Watertown high school student Thiago Castro won first place for teenage blue belts at the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship in California last weekend, beating dozens of competitors at his level.
“I have been training really hard and trying to stay 100 percent focused for this tournament and to come out on top feels really unbelievable,” Castro said. “I felt like I did everything I could do to make sure I was ready and I just trusted my training and everything fell into place.”
Castro, 16, moved to Watertown in 2009 from Brazil. He took up training at Kimura Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Watertown, practicing six days per week. He was promoted in 18 months from white belt to blue belt, while the typical time between ranks is two or three years, according to Kimura student David Uva.
“To get his blue belt in that time frame is a big accomplishment itself,” Uva said.
Winning the competition at Castro’s young age and with limited training is especially respectable, Uva said.
“This is the biggest championship in the world. Hundreds of people come in from all over the world and it’s very prestigious,” Uva said. “For someone to win any one of those tournaments in their lifetime is such a big accomplishment and rare, but winning as a teenager after training for 18 months is unheard of.”
Kimura head instructor Jean Kleber said he was proud of Castro and another Kimura student from Revere, Claire Koen, for placing third in her division for Women’s White Belt.
“Our students never stop amazing me and they continue to raise the bar for our school,” Kleber said. “I am so proud of Thiago and Claire for what they have achieved this weekend and earlier this year at the Pan-Am Championship. The hard work and dedication they each bring to their training every week has been justly rewarded.”