Coming short in the semi-final of his lightweight division, AJ Agazarm came stronger in the absolute defeating the middle heavyweight champion Thiago Sá and super heavyweight silver medalist Ricardo Ribeiro to fight Paulo Miyao in the final. In this interesting story, AJ tells us about his stay and his first tournament in Brazil. Check out also 8 action shots of his matches.
"I came firing out with a takedown very early in the match, and as opposed to being shook by it as most of my opponents do, Miyao answered right back with attacks of his own."
To travel to Brazil to compete in the sport of Jiu Jitsu has been a long time desire for me and I'm very glad it was able to happen this time. I did not even have my visa until the day before I flew out. To make a long story longer, I didn't even know I needed a visa to travel to Brazil as an American until the topic came up at lunch with Kayron the weekend before I left for New York. Thankfully, things came together in the end thanks to my very smart friends. My advice, if you're planning a visit out of the country, check visa requirements well in advance.
Brazil is a beautiful place, but the traffic here, not so much. Sao Paulo is an extremely populated city. I wish it was a bit more sunny and I wish I had some extra time to visit the beach, but the açai here has kept me satisfied in the meantime as it always does. Everyone keeps telling me the place I must visit is Rio de Janeiro, so this certainly won't be the last visit I will have in Brazil, I plan to come back for the Rio Open, carry a few more seminars, and enjoy some açai on the beach, but in regards to it being my first visit here, I feel it went fairly well. I was able to make it from the Guarulhos airport to Gracie Barra Panamby by metro transit all by myself without getting screwed over by taxi cab drivers. That is an accomplishment in and all by itself aside from the medals of the tournament of course. Imagine me, a portuguese speaking gringo with long blonde hair finding his way on the metro for a good hour long trip. It was exciting.
"The tournament itself was ran incredibly well, but with tournaments I've learned to expect the unexpected."
As far as the competition goes, I had a blast! It was like nothing I ever experienced before. Only something I had imagined in my head of what it would be like. The tournament itself was ran incredibly well, but with tournaments I've learned to expect the unexpected. Like my Kimono not passing the GI check the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd attempt through due to the length not being long enough from my forearm. I kept stretching and re-stretching until it passed. I carried a spare, but I preferred my Shoyoroll Gi over the spare. I had finished my 4th match in the bracket by the same time someone in the same bracket on the other page just finished his 2nd, but thats the way of the warrior. Things aren't always methodically organized or laid out in black and white. I've learned to control the chaos and make the most of things without excuses as to why things happened or didn't happen the way they did. Especially when it comes to a competition, because for me, the positive energy carries into my performance. If I feel frustrated or annoyed by things, then that begins to pull me from my optimum level of performance. I've learned to just embrace it all as part of the process and enjoy everything all as a single experience.
Now as far as the battles go, I had a total of 8 matches and they were some wars! The surface of the mats for the brown and black belt adult divisions is the hottest. Any minor mistake and you get burned, quickly. So you gotta be on point if you want to come out alive. I'm not upset I lost because I have been very fortunate to do as well as I have and whether its losing, winning, being in a new place, or just the new challenges that are ahead, something new is always learned. The only thing that I would have like to have seen was my rematch of the finals (against Rafael Henrique) from the PanAms earlier this year, but I'm sure somewhere along the way our paths will cross again.
"Bongos playing during the tournament, brazilian chants echoing across the arena, and having cheers for me in a foreign country, I thought that was pretty cool."
For the second year in a row, the brown belt absolute carried an American in the finals, and this year both the brown and the black belt absolutes carried an American in the finals. My teammate Orlando Sanchez who had been the first American to win double gold last year at brown belt was mat side coaching me the entire tournament. Bongos playing during the tournament, brazilian chants echoing across the arena, and having cheers for me in a foreign country, I thought that was pretty cool.
All of this was cool, but the one thing that really stood out to me the most about this trip was my match with Paulo Miyao in the finals of the absolute, but before I get into that, the reader should be reminded that to the untrained eye, Jiu Jitsu can come across to the public as not very appealing to watch. In order for this sport to evolve, now this is what I think, I can't speak for anyone else, that it is part of our duty as competitors to keep this sport entertaining so that those who don't know Jiu Jitsu, will be drawn to it because of what they saw as opposed to scratching their heads saying, "I don't know what's happening."
With that said, it would have been very easy for me to go out there pull guard and play a slow, methodical, chess match like game with Paulo, but clearly that wasn't what happened. I know I made mistakes in the fight especially after watching the video, but my style of fighting is "Porradaria" (brawling) and sometimes this style is more susceptible to mistakes being made, but I didn't have anything to lose. I had nothing to be cautious about. I was the American, in Brazil, in the finals of the brown belt absolute challenging a smaller opponent for the Brazilian National Absolute Title and that in itself was really cool for me.
"...it is part of our duty as competitors to keep this sport entertaining so that those who don't know Jiu Jitsu, will be drawn to it because of what they saw"
But the strength of Miyao is incredible and I'm not talking about his grip strength, I'm referring to his mental toughness. That is what stood out most to me. I came firing out with a takedown very early in the match, and as opposed to being shook by it as most of my opponents do, Miyao answered right back with attacks of his own. Before I knew it, like a monkey, he was on my back fighting, I mean literally fighting, to strangle me. Paulo too embraced the "Porradaria" style of fighting in that match and to me I can appreciate that, because it not only gives me a battle to appreciate, but aides to the growth of the sport for more people to appreciate. So, my hat off to you Paulo. You are an amazing competitor and I look forward to seeing your future success in the sport and hope one day again we can battle "Porradaria" style.
As far as what's next for me. I'm leaving Brazil tomorrow to Florida to spend some time with my family and see my Professor Eduardo de Lima before I head back to California for the Mundial Camp in Irvine. I'm looking forward to Worlds this year because it's going to a big transition for me either way in my career. After that I will be preparing for my trip to Beijing for the ADCC. Feel free to follow my Instagram and Twitter: @TheFloridaBoy and my Facebook Fanpage for more updates! Having that support from all of you keeps me motivated, thank you!"
Coming short in the semi-final of his lightweight division, AJ Agazarm came stronger in the absolute defeating the middle heavyweight champion Thiago Sá and super heavyweight silver medalist Ricardo Ribeiro to fight Paulo Miyao in the final. In this interesting story, AJ tells us about his stay and his first tournament in Brazil. Check out also 8 action shots of his matches."It's been amazing being here in Brazil for the first time. I was welcomed by Rafael Ferraz and the Gracie Barra Panamby family here in Sao Paulo. The brotherhood that Gracie Barra carries worldwide is amazing. I can go almost anywhere in the world and be embraced by such a wonderful comradeship. Only Jiu Jitsu can offer this.