• Stefan Rüegg


After a focused and tough 8x week competition preparation camp for the zurich open 2019, our competitors were finetuned, trimmed, slimmed down and in perfect competition mode.

But we paid a high price, the camp was partially too tough and too physical demanding which lead to many injuries and casualties. So from the 14 competitors who wanted to compete, there were only 10 which were able to still stay healthy until registration deadline, but to be able to compete there were only 7 left a the end.

We as the intstructors have to find the right balance between hard training but not pushing the students into overtraining and too hard sessions and risking injuries cause the students are constantly tired and exhausted.

Our students on the other side have to find their balance in going hard in the sparrings and trainings, but not doing silly moves, based on their inexperience & tireness, which lead to injuries.

But again, its up to us instructors to teach them not doing silly moves either.

Anyway, there is a lot to improve! And we will work on that!

Back to the story... 7x competitors were ready to go on the competition day - 18.05.2019 - Zurich Open was on!

Arriving at the Hall in Wädenswil, the place where the zurich open has found its home, the first impression was that it was not full with competitors as the years before.

We could recognize a general decrease of competitors for this years zurich open.

May it be because of the numerous other bjj tournaments in the month of may all over europe, or is it because the high tournament fees, high accommodation and high flight costs to arrive and stay in zurich?

Maybe all of that has an impact on the this years relative low numbers of competitors at the zurich open.

But hey not to forget, we still talking about the biggest bjj tournament in switzerland - with around 350 bjj competitors... just to not loose the perspective.


Let's dive straight into the fights..! And it couldn't start worse for Para Bellum.

Not even one minute after the zurich open started we had already a casualty, a severe shoulder injury kicked out Reto from the tournament in the very first fight of the competition. Reto trained hard for this tournament, was in good shape and with the right mindset and after a good start and some seconds of controlling the fight, everything went down the road.

While preparing a strong passing sequence his opponent caught him and was able to apply a deep de la riva sweep by controlling one of the arms of Reto. Without being able to base and stopping the fall, he landed straight on the shoulder. You could see it in his face, the pain had an immediate impact on him, Reto couldn't continue anymore and had to stop fighting cause of the shoulder injury.

We were speechless for a second, or two...! While one of the instructors took care of Reto and brought him to the hospital, the other instructor took care of the other competitors, literally all a bit shocked about the bad start we had.

Now the mental prepareness of our other competitors was demanded and set in.

What followed now was one of the best performances I've ever seen of our team!

All of our other competitors went in and won big, everybody was able to reach the podium, most of them won the gold medal!

In each division they started, Para Bellum / GFTeam Zurich was ruling!

Let me start first with ANDREAS THOMANN - we call him the "bearded samurai".

A hard working white belt student and one of the very first student of us since we started Para Bellum almost two years ago.

Besides of his deep bjj studies in the last two years, showing up 3-5 times s a week and training hard, he managed to reach a PhD at finances (doctor title)!!! Which is a red belt in the finance world :-)

He is a role model for the quote: PEOPLE WITH PASSION CAN REACH EVERYTHING!

Andreas had a very hard time during the prep camp for this tournament, several injuries kept him back during the camp, the first 4 weeks of the camp he was even not able to train caused by his injuries.

And during the rest of the camp, he had to recover but still training enough to get at least a minimum of training in.

We instructors were concerned caused by his injuries, if it is the right decision to start at the zurich open for him - but we got proved to be very wrong!


Even such a setback didn't hold Andreas back to show up at the tournament day, to fight his way in great manners until the final of his division, where he first got manhandled badly and where he got really dominated, but just to give a fuck one more time and turning the fight in the last few seconds by taking his very tough opponent down, gaining back control and winning the fight big from there!!!!!

What a great outcome, what a fucking great performance, what a great mindset, never giving up, never stopping even when all stakes are against him... just giving a fuck and winning big!!!! Para Bellum style!!!!

Congrats Bro for this amazing achievement!

AZAHEL GONZALES is writing another great story, of his own!

Azahel had severe injuries in his bjj journey in the past.

He started with jiu jitsu some years ago but suffered a multiple time broken shoulder bone after a freak accident in a sparring session at the old academy he was training back then.

For a 44 years old Man (back then) it was not easy to come back after having surgery and more than one year recovery time.

But this doesn't mean anything for a guy with a strong mindset and even stronger will like Azahel.


He came back and started training with Para Bellum / GFTeam Zurich back in Octobre 2018 - some 8 months ago.

And his comeback was big!!!!!!

The now 46 years old Azahel, had to fight always against younger competitors, sometimes even 10 years younger as him, but he won anyway in every tournament he started at least a bronze medal.

With a clear focused goal in his head, to reach blue belt level as fast as possible, he delivered more than just one reason to promote him fast!!! He was able to win medals in every major competition which we set as goals for him.

He won a bronze medal at the IBJJ Europeans 2019, a gold medal at the UAEJJF Swiss Nationals Pro 2019 and now at the IBJJF zurich Open he won again a bronze medal!

He is a great performer, following a clear goal he is training 3 times every week, focused and determined!

Congrats Azahel for your bronze medal at the Zurich Open!!!

Let's see now what happens at the belt graduation which is coming soon!

But the Para Bellum / GFTEam Zurich success story is not over yet....

It keeps going big time!

NICOLAS HATT, our president of our club, showed up with a lazer focus, fixed the podium, reaching for the medals he started to show an outstanding performance - one more time!

Nicolas was able to apply almost everything that we were working with him.

With a finetuned and tailor fitted game plan he showed up in great shape and ready to perform. A big guy like him with a razor sharp mind and a finetuned game is very dangerous for all his opponents! Nicolas is a good example for what consistency, a structured and tailor fitted bjj programm, a very strong mindset and outstanding physical preparation can leading to - He took over several gold and silver medals, in Gi and No Gi & open weight at this years IBJJF zurich open 2019!

Congrats to this awesome performance!

Another great chapter in the Para Bellum / GFTeam zurich success story is writing Samuli Leppänen!

He joined our team just recently, some 7 months ago. But from the beginning on, he showed good jiu jitsu, a great pressure passing game and overall good level at blue belt.

His last tournament where he competed - the Finish Open - was some 10 years ago, while winning it back then, it was not clear how Samuli will peform at the zurich open.


We the instructors never had doubts, and it didn't take a lot to ignite his desire to compete again.

We knew he will do good, as he showed up frequently in training, and giving all of us always a hard time in sparring.

He just had a bit ringrust to loose in his first fight, but even this first fight he dominated in great fashion!

He steamrolled his opponents through the elimination rounds until he reached the final. And as well in the final, he couldn't find the opponent to stop him, and he was winning the final in a even greater manner!

What a performance! Keep going like that Samuli!!! Congrats for this achievement after a 10 years competition break!

Good job! FUCKING GOOD JOB!!!!

Now comes LUKE RENNIE, our new lunch class coach and fitness role model!

A great guy inside and outside of the academy! If we only could understand the Australian surfer when he talks in his mother language :-)

Luke joined our Team as well some months ago, but we knew him since many years as we trained together at the same academy back in the days.

So we knew as well his potential and what he could reach with his A-game when it is finetuned and drilled.

He just couldn't train anymore the way he should and wanted at the other academy, and he couldn't invest there in his A-Game.

So the desired results at the competition during the last few years were not how expected.

But this is in the past - and since he came over and joined our team, he fast became his old great de la riva player with a sharp sweep game.


We added some takedown skills and some confidence and he started as a reborn competitor, focused and with goals in his mind! And he couldn't have a better run since then!

In all his tournaments he started in 2019 - he won medals, not just one, he won several medals, Gold and Silver is his desire!

I felt even a bit bad for his opponents, especially at the zurich open, as Luke was beating the same opponent several times during his run winning in Gi and No Gi in great fashion. Applying a tight de la riva / x-Guard game, spiked with takedowns and passing. He just was too much for his opponents and so he was winning the IBJJF Zurich Open 2019 at purple belt level!

Again, another chapter in the Para Bellum / GFTeam Zurich Success Story!!! Great achievement Bruh!!!!

But there is still one extraordinary competitor left, which is always showing up on the podium, in every tournament.

Despite his size, he is one of the biggest names at our list of competitors - a winner, a performer.

A very hard worker, coach and technician.


A guy like him is a rare breed, humble, quiet and swift!

EMIL KADAKEVLIEV, our brown belt instructor and medal chaser, showed up one more time to rule and for nothing else!

He claimed several medals, in his weight division and in open weight brown belt, he just was again too much for the rest and sometimes while coaching him, I just get lost in the dynamic of his fighting style! He takes the back of his opponent in a blink of a second! Just WOW to see how he manhandle his opponents! Even way bigger opponents were not able to score against him, only winning by advantages or ref decision in the open weight division, still Emil claimed there as well the silver medal!

With only 7x competitors we were able to place 7th in Gi and 6th in No Gi at the team ranking!

This is just the beginning brothers & sisters!

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