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New Breed: Jiu Jitsu Takedown Squad
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New Breed: Jiu Jitsu Takedown Squad

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Although jiu jitsu has been known for producing keen guard players, the sport’s history books show a long line of incredible takedown artists.

The takedown might have lost its relevance in the lower weight classes, where the unpassable guards have been the main grappling tool and double guard pulling the only rhetoric in the stand-up discourse. But the higher up in the scales we go, the more urgent it becomes to have alternatives to the bottom game. This same rule is relevant in the open weight division, where the sport only had 3 absolute World Champions who weren’t takedown machines, in over 20 years of IBJJF World Championships; they were – Rodrigo Comprido (1999/2000), Márcio Cruz (2002/2003) and more recently Bernardo Faria (2015).

It is certainly true that the 1990’s were somewhat of a passing of the guard (pun intended), between the “takedown > guard passing” orientated competitor to the guard player. Guards have since played a dominant role in the sport, however, there is an emerging trend among the latest generation of jiu jitsu athletes that looks set on bringing back some of the stand-up the sport has been lacking. This may come as a surprise to some, but we are slowly witnessing the rise of the takedown artist.

We will give you an example of why we believe this to be true: In 2010, only 2 of the athletes who medalled in the adult male black belt division were known for battling for takedowns (Roger Gracie and Xande Ribeiro).

2011 saw an increase of those numbers, with Marcus Buchecha, Rodolfo Vieira, Joao Assis and Alexandro Ceconi (4). A number that was maintained the following year, but rose up to 7 in 2013 through Vitor Oliveira, Andre Galvao, Xande Ribeiro, Rodolfo Vieira, Joao Gabriel Rocha, Buchecha and Leo Leite in a perfect mix between old and new generation grapplers.

In the last couple of years we have witnessed more high quality takedown athletes arriving to the black belt division. Names such as Tim Spriggs, Victor Honório, Erberth Santos, Lucas Hulk, Joao Gabriel Rocha, Jared Dopp, etc. These men are setting the ground for many more who are brewing in the lower belt divisions. This article is here to shine some light on five of these rising stars of the sport:

ISAQUE BAHIENSE (ALLIANCE)

Isaque-BahienseBelt Rank: Brown
Weight Division: Middleweight
Coach: Fábio Gurgel/Fábio Andrade

Medals:
World Champion (2013 blue)
European Open Champion (2016 brown)
Pan American Championship 2nd Place (2015 purple, 2016 brown)
World Championship 3rd Place (2014 purple, 2015 purple)

One of the latest signings of Fábio Gurgel for the Alliance team, Bahiense is a product of the illustrious Fábio Andrade (Nova Uniao Bangú), the same coach who developed Márcio André, Paulo Henrique and many others.

Isaque has made a name for himself with a fast paced and athletic game, of which the takedowns are among of his most utilized weapons. Bahiense loves to attack the legs, but also kouchi and ouchi gari.

FELIPE BEZERRA (CHECKMAT)

Felipe-BezerraBelt Rank: Brown
Weight Division: Ultra Heavy
Coach: Bruno Barreto

Medals:

Pan American Champion (2016 brown)
World Championship 2nd Place (2015 purple)
Pan American Championship 3rd Place (2015 purple)
Brazilian National Championship 3rd Place (2015 purple)
Abu Dhabi World Pro 3rd Place (2016 brown)

The northeast of Brazil has been growing in strength in the past couple of years, and Felipe Bezerra is an excellent example of how much the region has grown in terms of grappling quality.

A product of Checkmat’s Natal (RN), as well as an accomplished judo competitor, Felipe showed a ton of talent in the purple belt division, and seems set to continue his run as a brown belt, having already conquered this year’s (2016) Pan American title.

MUSLIM PATSARIGOV (RGA – Norway)

Muslim-PatsarigovBelt Rank: Brown
Weight Division: Ultra Heavy
Coach: Felipe “Gargamel”

Medals:

World No-Gi Championship 3rd Place (2015 brown weight + absolute)
World Pro Championship 2nd Place (2016 brown)
European Open 2nd Place (2013 blue)

Not much is known of the Russian/Chechen athlete who settled in Norway many years ago. Patsarigov started wrestling at the age of 4, having in his kata guruma/fireman’s carry one of his most utilized weapons. Earlier this year Patsarigov won the Finnish National Championship in the mixed brown/black belt division, beating 4 black belts on the way to the podium. Muslim also won a silver medal at the Abu Dhabi World Pro and is an avid competitor in Europe’s no-gi circuit.

RONALDO de JESUS (GFTEAM)

Ronaldo-JesusBelt Rank: Brown
Weight Division: Ultra Heavy
Coach: Julio César/Fábio Andrade

Medals:

Brazilian National Champion (2016 brown/ 2013 blue)
Brazilian National Championship 3rd Place (2014 purple)

Much like the aforementioned Isaque Bahiense, Ronaldo (or “Robin” as he is commonly known) is yet another product of Fábio Andrade’s academy, though he recently moved to Meier, to train with Master Julio Cesar’s GFTeam.

Fresh out of a win at the Brazilian Nationals, Robin has been making a career out of his strong and pressure based top game. A game imposed by de Jesus’ superior takedown ability. A mix of good judo trips and (when required) fast leg attacks. Certainly a competitor to keep your eyes on in the future.

JOHN COMBS (EASTON TRAINING CENTRE)

John-CombsBelt Rank: Brown
Weight Division: Middleweight
Coach: Amal Easton

Medals:

Pan American Champion (2016 brown)
World Championship 3rd Place (2015/14 purple)
Pan American Championship 3rd Place (2016 brown/2015 purple)

One of the most exciting competitors to watch in jiu jitsu’s brown belt middleweight division, John Combs mixes excellent takedown ability with killer submission instinct.

A product of the legendary Amal Easton and his academy in Colorado, John’s takedown approach is perfect for jiu jitsu; a combination of classic judo throws from collar ties with rapid wrestling style leg attacks, the latter being a style in which Combs competed extensively. Combs is a delight to watch for any fans of exciting and forward thinking grappling.

John is a complete package, playing well from top and bottom, though his mix of takedowns and quick submissions already rival those of any top tier black belt.

On the Honorable mentions list we have allocated some of the sport’s top talent. Grapplers with great takedown ability, though less driven to play primarily from the top: Eduardo Tinoco (Purple Belt – Ryan Gracie), Mike Perez (Purple Belt – Atos), Rolando Sampson (Brown Belt – Atos), Gutemberg Pereira (Brown Belt – GFTeam), Max Gimenes (Brown Belt – GFTeam), Nick Schrock (Purple Belt – Gracie Humaita)

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