The orginal interview in Dutch can be found here: http://www.artesuave.eu/4175-2/
The IBJJF European Championship is known as the most prestigious BJJ tournament in Europe. Although an EC medal is high on the wish list of many Dutch and Belgian BJJs, it is not easy to win one (see our analysis of last year). The dust of the most recent edition of the European Championship is now slowly settling down. Unless we missed someone, Daniël de Groot's 3rd place in purple light-feather (-64kg) this year was the 'best' achievement of the Dutch and Belgians in the adult male divisions (Amal Amjahid won double female gold at the brownbelt division). Enough reason to ask Daniel a few questions.
ArteSuave: Daniel, first of all congratulations on your medal at the European Championships in Lisbon. A very good performance. For the people you do not know, would you like to introduce yourself?
Daniel: Thank you! I am Daniël de Groot, 23 years old, I am from Rotterdam and I also teach at Erasmus BJJ five times a week. I train three times a week in Amsterdam at BJJAA and I go to the gym about 3 times a week. I also regularly travel to Santos, Brazil to train with my coaches Gabriel Rollo and Thiago Abreu.
ArteSuave: Can you tell how the day and the tournament went in Lisbon?
Daniel: The tournament actually went according to plan. I had set up a game plan in the months before the tournament and I could do it almost perfectly. My first opponent did not tap on my footlock, even though it was tight. After that he could no longer base on his foot, so I still won on referee's decision. My second opponent did tap. Then I had to play in the semi-final against Diego "Pato" Batista from Cicero Costa, who already won the World Championship a few times. I knew it would be a very tricky fight. I gave everything but the level difference was still a bit too big. I am not too happy on the podium either. But a few hours later I realized that I should be pretty proud of my achievement. Now on to the next step: closing the gap with the elite guys from Cicero Costa.
ArteSuave: What were your expectations prior to the tournament?
Daniel: I went for a medal. I knew that Jonas Andrade and Diego Pato were in my class, so I had set a realistic goal. Fortunately, I only came across them late in the bracket. Not that my other opponents were easy, they both have won a lot in Europe, but this time I was the better athlete.
ArteSuave: This is your first medal at one of the 4 big IBJJF tournaments (Europeans, Pan Ams, Brazilian Nationals, and Mundials). What are your goals in the BJJ from now on and has this medal changed anything?
Daniel: My goals are actually the same. I want to win the Nogi Europeans. I have the idea that I am still slightly better than gi, and often there are fewer Brazilian elite guys in Rome than in Lisbon. Furthermore, I almost graduated, and then I will focus fully on jiu jitsu. The next big goal after the Nogi Europeans are the Nogi Worlds, I will prepare for that in Brazil. My long-term goals are still to become the best Dutchman ever, and then build the best gym in Europe.
ArteSuave: At the end of last year you became an instant internet hype by defeating a black belt of about 2 times your own weight on the Dutch Open. Was that a bigger achievement than this EC medal?
Daniel: Haha that video is a cool one to show at parties, and it was fun to get some internet attention, but for me this European Championship medal is a bigger achievement. For years I looked up to the European guys who share the podium in Lisbon with the best in the world, and now I was there myself.
Arte Suave: Why do the Dutch and Belgians win adult men so few medals at the European Championships of the IBJJF do you think? And why did you succeed?
Daniel: I think two things play a role: they train too little and there are too few coaches who have experience at the highest level.
In the Netherlands and Belgium it is almost impossible to train jiu jitsu twice a day. Many gyms do not even have daily classes. I am lucky with Erasmus Sport that I can use the dojo as often as I want, and also with my strong training partners who have time during the day. I also have a number of great sparring partners and coaches in Amsterdam.
In terms of coaches, I am also an exception. I learn a lot in my dealings with my coaches from Brazil, Thiago Abreu and Gabriel Rollo. They have a lot of knowledge about everything that has to do with jiu jitsu. Technique, mindset, business, you name it. Because of my good relationship with those two, I think I also have a small lead over the rest.
Those two factors combined with hard work ensured that I reached the podium. I sincerely believe that no one in the Netherlands trains as much and as hard as I do.
Arte Suave: What do you want to tell the readers?
Daniel: Thanks for the interview! I hope that the readers found it interesting. Furthermore, I would like to do a shout-out to my sponsor, Fuji Europe. They make very nice stuff and my weightcut was a lot easy with the Suparaito gi that barely weighs 1.3kg. You can stay informed of my adventures via my instagram @danieldegr, and if someone wants to train with me you can find me daily on the mats at BJJAA and Erasmus BJJ.
Banner picture by: Ribeiro Photos (Ivor Ribeiro Da Silva) www.ribeirophoto.com