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NEWS 2014

IBJJF European Jiu-Jitsu Open 2014

Once again, the IBJJF organised the European Jiu-Jitsu Open 2014 in Portugal and for this year's edition three members from our team travelled to Lisbon to compete in the biggest Jiu-Jitsu competition held in Europe, with over 2500 competitors registered for this year's edition. On Friday 24th January, Joe Vella competed in the Blue Belt Master 2 category and Michelle Zarb took part in the Adult Female Purple category. Both members had a tough first fight and, although they both had a good performance, they were stopped from progressing to their next round.

The following day, Keith Darmanin competed in the Brown Belt Master 2 were he managed to reach the final to meet the current European champion. In his semi-final match Keith displayed excellent strategy and skill and he was able to go ahead on points (19 - 0) and then secured a choke from the back in the last minute of the match. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to repeat the same strategy in the final and thus he placed 2nd bringing home the Silver medal.

Abu Dhabi UK Trials 2014

On the 14th February, four members of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team competed at the Abu Dhabi UK Trials held in Birmingham, UK. This competition was a qualifier for the prestigious World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Cup, which is held annually in Abu Dhabi and supported by the Supreme Prince and Commander in Chief of the United Arab Emirates National Army, H.H Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Edward Muscat and Gordon Carter competed in the same category and managed to get Silver and Bronze medal respectively. Edward showed great improvement since his last competition and he only missed the final by a few points. Gordon Carter, gold medallist at last year’s Rome Open, was stopped at his semi-final match by the same opponent who eventually won the category.

On his debut in BJJ competitions, Stephan Swain was unlucky when he lost his first match due to referee decision, something which rarely happens in BJJ since usually the match is won either via a tap out or on points. Since the match remained a draw till the end the referee had to declare a winner and it went to Swain’s opponent. Also competing was Matthew Azzopardi, who also had an excellent performance were we won his first matches, advancing to the semi-final. Unfortunately during this match some points were not awarded to the Maltese competitor and he got eliminated from the competition.

Later on next month, BJJ Team Malta will host a BJJ training seminar conducted by their head international instructor Rogerio Olegario, a Brazilian BJJ Black Belt teaching in Brazil, Italy and other European countries.

Mestre Rogerio Olegario Seminar and Promotions

March 2014 ended with another BJJ seminar with Mestre Rogerio Olegario, which was spread over four days. All sessions were attended by various members of BJJ Team Malta along with other exponents of other martial arts. During this seminar Rogerio showed various techniques from the vast Jiu-Jitsu repertoire, including different sweeps & passes, chokes, arm locks and devastating leg locks.

At the end of the seminar, he promoted Gordon Carter to Blue Belt, whilst Jozua Curmi and Joseph Abela to Purple Belt.

IBJJF Paris Open 2014

Four members of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team Malta competed in the Paris Jiu-Jitsu Open organised on the 28/29th June by the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation. Zack Galea, Jeremy Mangion and Conrad Zammit had a good performance in their BJJ competitive debut, were both Zack and Jeremy managed to win their first round in their category.

Matthew Azzopardi competed in an advanced category (Gi category) where he managed to comfortably win his first match on points. Unfortunately he made an infringement in his second match and got disqualified. The day after he competed in the No-Gi category were he managed to redeem his mistake and won a Bronze medal.

Six medals at the Malta Grappling Challenge

On Saturday 9th August, 6 members from BJJ Team Malta took part in the Malta Grappling Challenge which is a local grappling competition. This year’s edition, which is organised by a local MMA club, was held in a cage with IBJJF rules, ie. no slamming, no knee reap, etc. Since the number of grapplers in Malta is still very low, there were only 4 adult weight classes and one juvenile categoty. Bjj Team Malta was represented in 3 categories only, the -70kgs, -80kgs and the -90kgs.

In the -70kgs, Matthew Camilleri and Stephan Swain, achieved Gold and Bronze medal respectively. In his final match, Camilleri managed to submit his opponent by a rear choke. Both Camilleri and Swain train BJJ with our club and MMA with the organising club. Athletes from BJJ Team Malta have been winning this category since the first edition of MGC.

In the -80kgs category we had 3 members competing, Joe Vella, Zack Galea and Jeremy Mangion, all weighing much less than 80kgs since they compete in -76kgs in Jiu-Jitsu. Galea and Mangion managed to win a bronze medal, were Mangion had to face his own team mate Joe Vella in the semi-final. Joe Vella had a very balanced final match against a strong opponent from Serbia and when the match was over the result ended 3-2 in favour of the Serbian guy, thus Vella won the Silver medal.

In the -90kgs Joseph Abela, was in a class of his own both physically and technically. In his first match he scored nearly 30 points and then finished the match with a rear choke. In his final match, he faced another Serbian opponent where he managed to impose his game and superiority throughout the whole match, again finishing with a rear choke. Unfortunately the absolute category was not held this year.

London Gi & No-Gi Championships 2014

On the 18-19th October four members from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team Malta competed in the London Jiu-Jitsu International Open. On Saturday Matthew Azzopardi, Neville Thomas, Michelle Zarb and Keith Dadmanin took part in the Gi competition. Both Azzopardi and Thomas, despite having a good performance, didn't manage to pass their first round. In her first match, Michelle Zarb managed to submit her opponent in less than 2 minutes by a devastating wrist lock, whilst in her final match she arm locked her opponent in less than 30 seconds. An excellent and convincing performance by Zarb, leaving no doubt who was the winner, Gold for Malta. Meanwhile, Keith Darmanin managed to win a Bronze medal in his weight category and a Silver medal in the Absolute division eliminating two heavier opponents who outweighed him by more than 10-15kgs, one by choke and one by points/verbal tap.
Sunday it was time for the Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi competition. Again Azzopardi failed to surpass the initial round, being eliminated on points by the runner up of the category which had 15 competitors.  Michelle Zarb, who had no one in her weight class, had to move one weight class above and fought in the -58kgs category which is 6kgs above her weight division. In her final match Zarb demonstrated excellent skill by not giving away any points to her opponent. After a tough 7 minute battle, her opponent emerged victorious by a slight advantage, thus Silver for Zarb. Instructor Darmanin, who was recovering from fever, looked more sharp and focused than the day before. In his weight class he managed to earn points from a takedown, passed and secured a good position from were he choked out his opponent, who won the Gi division the day before. Darmanin won Gold in his division and another Bronze in the Absolute later on during the day.

Mestre Rogerio Olegario Seminar Dec'14

The year 2014 ended up with another seminar with our Professor Rogerio Olegario, which included two Gi and one No-Gi sessions. During the last Gi session on Sunday 14th, most of the students were awarded another stripe to their current belt. After that, Professor Olegario took out a Black Belt and awarded it to Keith Darmanin as recognition for his technical knowledge, competition results, commitment and dedication as an active competitor and also as an instructor. Thus, Keith Darmanin, who is also a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Japanese Ju-Jitsu, became the first ever Maltese to be promoted to the prestigious rank of Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The traditional gauntlet followed!