or kind of victories (points vs submissions), like the one elaborated by ‘BJJ heroes’ for the last World Championship. 
photo by Remo Cassella
Similarly to the latter, I noticed a general little recourse and/or low success of throws, except for the ex-judokas/wrestlers competing. About the same topic, I noticed numerically speaking, more single legs and ankle picks (especially after the ‘pretending’ to pull guard), followed by kouchigari and other ashiwaza techniques. It hasn’t been missed also the nice ‘safada’ takedown and ‘seoinage’ (in different variations), but they have been isolated events rather than a trend. Pulling guard (under its different variations) has certainly ruled the standing part in almost all belts.

As top positions or guard, differently to the last Worlds’ trend, the 50/50 guard didn’t have a predominant role in Florence, except for some black/brown belts that used it admirably; in this context instead, there have been few athletes taking that position and/or ending up in it to rapidly transition to another one, but I couldn’t say that it has been a prevalent technique of the event.
photo by Remo Cassella
Instead, open guard such as inverted DLR, spider guard, spider/lasso guard have been the most used in high levels. For the lower belts, beside the closed guard, or looking for sweeps, I also noticed the frequent use of ‘high guard’ and set ups similar to the rubber guard to then transition to finalisation. Besides the closed guard, DLR, half guard and deep half guard have been very common at all levels. The use of berimbolo as a sweep, but above all, variations of ‘lapel’ control from the half guard and DLR have increased considerably also in the lower belts.

As for submissions, in accordance with the mentioned Worlds’ statistics, I would say that the chokes from the back, such as bow and arrow (for the GI) have gone to the greatest, followed by triangle, armbar (often from the mount), and just at last the submissions from side control. There have been guillotines too, especially in NOGI and mainly as a result of sprawl on attempts of single/double leg of the opponent together with some anaconda/brabo.
photo by Remo Cassella
All being fascinated nowadays by Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings (and many others), a relevant note is that even in this Italian Open there has been a rapidly increasing tendency of leg locks (straight leg lock or ‘botinha’ variants), using the typical set ups from open guard/butterfly guard/shin-to-shin/single leg X. In fact, already among the blue and purple belts, some athletes won almost all the matches with those submissions in just few seconds (me included being submitted by a Montenegro athlete, who showed great use of these technique during those two days).There were also less common submissions, such as a great calf slicer from the back (Sean Roberts style) by Franciotti (Flow JJ) versus Carotti (Aeterna JJ), two professors I really look up to and who showed a beautiful fight.

Of course, in terms of black and brown belts, there were so many wonderful matches, with the greatest Italian BJJ athletes, even in the master division; it would be almost impossible to describe them all, even though a due note should be made to the amazing Luca Anacoreta who, upon returning from the US experience, gave us a spectacular show on the mat of a JiuJitsu that’s ‘out of this world’! As for the fights, I conclude that it was also amazing to see the raising technical level of women in all categories.
Luca Anacoreta -  photo by Remo Cassella    
(NB: the thoughts expressed above are originated from my personal observations, on the categories that I followed and matched I witnessed and therefore are NOT technical judgements, or indications of any value)


Two things have to be mentioned about this BJJ Open 2016.
The first is for sure the new participation of young boys and girls who competed in beautiful and playful fights, often followed by sweet tears, that touched and at the same time involved the audience at the event, supporting both the little competitors at every fight!
In short, we had the pleasure to see live one of those meaningful scenes about right and healthy sport that we can only share from oversea videos found on YouTube. 
Super talented referees that were taking care of the children as if they were theirs (e.g.: Juan Neves) and congratulations to the organisation that with this far-sighted new entry has put this martial art in a different light, especially in the eyes of the non-practicing audience, present at the stands.
Luca Vignoli - photo by Remo Cassella
 Secondly, it will remain in the minds of all present, the demonstration of the true sport values, highlighted by the fight of Luca Viglioli, already competing in other sports, including wheelchair hockey. Apart from the surreal standing ovation of the entire sport centre at the end of his fight, with both athletes and coaches who stopped to clap their hands instead of thinking at their own match, I can witness to have seen so many people – unknown to him - in tears for his presence on the mat. A small…Big magic!
Here for all of us, ever though tired after the fights and maybe with a bitter taste of a missed medal, on that moment we received the biggest Life Lesson of the weekend. What to add more? Nothing, just ‘Thank you, Jiu-Jitsu’.

Enrico Di Luise
Ground Pressure Team, Messina

Gloria Coccoli
Jorge Santos BJJ, Dublin

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