The Brazilian, 32, is on sabbatical this year after being crowned world No 1 in 2016 and has not participated in any tournaments this season
Jose Junior not ruling out competing at Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2018
After reaching the pinnacle in jiu-jitsu, reigning world No 1 Jose Junior says he is enjoying a sabbatical from competition to devote time to his day job and catch up on lost time with family.
The Brazilian, 32, has not participated in any tournaments this season and is still contemplating his defence of the 110-kilogramme title at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship next March.
The dedication that went in to climbing the jiu-jitsu summit was arduous and time consuming. Junior had to divide his time between his day job as a jiu-jitsu instructor and his own training, which meant 5.30am cardiovascular workouts, work from 8am to 5pm before heading back at the gym to continue with his training until 11pm.
“I wanted to take a break and come back next season, hopefully,” he said. “My work commitment and to spend quality time with my family was too much to handle. I can’t keep up with the same pace as last season where I had to work around 15 hours a day almost every day.”
Junior was one of the first batch of jiu-jitsu instructors to be employed by Palms Sports, the technical arm of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, when he arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2009.
At that time he never thought of competing again. But after taking part in local competitions against some of the best black belts from Brazil he revived his fighting career again, winning a silver medal at the Abu Dhabi World Pro in 2011 and again in 2015.
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“I’m not done with competitions, yet,” Junior said of his sabbatical. “I spend two to three days training but that’s just to keep myself in good shape. I’m still thinking if I would compete at the Abu Dhabi World Pro. There is still time if I want to, and I’ll decide in the next month or two.”
Junior reached the zenith last year when he was crowned world No 1 thanks largely to the support of his wife, Roberta Ferreira, who is also a jiu-jitsu instructor, something he is quick to acknowledge.
“I started prepare for it [reaching world No 1] from the very next day I was runner-up in the 2015 Abu Dhabi World Pro,” said the four-time Brazilian and two time Pan American champion.
“I was very fortunate as I had the support of my wife who was sometimes the mother and father for my kids when I had to shuttle between work and my own training.
“If I didn’t have that kind of support at home, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have achieved. It was a massive commitment and I couldn’t do that again this season.”
In Junior’s absence, Adam Wardzinski heads the world ranking on 640 points. The Pole, fifth last year, holds a 160-point lead over Moldovan Eldar Rafigaev, and Brazilians Igor Silva (360) and Jorge Nakamura (320).
In the women’s ranking, the defending champion Nathiely Melo Del Jesus of Brazil is tied at the top with compatriots Larissa Paes and Mayssa Bastos on 400.