In three days of competition at the European Open Championships in Portugal, Third Law brought home four medals for Team Lloyd Irvin and Team USA: Master Roberto won bronze at brown middle heavy as well as bronze in the brown belt absolute, and Katy Torralbas won silver at blue pena.
Meanwhile, in the Blue Belt Heavyweight Teams Match, which pits teams of 5 competitors from different countries against each other, Joey Ruggiero and four other Americans took the Gold for Team USA. Team USA was stacked with four Lloyd Irvin competitors, with blue belts from Crazy 88, Third Law and Paramont BJJ representing the USA.
This was the first time traveling to the European Open for Coach Joseph Formica, Katy Torralbas and Joey Ruggiero, and the first time Third Law sent multiple competitors to the first of the four annual Grand Slam tournaments: Europeans, Pan Ams, Brasileros and the Worlds.
The blue belts left on Tuesday morning, flying from Fort Myers to Toronto, and then on to London and finally Lisbon.
A passenger almost had a heart attack on the plane and so there was an an unplanned stop in Montreal, but Katy, Joey and Joe finally arrived in Lisbon on Wednesday afternoon.
They got their bearings, found the venue – Complexo Municipal Esportivo do Castal Vistoso – and settled in to get a good night’s sleep.
Bright and early Thursday morning, the blue belt guys were up. Joey Ruggiero won three matches in his division at Blue Medio, winning his first by bow and arrow choke after racking up points and his second by 6-0 with an over-the-top sweep to mount. In his third match he and his opponent went sweep for sweep for 2-2, but Joey scored an advantage for a triangle attempt and took the win. He lost his fourth match 6-4 in another sweep for sweep battle. Coach Formica also fought hard in his division at Blue Leve, but his bid for European Champ was stopped as well.
The next day, Katy Torralbas was up first in her division at Blue Pena.
She won her first two matches by kimura from the closed guard and her third by referee decision.
She lost in the finals by referee decision, taking home the Silver in her weight class and earning a chance to fight later in the absolute.
In the absolute, Katy defeated her first opponent 4-0 with a back take from De La Riva, and then lost her second match on points.
Master Roberto Torralbas arrived in Lisbon on Thursday, and on Friday fought in his second European Open Championships at Brown Belt.
He won his first match by racking up pass and mount points, ending it 13-0 with 2 advantages. In his second match, he lost 2-0, taking home the bronze and earning a spot in the Brown Belt Absolute.
Later that day, Master Roberto won his two matches in the Brown belt absolute on points, and lost his third by 2 advantages. He shared the 3rd place podium with fellow Lloyd Irvin teammate Willie Leonard, who also won two matches in the Brown Belt Absolute.
Many other Lloyd Irvin competitors brought home medals, including: Camp Springs black belt JT Torres, silver in the lightweight division; purple belt Keenan Cornelius, double gold (his division and the open); brown belt Nyjah Easton, gold in her division and bronze in the open; Sijara Eubanks, silver in her division and silver in the absolute; purple belt Kenneth Brown from Evolve Academy, bronze in his division and silver in the absolute and Cathy Tran-Zwanetz from Crazy 88, won gold at blue pluma.
Overall, the Lloyd Irvin women placed second with just four female competitors winning 6 medals, earning 28 total points for Team Lloyd Irvin.
Then, in the early evening on Saturday, Four Lloyd Ivrin blue belts including Joey Ruggiero had a chance to represent Team USA in the Blue Belt Heavyweight team contest.
Pitted against other countries, five American blue belts fought four rounds of fights and took gold in the Team Event. The Lloyd Irvin representatives included: Joey Ruggiero from Third Law, Al Washington and Devon Delbrugge from Crazy 88, and Eric Desmaris from Paramont BJJ. They were joined by a grappler from Rafael Lovato’s school named Dallas.
The guys killed it in the Team fights, and Joey Ruggiero represented Third Law well, winning his first match on points, his second by triangle, his third by triangle and fourth 19-0.
On Sunday morning, Joey, Joe and Katy headed home, while Master Roberto went back to the venue with Master Julius to watch the black belt matches.
All in all, it was an amazing experience to travel to Europe and represent Team Lloyd Irvin at one of the biggest, most competitive BJJ events in the world. Now the Third Law competitors are headed home to Naples, and excited to train for the next International tournament!