Interview with Janni Larsson: Sweden’s first black belt World Champion!

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Janni Larsson recently made history by becoming the first Swedish grappler to win the gold at the IBJJF World Championship in the black belt division! Janni was also a gold medallist at purple and brown belt in the previous years. Janni trains at Arte Suave In Copenhagen (Denmark) under Shimon Mochizuki. In this interview to GrapplingBloggen (Translated from Swedish), Janni takes us through her fights during the competition and what she is planning for the future. Congratulation to Janni for taking the gold medal in the black belt division back to Scandinavia!

Congratulations on the gold Janni . How does it feel to be the first Swedish taking a gold medal in the black belt class at the World Cup?
It feels incredible! When I went up on the carpet to walk my final match , I could not stop smiling. Two years ago I was at the World Cup for the first time and competed in the purple belt class. It was so big and powerful to see the whole pyramid filled with people who cheered when black belts drove their finals. It seems inconceivable to have been standing there before all the audience and himself to get to be in a final. The feeling when I won the game and all my friends and the whole Checkmat bleachers cheered is indescribable.

How has the preparation been for the World Cup ?
I’ve been training BJJ between 4-6 days a week the past 2 months, with the exception of those weeks I was away and competed. I have not trained nearly as much as I should have done because I have been focusing on school this semester. I suspect that last year, when I trained full time, still benefited me. If I plan to continue performing at competitions, I will be forced to raise the number of training hours for the next big competition. There is a Checkmat camp in the United States before the World Cup, but I decided to stay as long as possible and work out at my club Arte Suave in Copenhagen. The level of Arte Suave is so high that I feel that I can prepare myself well there.

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Can you talk about the matches leading up to the gold?
I was is an arm lock in the quarterfinals against Bea Mesquita in the open weight class, and waited too long before I tapped. This resulted in that I have found it difficult to use my arm when I then competed in the weight class. Matches were therefore not so entertaining to watch. My first fight in the weight class, I won on Feet Lock, a minute into the game. Match number two, I won 6-0 after three sweeps from x -guard; after each sweep she stood up again and I was able to pull guard and sweep again. In the final match against Vanessa Oliveira, I was afraid that my elbow would not hold if I got caught in her spider guard. I therefore chose to go play guard and try to sweep. I kept the advantage, and then the plan was just to keep her off balance. (See video below for the final match)

What are your plans going forward?
Right now I’m at the airport waiting for my flight home to Denmark. The first priority when I come home is to get an x-ray of the elbow so I know that everything is okay. Then it gets exam plug and physiotherapy exercises for the arm. I hope it is good enough so I can compete at Swedish National in about a month.

Here is Janni finals against Vanessa Oliveira: