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Rising European Grapplers 2019

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Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations

As we have done over the past few years (Check here the 2016, 2017 and 2018 lists), BJJ Heroes returns to its tradition of raising attention to a handful of European athletes from the lower belt divisions whom we believe have the potential to reach the top of the BJJ ladder in the next few years.

The sport has continuously grown all across the globe, and although 2019 was not a particularly successful year for European talent when assessing the top 3 IBJJF tournaments, there was still plenty of talent to scout in the Old Continent. Battle-tested athletes with worldwide experience whom we hope to display to a larger audience here today. So without further ado…

RODRIGO MARIANI (FightZone, London)

Age: 16 // Country: England // Rank: Blue // Division: Medium-Heavy

For the second year in a row, we have a teenage prodigy from the FightZone – London Academy, an affiliated school to the Checkmat Association. Back in our 2018 list, we had picked Mariani’s teammate and Portuguese-English athlete Junior Fernandes to be part of our list, Junior went on to conquer 2019s Pans and World Championship. Rodrigo, on the other hand, already has an IBJJF World title to his credit, but we expect him to collect a few more before he turns the page to the black belt level in a few years time.

16-year-old Rodrigo is another skilled competitor arriving from Fight Zone London’s kids’ program, a class developed by coach Marco Canha, who’s been guiding the young British-Brazilian grappler, Mariani, since his pre-teens. Mariani brings a high level of athleticism, with which he’s had tremendous success even when competing in the adult division – where he conquered several national-level titles. Lightening fast back-takes and acrobatic maneuvers are not uncommon in Mariani’s matches, a fun athlete to watch compete with a bright future in this sport.

– 2018 Gold Medal IBJJF World Championship
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF European NoGi Open**
– 2018 Gold Medal IBJJF European NoGi Open
– 2018 Gold Medal IBJJF European Open
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF London Fall Open**
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF Austin Summer Open**
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF Las Vegas Summer Open
– 2019 Silver Medal IBJJF European Open

** Weight and Absolute

JED HUE (Ross Nichols JJ, London)

Age: 22 // Country: England // Rank: Purple // Division: Middle

Another fun athlete to follow is Ross Nicholls pupil, Jed Hue, who is the first submission-only based athlete to ever enter one of our “Rising European Grapplers” lists. Jed impressed us at the Polaris “Contenders” tournament earlier this year, where he beat several good black belts on his way to the main show.

Hue is a submission hunter and, much like his coach, a heel-hooking specialist. His style is perfectly suited for the sub-only circuit, but Jed does venture into points based tournaments also. Definitely one of the competitors to watch in the European SO circuit.

– 2019 Polaris Contenders Champion
– 2019 Kleos Grappling Champion
– 2019 Grappling Industries Champion

RAFAELA ROSA (Checkmat, Torres Vedras)

Age: 29 // Country: Portugal // Rank: Purple // Division: Feather

From a small town in the Centre-Coast of Portugal is Rafaela Rosa, a student of local black belt Hugo Miranda. Rosa is one of the most active female athletes on the IBJJF’s European circuit, having earned plenty of medals in important Open tournaments including London, Rome, Lisbon, and Geneve.

On a more international scale, armbar specialist, Rafaela is a 2x European Champion and a silver medal at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Quite the achievement for a small-town gym, who’s had at least 2 other medal placers in the European Championships, and a testament to the work being done by coach Miranda.

– 2017 Gold Medal IBJJF European Open
– 2018 Gold Medal IBJJF European Open
– 2018 Silver Medal IBJJF World Championship
– 2018 Gold Medal IBJJF Lisbon Open**
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF Rome Open**
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF London Fall Open**
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF Lisbon Open
– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF Geneve Open

** Weight and Absolute

KLAUDIA MITKO (Checkmat, Poznan)

Age: 21 // Country: Poland // Rank: Brown // Division: Light

The gym that has given us Adam Wardzinski keeps bringing us, BJJ fans, more top-level talent. After Jakub Najdek, now it is the time for Kaudia Mitko to shine.

An open guard specialist with a nasty triangle, Mitko had a brilliant competitive 2019, earning medals in two of the top 3 tournaments on the international schedule. Being only 21 years of age, and already competing at this level, we expect Kaudia to be a force in the near future.

– 2019 Gold Medal IBJJF European Open
– 2019 Bronze Medal IBJJF European Open*
– 2019 Silver Medal IBJJF Pan Championship
– 2019 Silver Medal UWW European Open
– 2018 Bronze Medal UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro
– 2017 Silver Medal UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro

* Absolute

YAROSLAV BLAZHKO (ZR Team, Kyiv)

Age: 26 // Country: Ukraine // Rank: Brown // Division: Feather

We have been anxiously waiting for Eastern European countries to pick up an interest in jiu-jitsu, and slowly but surely that interest has been gaining momentum. Yaroslav Blazhko is an example of that crescendo.

The student of Ievgen Skyrda and a member of the Ze Radiola Team affiliate in Kyiv, Ukraine, Blazhko has a very modern game, heavily influenced by the Miyao Brothers with berimbolos, leg-weaves and stack passes, with which he conquered 3 medals at the top 3 tournaments in the jiu-jitsu world today.

– 2017 Gold Medal European Open
– 2019 Silver Medal Pan Championship
– 2019 Bronze Medal World Championship
– 2019 Bronze Medal European Open
– 2018 Bronze Medal World NoGi Championship
– 2018 Silver Medal UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro
– 2018 Silver Medal European Open

Submission Back Attacks Instructional by John Danaher

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