From:graciemag.com

by Carlos Eduardo Ozório


Abi against Tarsis at Brazilian Nationals 2009. Photo: Gustavo Aragão

Following his getting sidelined from competition by knee surgery, Brazilian Nationals and Rio Open 2009 champion Raphael Abi-Rihan is back in the mix. The black belt will make his competition return at Taça Rio 2010 next Sunday at Rio de Janeiro’s municipal club.

“My recovery went slowly due to my having to work all day. I couldn’t dedicate myself the way I should have, but I’m already managing to train well. However, I should compete at master this time. I want to compete at weight and open weight, and the master division would be perfect for that. Although the athletes are at the same technical level as the ones in the adult division – sometimes even having the same number of matches –, match-duration is six minutes. That will make it better for me to test myself and see what condition I’m in,” he told GRACIEMAG.com.

During his time on ice, Abi took advantage of the situation to work on his technical facets. The Carlson Gracie black belt feels he’s a new fighter.

“As with everything in life, there’s always a positive side. I could place emphasis on my academy and my students managed great results. I have a really solid base there. I trained a lot of technique and, as I was physically limited, I worked on my game a lot. I’ve been doing positions I didn’t do before and adapted my game to my knee. I’m stoked. What happened happened and I feel that, in some way, that made my Jiu-Jitsu evolve. I feel my Jiu-Jitsu is better than it was before and now it’s just a question of getting physically fit and back in rhythm, so I can deal with the top guys. There’s a really good new crop and I’m going to do what I can to reclaim my territory,” he warns.

Furthermore, Raphael is preparing another installment of the Copa America, which he organizes every year.

“I’ve already begun to advertise it. It will take place December 4, with sign-ups going till November 30. I hope to maintain the tradition of it being a competition full of athletes and there will be gift kits for all the divisions from adult white to brown belt, as always. It’s all confirmed for Clube América!” he says in closing.

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