THE TOP 12 PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA TO KEEP AN EYE ON

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    THE TOP 12 PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA TO KEEP AN EYE ON

    By Ryan Kellar

     

    As a seasoned practitioner, the process of learning and developing techniques is often the most fun and creative aspect of Jiu Jitsu. And as a brown belt, the assumption is that watching other brown belts and black belts is most desired. For me, some of the most fun I have is watching young competitors develop, especially purple belts.

    As a competitor, I make it a point to keep an eye on those who are treading close behind me…so I know what styles and players are current, as well as so I can be better prepared if I end up facing them once they start competing at my belt level.

    For me, the purple belt level is a very special step in the Jiu Jitsu education. John Danaher put it nicely when stating “I think that when most people first look at Jiu Jitsu, they see it as a sort of confusing chaos. It’s important to understand that there’s nothing random about It.”, and I feel that this is part of the realization within the belt system. You are not simply learning to add to your laundry list of moves, you are tailoring the game to your needs. More and more I am seeing players catching this learning curve sooner, even at blue belt. A friend and former training partner once explained to me that to him, the purple belt step is when you begin to express yourself through your Jiu Jitsu…it’s when you develop your own style, a style that is equivalent to a signature, distinguishable from another’s.

    Over the past couple years, a select group of purple belts have come into my horizon and have caught my eye, not only from a state of competitive dominance, but from possessing a wonderful sense of style and technique.

    And so, submitted for your approval, the top 12 purple belts in Canada to keep an eye on:

     

    *Disclaimer: Please note that the following is not intended to be a ranking system, nor is it based on statistics, but is based on personal observation.

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Alessandro Roman Camargo

     

    Arguably considered the most dominant executioner on the mats today, Alessandro has been kicking asses and taking names in almost every venue.

     

    1)     What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I represent Toronto BJJ, Saulo Ribeiro affiliation under professor Jorge Britto

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    The greatest inspiration for me in BJJ for me would have to be when I see team mates; even other competitors do well, win and come out victorious. Why I say this is because I see the hard work they put in and motivates me even more to double time it :)

    3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    My most memorable moment has to be wining the free trip to Abu Dhabi to compete in the world pro! That was a cool feeling after the numerous amount of fights I did those two days :p

    4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    I’ve actually have had the pleasure of meeting Xande Ribeiro, which is the BJJ legend I would like to meet, but if I had to pick one more that I have not, it would be Rickson Gracie

    5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    I have no preferred guard to be honest, I just like attacking from the bottom a lot from an open guard, but I would be just as comfortable on top :p

    6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I prefer Gi 100%! NoGi is still fun!

    7)      Best music for training?

     

    Depending on the training for music choice, but most of the time hip hop and rap music

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Alison Tremblay

     

    Setting herself apart from all others, Tremblay has been dominating every opponent put before her.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I train out of Alpha MMA, which is in Carleton Place, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa. My Head Coach is my father, Peter Tremblay. We are affiliated under BTT Canada, ran by Fabio Holanda. Additionally we are under the direction of Ben Meireles of The BJJ Connection.

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    My greatest inspiration I would say is my brother Michael Tremblay. I’ve never seen anyone so passionate and so dedicated to something in my life, it’s contagious. He has shown me that work is the great equalizer and as long as you put the work in everything else will follow. There have been a few fights in my career where I have felt like quitting and just hearing his voice coaching gave me the motivation to keep going. He is one of the few people in my life that know exactly what I’m going through in my training and is always eager to help me.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    That’s an easy one! My most memorable moment hands down was winning the World Championships in 2012 making me the first Canadian (male or female) to win the World Championships at that belt level or higher. I had come second in 2011 and 2010 and was beginning to question if I could ever be a world champion. The month before I had a tough loss at the Abu Dhabi Pro and decided that it was now or never. I’ve never felt more proud standing on the top of that podium that day representing not only my club, but my family, and teammates back home as well.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Being a part of BTT the obvious answer would be Murillo Bustamante, he is one of the main reasons for my success in tournaments. He has played a great part in growing the sport and getting it to where it is today. His game has greatly influenced mine.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Ah! Guard! For me guard has always been my nemesis! I used to hate every aspect of it. Hated passing it, hated playing it, and hated thinking about it. But over the past year I’ve been developing my guard game quite a bit. Right now I would have to say that I like butterfly guard and I’ve been experimenting lately with one leg x-guard.

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I get asked this all the time, and every time my answer is different. At my club we train no-Gi very rarely. However, I find as a club our Gi game very transferable to no-Gi so it works out very well. But to answer your question I would have to say Gi, I’m not very fast or explosive so I like having something to grab onto to slow my opponent down

     7)      Best music for training?

    Anything with a good beat! But slower music is good for drilling! For those tough training sessions though anything that is upbeat. My brother always has great songs to roll to.

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Josh Presley

     

    A wonderful sense of style and illusive technique, Presley continues to grow year after year, impressing many in the upper echelon of the BJJ community.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I represent Kevin Taylor (Black belt under Renzo Gracie) aka Taylor Gang BJJ aka Titans BJJ.

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    Tupac.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    In my first ever competition match I got my back taken and was in a full rear naked choke. Somewhere I got out and ended up getting on the guys back and choking him. Pretty dramatic first win.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Marcelo Garcia by far. He’s the best ever and I really look up to him. He’s everything you should try and be as a grappler.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Right now probably X guard. I get bored easy. A few months ago it was De La Riva…before that spider guard.

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I prefer Gi, but I really enjoy both.

     7)      Best music for training?

    Hip hop music. Specifically the Wu-Tang Clan. Cause they ain’t nothin’ to fuck with. And neither is the Taylor Gang.

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Vadim ‘Girafinha’ Kozlov

     

    An uncanny sense of balance and legs that seem to go on forever, this sweep machine continues to impress everywhere he goes. Not somebody to ignore.

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I represent RONIN Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Ottawa under Prof. Wade Shanley and Felipe Heidrich

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    Inspiration or aspiration? What inspires me in BJJ is that it’s about living in the moment. Aspiration: Try my best and be as helpful to others as I can be, so that everybody reaches their goals together.

    3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    Most memorable moment in BJJ is my first tournament match.

    4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Oh…come on man! Marcelo Garcia! I met him once. But I would do it again!

    5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Butterfly guard is my preference.

    6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I like both. But I think I prefer Gi right now.

    7)      Best music for training?

    Best music for training is silence. I don’t care for music while training.

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Ostap Manastyrski

     

    Just when you think he’s the underdog, you’re wrong! Ostap matches a flexible open guard with strong movements, very fun to watch.

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I represent Openmat Mixed Martial Arts. We are affiliated under 5 Star Martial Arts/Shawn Williams.

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    The stuff that’s most inspirational to me is seeing the people I know and train with doing well at high level competition. Tammy Dominick winning Pans, Kyle Youngman smashing through people at Worlds, Darson winning ADCC trials, Jonathan Thomas winning Atlanta Open, Bruce Miano steam rolling people, etc. It’s awesome when you see the hard and technical work people put in and then the results that follow.

    3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    Up to this point it would probably be my quarter final match a

    gainst Paulo Miyao at this year’s Pan. I distinctly remember the start of that match and what was going through my mind. It was my first time facing someone with a big name. Although the match didn’t go in my favour, it was a very important match in my career. I felt his level and knew I could hang.

    4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    I’m not that big on legends, I’d probably prefer to meet more of the modern guys that are doing things now (future legends, I suppose). I’ve been really fortunately to get to train with a lot of the people I’ve wanted to. That being said, I’d love to talk Jiu Jitsu with Leandro Lo (and probably a translator).

    5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    I really like Spider Guard right now, but cross guard has been starting to catch my eye a little bit recently.

    6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I started no Gi. I had this big unbleached burlap sack thing as my first gi and I hated it. I hated collar choke and all the grips that just slow you down. I started to training much more gi in 2011 and now I like it more than no gi. No gi is still great, but gi has more variables and what I like about jiu jitsu is its complexity. More variables = more fun

    7)      Best music for training?

    Finally, an important question! I’m a strong believer in listening to a wide range of music while training (when I get ready to compete it’s different). A good play list must include:

    Ellie Goulding – Lights (Shoyoroll Worlds 2012 highlight anyone?)
    Pheonix – 1901 (ditto)
    Hans Zimmer – Time
    Waka Flocka Flames – Hard In Da Paint
    No Doubt – Don’t Speak
    Of Monsters and Men – Mountain Sound
    J. Ralph – One Million Miles Away

    So let me break that down. You need your trashy euro dance, epic movie soundtrack for pretending you move like you’re in the matrix (or that you are getting revenge on the roman emperor that burned your family), ignorant hip hop, music that is way too soft for a combat sport, folky hipster songs, and that track from your favourite nostalgic highlight video of Imanari destroying people’s legs.

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Joel Hadden

     

    Flexible, powerful and sharp submissions at the drop of a hat, Hadden is one player not to give your back to. Consider him in the upper echelon of current purples.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I represent team Renzo Gracie Ottawa at the purple belt middle weight division.

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    Love the people, love the training, and love testing myself.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    I feel like this question should refer to a positive moment, though I will take a different angle to answering this question. My most memorable moments aren’t my successes but my defeats. I can recite to you a list of opponents I have lost to and how the match went. Those are my most memorable moments.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    John Danaher, GSP’s BJJ coach.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    I like to play a lot of Spider guard as I find it really ties my opponents up and frustrates them. A frustrated opponent is more likely to make a mistake. I like to sit back and wait for this mistake and capitalize.

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    95percent of the competitions and training I do is with the gi. I enjoy it a lot more because it requires a lot more thinking.

     7)      Best music for training?

    Music can be very distracting when you are trying to think during rolling so I generally do not train with music. When I do I usually like to put on some 50cent

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Jon-Taine Hall

     

    Thick skin, quick submissions, and physical force to boot, Jon-Taine continues to grow, leaving a path of riddled bodies in his wake.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    Hey, I’m Jon-Taine Hall aka The Juggernaut, Representing Toronto BJJ and Jorge Britto Jiu-Jitsu.

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    My greatest inspiration in BJJ is my daughter. I say this because when I first started Jiu-Jitsu I did so to enhance my MMA fighting ability, because becoming a Pro MMA fighter was my goal. But I fell in love with it, so much so that I introduced my daughter to it. Sometimes all I do is fight and train, even when I’m tired or hurt, because it is my job. But no matter how beat up or tired I am, I’m always re-energized when I see her doing Jiu-Jitsu or trying to submit me. It makes me remember why I love Jiu-Jitsu so much. It’s something you can share with the ones you love, and have fun with as a family.

    3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    My most memorable moment in BJJ is getting my blue belt. I felt such an immense feeling of accomplishment when I got it. It may be the lowest belt but it makes the embarkation of a life long journey. In my eyes it’s the first true steps on the BJJ path.

    4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    I meet BJJ legends all the time. The Riberio brothers (Saulo and Xande) are my favorites, I see them all the time. These guys have so many accomplishments but still make the time to share their knowledge and insights with me. On top of that they are really good and family oriented people.

     

    5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    LOL, My preferred guard is the guard I can get to the quickest! My favorite guard would be full-guard, from their back. I think some people call it taking the back, LOL. But seriously If I have to, I will settle for full-guard (on your back). I think Full guard gives you so many options and is almost always the safest bet.

    6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    Gi or No-Gi? I would have to say No-Gi because MMA is my goal, so it more fits my needs. I also like the faster pace of No-Gi in contrast to Gi. I really do see them both as a game of chess. Just at different paces.

    7)      Best music for training?

    Oh man best training music! That’s a hard one; it all depends on what’s hot right now. Well you can’t go wrong with Lil’ Wayne or Rick Ross.

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Yan Debonnel

     

    A pleasure to watch and always a guarantee of fast moving action, Debonnel showcases a flexible guard with a solid top game.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    Brazilian Top Team Canada with Professor Fabio Holanda

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    Self-improvement. I really think training martial-arts has made me a better person : disciplined, humble but confident.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    Winning the <150lbs purple belt division of the Abu Dhabi Pro Montreal Trials. It was memorable for two reasons, winning a high level competition was great, but more importantly, in the finals, I avenged a loss I had suffered a few weeks prior at the New Jersey trials. I was so happy after the match, I was running around the mat and almost got hit by the video camera they had on a moving crane.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Renato Laranja

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    If I really have to fight off my back, closed guard…

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    Gi

     7)      Best music for training?

    Rap. When I first started training BJJ, my first professor was Ahmad Zahabi and he loved to have some Jay-Z playing in the background. I can still remember drilling guard passes while ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulders’ was playing.

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Michael Tremblay

     

    Coming off recent wins over Joel Hadden and long-time rival Vadim Kozlov, few BJJ players in Canada carry as much promise as Michael Tremblay.

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I train out of Alpha MMA, which is in Carleton Place, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa. My Head Coach is my father, Peter Tremblay. We are affiliated under BTT Canada, ran by Fabio Holanda. Additionally we are under the direction of Ben Meireles of The BJJ Connection.

    2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    My greatest inspiration is my sister, Alison Tremblay! She is the first, and only, Canadian to win the Mundial at Purple Belt! She proved for me that even if we are training in a small town (under 10,000 people) we have a team and quality of coaching that is able to produce international champions. Also it is so much easier to stay dedicated to drilling, strength and conditioning, dieting etc. when you have someone there with you going through the exact same thing.

    3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    My most memorable moment in BJJ would be my first IBJJF tournament, the 2009 Pan American Championships. I Came 3rd in Blue Belt Juvenile Middle-Weight and 3rd in Absolute. The Middle weight podium was myself, Sinistro Iturralde, Michael Liera, and Tanner Rice. Keenan Cornelius was in the division too, but did not place. These guys were all huge competitors on the world scene and still are! And there I was, a kid from Carleton Place, on the podium with them in Los Angeles. That was the moment when I realized that I could be great at BJJ, and that I wanted to dedicate my life too it.

    4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Being a part of BTT Canada I have always really looked up to and wanted to meet Murillo Bustamante, and all the things he has done to help the art grow. His game has been a big influence on my own and my teammates, especially his ability to have such success in Gi, No-Gi and MMA.

    5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Tough question! It really depends on my mood. I have been really trying to expand my Spider and De La Riva games lately, but overall my favourite would be Butterfly/X-Guard due to its capacity to be effective in both Gi and NoGi.

    6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    Gi! My club has always had a heavy emphasis on playing a game that is effective in both Gi and NoGi, so I do really love the athleticism, scrambles and speed of NoGi. However nothing is more fun than the extent of options a Gi game provides.

    7)      Best music for training?

    For laid back training, I enjoy some smooth reggae like Bob Marley, or instrumental music, like Nujabes. For Harder training, I prefer either high tempo hip-hop such as Super Mash Bros., or Punk, like Rancid.

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Arther ‘Zuka’ Chandramohan

     

    Very flexible, with great sweeps, Zuka continues to impress. One triangle you don’t want to get caught in!

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    Team Ascension Toronto: Salvosa BJJ.

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    Besides my passion for the sport and my dreams of BJJ being my future career, one of my main inspirations is actually losing. From every loss I take home two things: a valuable lesson (there is no point in making a mistake if you don’t acknowledge it and correct it) and motivation to train harder. However in a nutshell, all of my previously stated mini-goals are just steps towards, hopefully, a BJJ CV with world, pan, and Abu Dhabi medals!

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    Since the day I started becoming a world champion was one of my main drives, and this year making it to the finals of the world championships was very surreal. To actually be there, and think I was one match away from accomplishing my dream was a crazy feeling.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    Without a doubt, I would love to meet and train with Viktor Estima. I model my game after him a lot even though we have relatively different builds (181 semi-stocky vs. 150 lanky). He is just a wizard from the closed guard and I like seeing that level of precision and techniques come together in his set ups.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Closed guard is my favorite by far because 99% of attacks come from the guy on the bottom, and you can’t pass closed guard, you have to open it up and pass the open guard. As a guy who plays a safe and careful game, I like the idea of that extra barrier.

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I prefer Gi because I feel I have a larger arsenal with all the feeds and grips, however I don’t mind no Gi too much and try to compete minimum once in it at each belt level.

     7)      Best music for training?

    LOL! I love RNB in general, and training is no exception. A lot of people like to get hyped up when they compete or train I like to be calm. Although my training partners hate when I play it when I roll …lol.

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Mitch MacDonald

     

    Continuing to grow; continuing to develop; continuing to impress, Mitch drives his game with contemporary guard styles and angles that lead him to finishing positions. Always fun to watch.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    Right now I am training at H20 MMA as well as with some friends of mine. I will be heading back to California eventually where I will be representing Romulo Barral team and GB Northridge though.

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    I am going to be a black belt World Champion. Jiu Jitsu is my whole life and there is nothing I won’t give to get there. It is really hard because it is more than just Jiu Jitsu that you need to work on to be Champion but I will get there.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    There are so many memorable moments mostly with training rather than competitions. One of my favourite competition memories is when I was sick for a week and didn’t get to train then refereed all day and managed to win two tough fights and win a comp net it made me realize how important the mental game is. Another good one was when I first arrived in Brazil I lived in Rio Claro and trained at Atos and one day I arrived at the academy (During a holiday season) and was all alone no one was there for class. So I was waiting for 15 minutes and Rafael Mendes shows up looks realizes I am the only one there and says “Do you want to train?” so I got to train with Rafael Mendes for the first time then one other person showed up and we all trained, It was awesome! My other favourite training memories are the crazy training sessions we had at GB Northridge especially my trainings with Edwin Najmi (he is an animal look him up if and keep an eye on him)

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    I have had the privilege of meeting and training with many of my favourites. But I would really like to get a chance to train with and learn from Samuel Braga I have met him a number of times but haven’t been able to train with him yet. Others would be Robson Moura, Bibiano Fernandes, and Ricardo Vieira.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    Dariush guard and Spider guard. Dariush guard is hand in the collar foot in the hip but my friend Benny Dariush is beast at this game so we call it Dariush guard. If you haven’t seen Benny fight, check out some of his matches!

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I prefer the Gi I like the grips and the options there are for control. I enjoy no Gi too just not close to as much.

     7)      Best music for training?

    I like training with something with a beat like hip hop, rap, club music, or dub step. But outside of training I usually don’t listen to any of that kind of music. I really like acoustic stuff but am pretty eclectic with my music choices. But for training definitely the styles I mentioned above.

     

    TOP PURPLE BELTS IN CANADA

    Oscar Dewindt

     

    An up and comer to keep an eye on for sure. Oscar plays a strong base, matched with swift moving De La Riva game and well locked submissions.

     

    1)      What club & affiliation do you represent?

    I train at Toronto BJJ and represent team Britto at tournaments.

     2)      What is your greatest inspiration in BJJ?

    My biggest inspiration in BJJ is the thrill of always learning something new, every day that you step on the mat you are learning evolving always thriving to be better also I love the hard work the grind it takes to get to the top and I know if I don’t go to train someone else is training harder and I want to show myself that I can be the best.

     3)      What has been your most memorable moment in BJJ?

    My most memorable moment in BJJ was the total amount of weight that i lost when i

    started i lost 80lbs and won our first annual tournament and achieving my blue belt it is special to me.

     4)      If you could meet one BJJ legend, who would it be?

    I’d definitely like to meet roger Gracie and train with him because i think he is the best ever and his mentality and the way he approaches Jiu Jitsu intrigues me.

     5)      What’s your preferred guard?

    De La Riva

     6)      Do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

    I definitely prefer the training in the GI because it is the real Jiu Jitsu as it is passed down through generations in the Gracie family.

     7)      Best music for training?

    The genre of music i like to train to is dubstep, some Skrillex, Swedish house mafia, Brazilian Rap (Orrappa, Racionais.) gets the blood flowing.

     

     

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