Grappling for gold in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Lyna Mohammad

Gold medallist Rasimoon bin Adinin from Brunei Darussalam stood proudly on the podium at the recent Jakarta Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2019 Open, after clinching the top spot in the category despite his opponent being much more experienced in the sport.

Speaking to the Bulletin at his training ground at Khalifa Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Rasimoon noted that he started the sport back in December 2011 under the guidance of the current Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Head Coach at Khalifa MMA Ahmad Faez bin Haji Anuar – better known among the Jiu Jitsu athletes as Eazy.

With no knowledge on BJJ at the time, Rasimoon just wanted to do an activity together with his son and, coincidentally, Eazy – who was also his rugby teammate at club and national level – was teaching the sport. Rasimoon decided to give it a try and it has since ignited a passion for Jiu Jitsu.

An employee in the oil and gas industry, Rasimoon shared that, depending on his work and family commitments, he tries to train three times a week. But when preparing for a competition, he trains more days in the week and adds in other cardio activities like hiking or running.

“Sometimes our coach would organise competition training to help us prepare. Apart from that we have to be disciplined, not just in training but also in our diet as we have to maintain our weight, depending on the weight category we are in,” he said. “Usually before joining a tournament, the preparations include making sure I maintain my weight by eating clean and healthy. I train by setting up my game plan and practicing until it becomes muscle memory.”

Rasimoon bin Adinin during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu session. PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI
Rasimoon started the sport back in December 2011
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Head Coach at Khalifa MMA Ahmad Faez bin Haji Anuar – better known among the Jiu Jitsu athletes as Eazy. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

He also does more cardio training to maintain his fitness level and improve his conditioning. At the same time he has to be careful not to get injured during training.

“I would also review my techniques and improve them and would ask my coaches and fellow training partners on techniques that I may still need to improve on.”

In his first competition, Rasimoon attained a silver medal at a tournament in Kota Kinabalu in 2014. Since then, he has competed almost annually in different levels of competition and has two other gold medals in his collection, which were from the Philippine National Pro 2016 and Thai Martial Arts Festival 2018.

His other medals include silver medals at the Pan Asia 2016 in Manila and Sabah Open 2017, while he also gained bronze medals at the Bangkok Open 2016 and Asian Championship 2018 Open in Tokyo.

Speaking on how he maintains his confidence prior to competing and the feeling of having to compete with international participants who are more experienced, Rasimoon shared that he keeps in mind what their head coach would say.

“Getting ourselves on the mat and competing is already winning, as not many people have the courage to compete, and what’s more important is that we either win or we learn. There’s no losing. If we didn’t win, we just go back to training and fix our mistakes and improve our techniques.”

“Competing against international competitors is a great experience. Whether I win or lose the fight, there is always something that I gain or learn from my opponent.

“It also provides a great opportunity for me to assess my ability and skills in the sport when competing against other fighters who perhaps may have been in the sport longer than I have,” said Rasimoon.

BJJ has in fact been around for a long time and has been made popular by Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) organisations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and One FC.

“So for Brunei, I wish for the sport to continue to grow as it teaches not just self-defense but other values as well such as discipline, respect, humility, true sportsmanship and unity – like you’re in one big family. At the club that I train at, everyone is like family, we leave our ego outside and when we train on the mats, we train by helping each other get better. At every competition I go to, I would meet new people and make new friends and everyone is so welcoming.”

He shared that Brunei has potential to compete more at the international level, and that there are many fighters here who are even better than him and have also won at competitions.

“It is definitely developing. As you can see, it was included in the last Asian Games in Indonesia, and recently it was introduced as an introductory event during the SEA Games in Singapore and now has been included in the recent SEA Games in the Philippines.”

Rasimoon thanked his head coach Eazy, who is currently the highest ranking belt in BJJ in Brunei and continues to promote and teach the sport in the Sultanate.

“We now have more and more BJJ athletes – children, men and women – and those who have won at various competitions, have potential to compete at higher level and make the country proud.”

Head Coach Eazy expressed his desire to see a lot more people try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

“I would love to see more young generations joining in because they can start at a really young age and then in their mid-20s or 30s they will be in their prime, which is a good time for them to compete because I do believe we have a good chance on winning medals for this sport.”

Asked whether he thinks the sport will develop in Brunei as it has in other countries, he said, “It definitely will. I know we are a bit slow to start because everywhere else it has been around for a long time, and it has got to do with geography and our exposure. Especially now, a lot of our younger generations have come back from studying abroad, some of whom might have tried Jiu Jitsu abroad, so it’s definitely evolving.”

Eazy noted that now more and more people are getting into the sport, and that their skills level is increasing year by year.

He said, “We want to make sure they are guided the right way, because the BJJ learning curve is steep, and it is easy to stray away. It can take 10 to 12 years to get a black belt.

“What we are trying to make sure of is they are constantly on the right path and we also try to emphasise giving quality instructions based on our experiences and on our guidance from our coaches.

“At the recent competition in Jakarta, four Bruneians competed – three from Khalifa MMA and one from The Refinery. They did really well, with it being their first competition in Jakarta, where there is a huge Brazilian Jiu Jitsu following and hence, the pool of competitors in their respective categories is quite big,” he added.

He highlighted that to win a medal and stand on the podium is an achievement for Bruneian participants and the nation.

“Their performance obviously is doing well. We will get them ready physically and mentally so when it is competition time, it will not feel new to them.”

Eazy affirmed that the country “definitely has the potential” to compete more at international level.