To call Baret Yoshida an ADCC veteran would be accurate, but a bit of an understatement. This two-time no-gi world champion has been around the block more than a few times when it comes to this prestigious tournament, and in fact, it was his performance at its second ever event back in 1999 that really helped him make a name for himself.
Now, eighteen years and three ADCC medals later (two silver, one bronze), the 42-year-old Yoshida has once again been invited back to the event that helped turn him into the legend he’s known as today.
After having competed at numerous ADCCs throughout the years, Yosida is well aware that the tournament where he’ll be grappling at the end of September is a far cry from the one he entered back in 1999. “In the beginning there were more varieties of styles,” he says. “It was more like an ‘all kinds of grappling’ competition with sambo vs BJJ vs shooto vs judo vs MMA vs wrestling. But what seems to have occurred is that ADCC became its own style, but the style was dominated by BJJ. So now essentially it’s looked at like just another big BJJ competition.”
In fact, one could make the argument that ADCC is the big jiu-jitsu competition. Its highly exclusive selection process ensures that only Trials qualifiers, former ADCC champions, and individually invited athletes will be competing. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Yoshida’s under-66 kg division is practically overflowing with talent and star power. Eddie Cummings, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, Bruno Frazatto, and Rubens “Cobrinha” Maciel are just a few of Yoshida’s potential opponents — but he’s not particularly excited or worried about going up against any of them in particular. “All the competition is tough and good. There is nobody in the division I am focused on,” he says, adding that he’s “indifferent” about who he ends up fighting.
While Yoshida probably wouldn’t be too upset with a gold medal this year, his words suggest that the experience of competing at ADCC is the true prize. “My expectation is to fight hard as always and submit my opponents,” he says. “I am excited to challenge myself to find any way possible to defeat the opponent in front of me.”
This steady, almost relaxed approach to competition is something that sets Yoshida apart from many other competitors at this year’s event, many of whom are still in their twenties, in their athletic prime, and very, very hungry for victory. “I am older now so I have a more balanced approach to me training. I am not as hardcore and [have] a more natural approach, like the animals,” he says. But don’t think that his age is keeping him away from the big leagues. He names his highlight of 2017 (so far) as competing at the Abu Dhabi Legends, and he has every intention of competing more before the year is finished.
While there’s clearly a lot that has contributed to Yoshida’s ability to remain a force in the competitive jiu-jitsu scene after all these years, he attributes most of it to “good luck.” “I am extremely fortunate and everything goes the best way for me always,” he says. He (and his opponents) will need much more than good fortune to take home the big win at ADCC next month, but just as with everything else in his life, he knows that even in a stacked division like his, balance can be found. “Everyone is good,” he says, “And anyone can be beaten.”
The 2017 ADCC World Championships will be going down in Finland on September 23 and 24. Until then, you can check out this match of Baret Yoshida taking on BJJ legend Royler Gracie back in 2000 at ADCC: