5 Takeaways From 2020 Europeans
1. Keenan Is Still on Top And Has Changed The Game
With Keenan Cornelius busy building his new academy and out of competition over the last 6 months his performance at the 2020 European Championship was questionable. Of course, we knew he would do well, but with his new responsibilities, change in training partners, and time away from the competition mat one could only assume how he’d do in a division ripe with top talent.
Our questions were answered after his first day of competition when he cut through his first few opponents in the absolute with technical precision. It were as though he hadn’t skipped a beat from last year’s World Championship. On the second day, it was more of the same. Fewer submissions, but just as much technical dominance, and a decisive victory in the heavyweight final to win him the gold.
Overall, Keenan’s performance was nothing less than remarkable, however, what was even more impressive was the overwhelming use of lapel guards in the tournament overall, from blue through black belt. Worm, squid, lapel lasso, you name it, all of Keenan’s creations were on display in Lisbon.
Keenan has single handedly revolutionized the game of gi jiu-jitsu. It was blaringly apparent that those who have not kept up with the lapel revolution were swept off their feet, pun totally intended. Even the biggest, strongest, most threatening competitors were thwarted by the mind bending entanglements of the lapels. It seems no one is safe.
I think we can fully expect two thing in the future; Keenan is still at the top of his game and will continue to win at the most elite level, and the lapel game has now woven itself into the meta game of jiu-jitsu and is here to stay.
2. Dream Art Is Taking Over
Isaque Bahiense’ new social project, Dream Art, put on an absolutely stunning performance over the course of the week at the European Championship. From blue through black belt the team brought 20 competitors and took home 19 medals, 11 of which were gold. It’s needless to say, these young adults are the future of jiu-jitsu.
Overall, the Alliance team, which Dream Art represents, won the team trophy at the 2020 European Championship and put on some of the most entertaining and heart-driven matches of the event. These kids are extremely hungry with outstanding technique for their age, which makes for a winning combination.
Under the direction of their world champion coach, Isaque Bahiense, they have incredible support, who in our recent interview was prideful not just in their medal collection but on how much they’ve improved since their previous performances. Isaque knows more than anyone that it’s not about the accolades, but the persistence to face adversity and the self growth that comes with never giving up.
We are excited to watch these fine young athletes progress through the ranks and into positive examples in the sport.
3. Ana Rodrigues Has Arrived
We knew Ana Rodrigues was a top athlete at brown belt, but a gold medal in her first major tournament as a black belt definitely made a statement. Ana competed in the featherweight division, a notoriously technical and competitive division amongst the females. She, however, made her way through her first few opponents with relative ease, securing her place in the black belt final on Sunday.
On the other side of the bracket was world champion and known scrapper Talita Alencar. Alencar has cemented her place amongst the top female featherweights in the world with multiple gold and silver medal performances at the most elite tournaments in recent years. In other words, we knew the gold medal match would be no easy task for Ana.
Once the match began however, Ana sat to guard and began to set up a combination of De La Riva and Worm guards that slowed the advances of the encroaching Alencar. Ana was able to stop any pass attempts and eventually put Talita into an omoplata that scored her an advantage.
Although that advantage is what won her the fight, is misrepresents the offensive dominance Ana maintained throughout the entire match. Not once was her guard close to being passed or was she ever in danger. She continually attacked and was in control of the bout from start to finish.
Congratulations Ana, you have a bright black belt career ahead of you.
4. Learning Is More Important Than Winning
Our YCTH. Mantra embodies our thoughts on winning…it’s secondary. It’s not about the medals but the process that’s important. Every match, every tournament, every training session, every day is a test. It’s a test of character. Will you pick yourself up and do it again? Will you persist through the challenges, the defeats?
Just as important, will you learn from your challenges and your defeats? As mentioned, Isaque told us he is most proud of his students improvements, not their medals. He explained that one of his students who lost in the final made him extremely proud because the last time that student faced the same opponent he he was defeated badly. This time he kept it close and lost merely by an advantage. That’s what it’s about.
Mahamed Aly who previously never lost a match at the European Championship took home double bronze in 2020. In his post fight interview he said he cant wait to work on the things he needs to fix and will consider new training locations and partners to set himself up for success in the future.
It’s obvious that the game is changing and those that are unwilling to evolve and keep going will be lost.
5. Our Team Is Full of Heart
Every competitor wearing the Hyperfly patch at the 2020 European Championship represented with incredible heart. Regardless of the result, all of them fought with passion and resilience. It was an honor to observe such a talented and persistent group of athletes put it on the line.
Jeremy Jackson showed great composure and beautiful technique during his matches in the black belt lightweight division. Margot Ciccerelli tore through the brown belt lightweight females on Saturday, taking home the gold medal. Nathan Mendalsohn had a scrappy match against a young up-and-comer and showed true grit.
We are proud to support you all and wish you the best on your jiu-jitsu journey.