Last week the IBJJF European Open Championships took place in Lisbon. The Euros is now the largest BJJ competition in the world due to its entry size and now has over 3,500 athletes competing from over 30 countries (an IBJJF record for any competition). So following my experiences last year at the World Masters I really wanted to check it out.
As always my BJJ is a pretty social affair! In our apartment we had my hubby Pete as well as my friends Sophie and Oyinda. Not to mentioned nearly 20 of our BJJ friends who train in Manchester plus several others from across the UK all descending on Lisbon for the competition. This gave the competition preparation a very different feel than the World Masters. In fact it started to feel very much more like preparation for one of the larger local competitions – just one team hustling together to be the best we could be.
The IBJJF don’t give a very specific timetable till the week of the competition so we had to prepare to compete on either the Thursday, Friday or the Saturday! With this in mind we arrived in Lisbon late on Wednesday evening. My actual competition day was Friday so we had plenty of time the next day for practicalities such as food prep and checking out the venue. Checking out the venue is always useful for three reason. One to get the initial adrenaline dump of arriving and seeing everything out of the way, two to watch some of my team mates do their thing and finally to get my event t-shirt and check out the stalls for some important BJJ shopping! The evening was before competition was spent watching movies on youtube curled up under a couple of duvets. Very rock and roll!
Friday was competition day! As its my blog I’ll only focus on my competition (or this would be a very long post!). Now despite last week posting about why competitions don’t matter I didn’t enter to lose or just to make up the numbers. My first fight was always going to be a tough one not just due to nerves but also my opponent. Google had reliably informed me she was Icelandic and had just won the national championships. She also looked rather physically strong (shorter and more muscular than me!). I wasn’t wrong and we ended being very evenly matched but with thanks to the forever helpful Yousuf Nabi shouting from the black belt area I realised I was one advantage up with 30 seconds to go and managed to hold on for the win.
My second opponent was Finnish and we had already fought at white belt. Although I’d won that match by 2 points I knew I couldn’t take anything for granted. But I also knew I was now in much better shape than the last time we met and proved it by taking the match 9-0. My semi final match was against a tough and experienced Spanish opponent. Unfortunately despite my best efforts I was caught in an arm bar leaving me with the Bronze. I will admit linked to last weeks post I have analysed video and have queried if I should have tapped but the reality is arm ligaments don’t lie! I did fight in the absolute category but met the eventual winner (an epically talented medium heavy weight Brazilian) in the quarter final and lost by submission. Although I got a black eye for my efforts I still came of the mats smiling. She was an epic competitor and it was a pleasure to test myself against her!
Overall I’m really pleased with my results. My category had a lot of tough women in it and the satisfaction of competing and winning at a top level was incredibly confidence building! My losses were simply to better opponents and overall I played my game reasonably well. Although I’m always trying to improve and learn so of course have a few things to ask my coach about!
I would love to say we hit the town straight after the competition but by the time the absolutes were finished we were all just tired and hungry. Our evening consisted of chinese food from a restaurant near the apartment, snacks, beer, wine and exploding kittens!
Saturday saw custard tarts for breakfast, BJJ legends, Acai Bowls and catching up with friends and team mates through out the day before we hit Lisbon in the evening. Meeting up with some of my Factory Team mates I can’t honestly write a full report on the evenings activities- what goes on tour stays on tour! But needless to say there was lots of cocktails, tequila and giggles resulting in some very sore heads the next day!
I didn’t get to see nowhere near as much of Lisbon as I would have liked but that’s the challenges of flying out as a team (lots of people to support!). In fact being part of a team / family is the one thing I will take from this trip. It was great spending quality time with my BJJ family. Not just my hubby and friends staying with me or my Factory BJJ family (I couldn’t have done it without them!) but friends from clubs around Manchester, the UK and some from further afield who all gave support in their own way.
The euros was a great competition at a good venue with a fantastic atmosphere. Obviously winning a medal is always nice but I would recommend any grappler to make the trip at least once. Its a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a lovely city, spend time with your BJJ family as well as the chance to experience a top level competition and rub shoulders with some of the stars of our sport.