Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Jiu-Jitsu Athlete of the Year: 2013

OntheMat used to do something like this. Not sure if they still do. But I'm more than happy to open up the shop, turn the lights on, and let everybody get a few rolls in for the day.

Marcus Vinicius Oliveira de Almeida - CheckMat

When you win your division and the open class at both the Pan and the Mundial, you are the jiu-jitsu athlete of the year, period.

The open class is the often-unappreciated feature of sport Jiu-jitsu. In some ways, there is no greater testament to the martial integrity of jiu-jitsu than the presence, if not pre-eminence, of an open class competition and an open class champion.

So while there are other performances from 2013 that may hold much mystery and anticipation for the future, the ability of the young man from Sao Paulo to meet the ultimate grappling challenge - win your division, win the absolute, twice in one year - deserves the highest praise.

Honorable Mention

Kron Gracie - Kron Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Any other year, Kron Gracie's exciting run to the gold medal at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's biannual championships, submitting all four opponents in his path, would be the easy call for jiu-jitsu athlete of the year.

Was Kron Gracie's unheard of run through his division at the ADCC championships something we should have seen coming after his impressive performance against Marcelo Garcia at the previous Abu Dhabi? Maybe it was his exciting endurance contest against two-time Mundial champion Otavio Sousa in the Metamoris submission-only event that should have warned us what was coming?

There were moments of domination and danger for the son of Rickson Gracie at last year's ADCC in China. But the fact that Kron was consistently able to maintain his composure - and maintain his hunt for the submission - in contest after contest is the stuff of every competitors dreams.