The wait is finally over, one of jiu jitsu’s biggest and most exciting tournaments is back over two years away from the bjj competition circuit. The event returns this year to Ostia, Italy after many years of calling Lisbon, Portugal home. Many of Europe’s top black belt grapplers first made a name for themselves with standout performances at the lower belts at this “grandslam” event. Which new jiu jitsu stars will be born at this year's edition of the European Championship. Checkout a quick preview of some of the most exciting black belt divisions.
Adult / Male / Light Black Belt
One of the larger divisions for a black belt division, with already 20 jiu jitsu athletes signed up Like most bjj championships the talent level is deep at lightweight. Marcio Andre of Marcio Andre association is near the top of the list if not the top to walk away with gold. Marcio is a seasoned veteran with many world and pan championship medals to his name. A complete jiu jitsu player who can pass the trickiest guards as well as an exciting bottom game. Try to catch his matches at the European championship if you can. French back taking machine Leon Larman will also be present in the lightweight division. Larman has been making some waves recently in the jiu jitsu scene. Having spent much time training in California with the likes of Caio Terra, Leon is always prepared for any competition he enters. Swedish veteran Max Lindbland is moving down from the middleweight division to mix it up at this jiu jitsu European championship. Max plays a wonderful and exciting open guard with many attacks and sweeps. Representing Checkmat, the move down may be the key ingredient for Max to achieve his first European bjj black belt gold. Bryan Jenkins and Dinu Bucalet are just two of the many other top grapplers which could make a run and use their jiu jitsu to take home the lightweight title.
Adult / Male / Middleweight Black Belt
Two Norwegian grapplers spearhead the top athletes in this division, Tommy Langaker and Tarik Hopstock. Tommy has turned from an upcoming star tearing up the lower levels of the jiu jitsu scene and has become a top level talent. Winning and placing in every single major competition since his arrival at black belt. Perhaps the most exciting fighter to watch in bjj gi, Tommy is an absolute submission hunting savage. Tarik who can claim great for creating the unique “Tarikoplata”, has just achieved the rank of bjj black belt and will be making his debut at this European Jiu Jitsu Championship. For many years Tarik has been one of the most talked about fighters in all of Europe. It will be amazing to see this brown belt world champion test himself against the best. Representing Frontline alongside Tarik, is Jiu Jitsu legend Eduardo Rios, making a return to the adult division.
Rios is well known for being a major force in the establishment of Jiu Jitsu in Scandinavia. A heavily decorated jiu jitsu fighter in his own right, it will be amazing to see Rios clash with the younger generation.England will also be represented by a pair of top jiu jitsu fighters. Bradley Hill representing Royal Jiu Jitsu and Taylor Pearman of ZR Team. Both are former Gracie Barra athletes who have now found a new home for their Jiu Jitsu skills. Hill and Pearman are similar for a complete approach in their Jiu Jitsu style. Having much experience at the highest level of Jiu Jitsu since a young age, either could make a run to the top.
Adult / Male / Heavyweight Black Belt
Polish star Adam Wardzinski is a heavy favorite to take home the title this year. Adam has been at the top of the upper weights for years. Perhaps the moment which announced his arrival was a victory over the jiu jitsu legend Leanro Lo at the Pan American Championship a few years ago. Adam has the worst best butterfly guard on the active scene and a some murderous top preasure passing. Two notable challenges which will seek to disrupt Adams' march to gold are Dominique Bell of Atos and Janis Riekstins of ZR Team. Janis has been talked about for years in the Jiu Jitsu scene in the UK. A new arrival to the black belt level. It will be interesting to see what he does at his first black belt jiu jitsu major. Dominique Bell comes from the top competition team in the world with many current black belt world champions in the training room daily. One would expect any jiu jitsu black belt of Andre Galvao to have a complete bjj style. Bell has that in more, having added a slick selection of Judo throws to his arsenal in recent years.
Adult / Female / Light-Featherweight Black Belt
Ana Rodrigues of Dream Art will kick off her quest for world championship gold this year at the first grand slam of the year. Ana is among a cohort of young and exciting blackbelts from Dream Art, the project founded by Isaque Bahiense. Rodrigues has been training and competing in bjj since a young age, already holding many victories over top competitors. Heavily favored to run away with gold in this division, it will be interesting to see if she jumps into the open class.
Adult / Female / Light Black Belt
One the best all time female grapplers to come out of Europe, Welsh superstar Ffion Davies is in the hunt to add another lightweight title to her name. Holding major medals in gi and no gi, Ffion is a favorite among jiu jitsu players for her exciting style and warm personality. Having a background in Judo, Ffion usually finds a couple highlight throws to impress the audience with at each event. Nathalie Riberio will present a serious challenge to Ffion, the black belt competitor from Checkmat is always game for a scrappy match.
Don’t know about you, but we can’t wait for the return of the European Championship. We have really missed this classic event!
-Team Progress Jiu Jitsu