Many class jiu jitsu as an individual sport, though historically the team element has been just as strong. A huge part of this martial art’s lifestyle/culture, the “who do you train with?” question can often be revealing of one’s perceived worth on the mats. This is not devoid of reason, the quality of one’s skill is greatly influence by the level of training partners and instruction, which leads us to this article where we focus on which teams have brought forward the strongest armies to this year’s most important grappling tournament: The 2018 IBJJF World Championship.
The numbers of athletes brought forward to and event of his magnitude plays a huge role in any attempt at conquering a team medal here. If the past few years are an indicator of how many you need to win the adult male/female team divisions, it shows that one must be with the top 5 largest teams in numbers of competitors.
Historically Gracie Barra has brought the biggest armies of athletes, with Alliance over taking that trend in the latter events. But last years World Champion team, Atos JJ is quickly climbing the ranks of these two more established beacons of BJJ and is once again very well positioned to steal the show.
Here are the top 10 larges armies at the 2018 IBJJF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.
RIBEIRO JIU JITSU (43 soldiers)
The Ribeiro Brothers (Saulo and Xande) are two of the most iconic athletes the jiu jitsu world has ever witnessed, and the wealth of experience and knowledge they carry has certainly trickled down to their representatives. Known for their “no nonsense” approach to jiu jitsu, The Ribeiro JJ way is a classic school of grappling where takedowns, pressure passing and solid foundation movements are consistent throughout the program. This style is embedded on their black belt squad this year, which features Nick Schrock, Alexandre Ribeiro, Gustavo Dias and James Puopolo.
The world famous “6 Blades” team is also bringing good numbers of colored belts, and we take the Pans as an example of their capabilities you can expect to see them in the top 5 this year.
CARLSON GRACIE ACADEMY (51 soldiers)
One of the legendary jiu jitsu teams of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Academia Carlson Gracie was once regarded as the juggernaut of BJJ. After the split in the early 2000’s and the turn towards MMA, the jiu jitsu base suffered with years of insufficient competitors to challenge for the top. The numbers shown this year show an impressive shift upwards and we look forward to seeing the Bulldogs back on the mats causing havoc.
There are a few interesting prospects from this resurgence of talent. One that has impressed us over the past couple of years is blue belt phenom Rafaela Rosa, who we’ve seen plenty of at the IBJJF European Open where she conquered her 3rd straight title this year.
NOVA UNIÃO (52 soldiers)
Much like the aforementioned Carlson Gracie, Nova União was at the top of the heat in the early 1990’s being largely regarded as the best lightweight team in the world. Since then a turn to MMA and some internal structural changes have put down the fire once felt by this 2x IBJJF Worlds winning team.
Over the past 5 years the team has been climbing back through the lower belt divisions and is now ready to pose a threat to some of the bigger teams. NU will have in Márcio Andre, Alex Sodré, Silvio Duran, Luan Carvalho and Horlando Monteiro their best known athletes with some other lesser known competitors waiting for their time to shine.
GRACIE HUMAITÁ (61 soldiers)
Arguably the most iconic female team in our sport, Humaitá placed on the top 3 female academies at the IBJJF World Championship from 2005 to 2016, winning 4 of those (2007, 2008, 2009, 2016). They will be pressing to reclaim their status as one of the best, and have the army to accomplish the mission at hand – even without two heavy payers for the scores this year (Ana Schmitt and Mackenzie Dern).
The ‘iconic’ factor does not stop with the female division. GH is the oldest jiu jitsu team on the tournament, carrying a wealth of tradition. The most impressive tradition of which is carried by Humatá’s front man, Wellington ‘Megaton’ Dias. The 50 year old who still competes in the adult division, this being Megaton’s 22nd IBJJF Mundial appearance.
BRASA CTA (65 soldiers)
One of the strongest coalitions in the sport, the Brasa CTA team merges the jiu jitsu players of two big academies: Brasa Clube de Jiu Jitsu and Caio Terra Association. The team is coming in very strong this year, particularly in the lower weight classes with Caio Terra/Tomoyuki Hashimoto at rooster, Mikey Musumeci/Rene Lopez at light feather and Gabriel Marangoni at feather, all of which have a real chance at gold this year.
Other black belt athletes who are on a straight path to victory are Tami Musumeci, Kristina Baarlan, Yuri Simões and newcomer Rudson Mateus. On top of these, Brasa CTA is also bringing a very strong juvenile team which will rival Atos’ strong front as well as some of the toughest blue belts on the planet. The future is bright for this camp.
GF TEAM (118 soldiers)
A huge jump for GF Team over the past 8 years in numbers of athletes. Much like Ribeiro JJ – which we mentioned above, GFT is known for its traditional jiu jitsu style where solid knowledge of takedowns, grinding pressure passing and closed guard have been key elements for success. Now, as GFT grows in numbers, we see plenty of modern jiu jitsu in the squad – particularly in the lower weight classes.
Last year GFT took Gracie Barra, Checkmat and Cicero Costa out of the podium race with ease, placing 3rd in the overall scores. For 2018 Master Julio César, the leader of the team, relocated to the US showing an investment in the future of the camp, will this be GFT’s year?
CHECKMAT (145 soldiers)
Another huge team with a strong chance to make the podiums this year his Checkmat who has come in with a real army of blue belts. 51 to be more precise, more than what many teams have brought overall.
Checkmat’s key to victory lies in the lower belt divisions where athletes such juvenile blue belt Rodrigo Mariani as well as the Luna brothers (Matheus and Mathias) and Gomes brothers (Jonata and Jansen) have big chances of coming out on top. The cherry on top will obviously be black belt powerhouse and the most accomplished athlete in the world Marcus Buchecha who will be trying to break his own record of open weight titles this year.
ATOS (186 soldiers)
Arguably the most complete team on the planet, Atos’ range of talent is wide and well spread. With AOJ’s wrecking ball of a juvenile squad and André Galvão‘s mighty brown and black belt line-up the California based camp conquered last year’s Word tournament. This year they have continued to grow, bringing in more high level talent in Gustavo Braguinha, Luiza Monteiro, Lucas Pinheiro to name a few.
In our eyes, even though they do not have the numbers of athletes shown by Gracie Barra or Alliance, Atos is the team to beat at the Mundial.
GRACIE BARRA (199 soldiers)
Over the past few years Gracie Barra has been focused on raising a strong juvenile team, and although the hard work was proven effective at a youth level, the adult division suffered from it. 2018 will be a good year to pick up where they left off and indeed it seems as though the Red Shield is back in business.
Gracie Barra has the largest network of academies in the world, bringing competitors from all corners of the world. One of the most diverse camps on the tournament. The variety and numbers brought forward by the team are a lesson for all other Brazilian jiu jitsu franchises in that regard.
ALLIANCE (241 soldiers)
The most dominant jiu jitsu team of this generation is Alliance, a team which originated in Rio de Janeiro but is today a global academy with high level grapplers on every continent. Much like Gracie Barra this process of expansion may affect Alliance in the future, but that is further ahead. As we stand today, Alliance will rival Atos in favoritism, a very close race between these two who will likely place 1st or 2nd.
Alliance’s strengths rely in the numbers as much as on the quality of the athletes brought forward, having one of the most detailed curriculums in the game and some of the best coaching in the game. Instructors such as Romero Cavalcanti, Alexandre Paiva, Fabio Gurgel, Rubens Cobrinha, Marcelo Garcia, Lucas Lepri to name a few.
Other important teams taking the stand at the IBJJF World Championships are – Soul Fighters (41), Team Lloyd Irvin (41), PSLPB (34), Renzo Gracie Academy (33), ZR Team (25), Ares BJJ (25), Unity Jiu-jitsu (24), Roger Gracie Academy (15), Ns Brotherhood (14), Paragon (12), Tri-Force (11), Frontline (9), ATT (8), Absolute MMA (8).