WBJJA: What is your opinion about the initiative of organizing a BJJ Europen only championship? Did you see this coming, were you expecting this kind of event to take place at a certain point?
A.Y.: I didn’t see it coming but I think it is a good idea. Everything that promotes BJJ is good. In a competition of this kind, the different countries in Europe can measure up their level. Such an event can create competitive rivalry which leads in the long term to the countries to increase the quality and quantity of their BJJ schools.
WBJJA: How long have you been reffereeing, and what are the main promotions/ competitions you took part as an official?
A.Y.: I started to referee when I was bluebelt back in 2010. Back at the time, there were very few people knowing the rules and even less people able to apply them. I started in very small town competitions. I started it more seriously in 2013 after attending some IBJJF rules courses. I was refereeing for the IBJJF 2 years almost all the events in Europe (except the European IBJJF where I compete). In the last 3 years I refereed nearly all NAGA Events (North of America Grappling Association) and some UAJJF events
WBJJA: Are you also involved in the BJJ competitions differently than as a refree? Do you compete/ coach? If so, would you encourage your team to join this first European only tournament?
A.Y.: Yes! I am a very active competitor. I love to compete. I think competition is a important part of a BJJ fighter. I have my own school in Germany, so I am a coach too. Either refereeing, competing or coaching. I spend my life traveling from competition to competition. I definitely encourage my team to take part in this first European only tournament.
WBJJA: What is the biggest challange you encounter as a refferee, and what is that motivates you in performing this?
A.Y.:I was the head referee at the last FUJI Europe BJJ Challenge (Purple belt edition). This event invites only the best purple belt athletes in Europe and was streamed live. The winner gets some cash too. So to be there, refereeing such high level athletes, with all the lights and cameras filming every detail of the fight and your actions and live streaming it, it was a lot of pressure. I could not afford any mistake. But challenges makes one better, don’t they? It was hard but I also enjoyed it a lot.
WBJJA: Thank you for your passion and help us to make this event.
A.Y.: Thanks for inviting me!