Meet The 3-Time Japanese IBJJF Black Belt World Champion Rikako Yuasa

Rikako Yuasa

Like any teenager, Rikako Yuasa joined a gym feeling she needed to lose weight, but it was there that she noticed how Brazilian jiu-jitsu was literally shaping women. She quickly fell in love with the art after joining the gym. The 17-year old became proficient in BJJ, and was noticed by Ichiro Kaneko at the Pogona Club Gym.

Yuasa soon entered the jiu-jitsu circuit, which earned her international titles in the European Open and Pan American Championship. After becoming a student of Yukinori Sasa, Yuasa earned a brown belt.

Rikako would eventually go on to earn her black belt on the 7th of June, 2014, honoring Yukinori Sasa with this highest degree of achievement.

We had the chance to sit down with Rikako and talk about her past, present, and future in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

This is what she had to say. 

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Let’s start off by learning a little about your background. Where is your home academy? How long have you been training, and who are your main instructors?

Rikako:My home acdemy is Paraestra Shinagawa. I started jiu-jitsu in 2008, so it is nine years. Together with judo and no-gi training, I’ve been training for 13 years. At that time I belonged to a different gym. 

My professor is Yukinori Sasa. He is the Japanese person to win a world championship at colored belt. Yukinori Sasa is World Bronze Medalist (2013) and World Brown Belt Champion (2005).

I moved to my current gym to learn his skills. Lasso guard is a technique taught by him.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Have you been competing a lot in the last year? Any notable wins or titles?

Rikako: I have no money. Only the IBJJF Worlds can come out every year, but last year I went to the UAEJJF prize money tournament.

Last year, I won first place in the IBJJF World Championship 2016 Black Rooster Weight competition, second place in the Abudhabi World Pro -49kg, and second place in the Grand slam Abudhabi -55kg.

Jiu-jitsu Times: How did IBJJF Worlds go for you ? How many matches did you have? How do you feel about winning the gold in your division?

Rikako: I want to be No.1. That’s it!

I can not win in the game where the prize money is given because I only want strength and Worlds title. Of course I also want money, but I want a title most.

This year, I won the first match by points, the second match by armbar, and the final by a choke. I was so happy, but I want more challenges! 

Jiu-jitsu Times: Which positions in your game worked successfully for you? What is your primary strategy in competition?

Rikako:  The reason for winning is exactly there. For example, the final match. I aimed for lasso guard sweep, but it could have failed because the opponent’s pants were short. I knew it before the game, so I was thinking about the possibility of sweep failure, defense against sweep, leg lock, and back take. 

I like to think about strategy and point games. I always try to be a step ahead of my opponent.

Jiu-jitsu Times: So what’s next in terms of competitions.

Rikako:Next is Grand slam Tokyo in July, then Asia Open and ADCC in September. I want an ADCC title. That is very difficult for me, but I always want to challenge myself and grow.

This interview has been edited slightly. 


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