The year 2013 ended with a spontaneous BJJ seminar with Gracie Barra Black Belt Max Carvalho. Max Carvalho, who lives and teaches in Hungary is a Black Belt under Professor Ze' Radiola, considered by many as one of the most finest BJJ Instructors today. Max Carvalho, who's also one of the top competitors in BJJ, happened to be in Malta for some holidays and we took this opportunity to organise a training session with him. Although the training session was on Boxing Day, a good number of students showed up and enjoyed the techniques showed by Instructor M Carvalho which focused on Back Attacks. Once again thanks to the commitment and participation of our students we managed to get some excellent instruction from another big name in BJJ today.
On Saturday 21st December 2013, most of the members of our Team gathered together for our Annual Meeting. During this meeting Instructor Keith Darmanin showed some interesting variations of the Armpit Armlock, aka Waki-Gatame. At the end of the meeting, Keith had the pleasure to award stripes to various students and informed all those present that BJJ Team Malta will host another seminar with Master Rogerio Olegario at the end of March'14.
Five members from our Team travelled to
Joe Vella won two consecutive matches to earn his spot in the final which he lost on points, thus placing 2nd.
Joe Vella and Michelle Zarb further competed in the London No-Gi Championship where both athletes managed to win Gold in their respective categories. Joe managed to win his final match on points, while Michelle, who was fighting an opponent from a heavier category, managed to achieve the submission win in 3 minutes.
On Saturday 20th July 2013 we had the pleasure to host BJJ Black Belt 3rd Degree Andre Monteiro from the famous Carlson Gracie Team. Monteiro has his club in Texas, USA but he is constantly travelling to compete and give seminars around the world. During this seminar Andre showed different techniques from basic, yet highly effective chokes, to more advanced techniques, like effective sweeps from the half guard and the deep half guard.
Five members of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team Malta competed in the Rome Jiu-Jitsu Open competition and the European No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championships on the 29th and 30th of June, both organized by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. These competitions where a success for the Maltese bringing home six medals for
Keith Darmanin, Brown Belt competitor and coach of BJJ Team Malta under Professor Rogerio Olegario, placed 3rd in his weight division and 3rd in the open weight category of the European No-Gi Championships delivering an excellent performance in both reflecting the high level of BJJ in Malta.
Michelle Zarb brought home 2 bronze medals placing 3rd in the Rome IBJJF Championships and 3rd at the Europeans No-Gi Championships in her weight division, only being stopped by the current world champion.
From Friday 31 May till Sunday 2 June 2013, we had the pleasure to host once again Master Rogerio Olegario 5th Degree BJJ Black Belt for another weekend of training. During these three days, we had 3 gi and 1 no-gi session with over 12hours of training. Master Rogerio displayed some of his favorite moves from various positions. On Saturday, both Matthew Azzopardi, who recently won the gold at the BJJ British Open in Birmingham UK, and Gordon Benedikt were promoted to the rank of Blue Belt after over two years of training with our Team. Apart from that, some other members were awarded another stripe to their belt: Peter Nikashin 2nd stripe White, Shylon Vella 1st stripe Orange, Stuart Borg 1st stripe Orange, Andrei Spiteri 1st stripe Blue, Neville Thomas 1st stripe Blue, Jozua Curmi 4th stripe Blue, Michelle Zarb 1st stripe Purple and Keith Darmanin 1st stripe Brown. At the end of the seminar Rogerio Olegario was very pleased with the constant improvement of the Maltese group and encouraged everyone to keep on training.
On the 17th May, three members from our Team travelled to Birmingham UK to compete in one of the largest BJJ competitions in England, ie. the BJJ British Open. Gordon Benedikt, Neville Thomas and Matthew Azzopardi took part in three different categories. Gordon Benedikt, who fought as White Master Medium-Heavy, was unfortunate to suffer a minor penalty at the end of the match when the score was still 0-0, thus he got eliminated in his first round. On the other hand Neville Thomas, Blue Senior 2 Medium-Heavy, passed his first round but was stopped in his second match, achieving 3rd place Bronze.
The standout of the day for our Team was Matthew Azzopardi, who competed in the White Adult Super-Featherweight category with over 20 competitors. Matthew managed to win against five opponents to achieve 1st place Gold, not suffering a single point against him whilst submitting three of his five opponents and comfortably winning by points against the other two. Another positive result for our Team in competition.
During May 2013, our head Instructor Keith Darmanin celebrated 20 years of martial arts training. In 1993, at 14 years of age, Keith Darmanin commenced his martial arts training in traditional Ju-Jitsu. He also trained in Judo and in 2010 established the first BJJ club on the island, BJJ Team Malta. Currently he holds a Brown Belt in BJJ and a Black Belt 2nd Dan in traditional Ju-Jitsu.
For this occasion, Keith came up with the idea to organise a martial arts seminar in aid of Puttinu Cares Cancer Support Group, open for all martial arts practitioners, especially those who have met or trained with him. During this 3hrs seminar, Keith shared some of the knowledge gained throughout the years, showing techniques from traditional Ju-Jitsu, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu covering both self-defence and competition techniques.
Apart from BJJ Team Malta members, this seminar was also attended by other martial arts practitioners from different clubs, mainly from Aikido, Bujinkan Nin-Jitsu and Nihon Tai-Jitsu. At the end of the seminar Keith thanked all those who took part and contributed for this event marking his 20th year in martial arts and also those who have helped him throughout the years, especially all his students and former instructors. The sum of €500 was collected and donated to Puttinu Cares (Receipt No. 109512 P).
On Saturday 2nd February 2013 we had the pleasure to host World BJJ Champion Wellngton 'Megaton' Dias from the famous Gracie Humaita. Megaton, who is a well renowned instructor and competitor, is a 5th Degree BJJ Black Belt under the famous Royler and Rolker Gracie and he also trained under Grand Master Helio Gracie and the legendary Rickson Gracie. Recently, Megaton has just conquered another two titles at the European Championships '13 were he won both his weight and open divisions. During this 3 hour seminar, which was attended by a good number of BJJ Team Malta members, Megaton showed various techniques including some of his favourite throwing techniques. This seminar was made possible with the help of French BJJ Black Belt Francois Deniau, who is a student of Megaton, who had visited our club during the year 2011.
For the third year in a row members from our team travelled to Lisbon in Portugal for the 10th edition of the biggest European Jiu-Jitsu competition, the European Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship. This competition is the largest IBJJF competition of Jiu-Jitsu being organised in Europe and it is open for every BJJ competitior from around the world. Teams and competitors from every corner of the globe gather together for four days of strong emotions and high level Jiu-Jitsu. For this year, our Team was represented by Michelle Zarb and Keith Darmanin, who were accompanied by Jozua Curmi. Both were having their debut in their new belts as a Purple and Brown respectively. On Friday, Michelle Zarb had a tough pool when she had to face one of the best UK's female purple belts who had been a purple for the last one and a half years. Despite being the underdog Michelle managed to have a good performance, having an excellent start early in the match and fighting with all her heart till the very end of the seven minute match conceding only a few points to her opponent, who eventually made her way to the final and was declared the winner of this tough women's category.
The next day, on Saturday, it was Keith Darmanin's turn to fight his first fight as a Brown Belt. In his first fight he showed excellent Jiu-Jitsu were he had total control over his opponent, scoring several points and achieving dominant positions from where he finally got the choke from the top position. For his second fight, Keith had to face an opponent who skipped the first round since he passed by automatically and unfortunately he wasn't able to impose his game and lost this semi-final fight, although with his previous win he secured the Bronze medal for our Team.