Soldiers, civilians compete in European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship
Lt. Col. Adam Boyd (left) practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Master Sgt. Bill Magruder at the Tony Bass Fitness Center in Wiesbaden, Germany.

WIESBADEN, Germany - Anyone familiar with the Portuguese language and Brazilian jiu-jitsu would know why coach Vincent Carlucci chose the name for his team.

He calls it "Team-Choco," and it couldn't be any more appropriate.

In Portuguese, "choco" means 10-armed giant squid, and after a few minutes of watching Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it is obvious why team members would want to emulate the fast, powerful and slippery cephalopods.

The sport, which has a lot in common with wrestling, requires participants to gain leverage over their opponents and bring them into submission on a mat. Having 10 arms, including two long tentacles with club-like ends, surely wouldn't hurt. The team's logo includes a picture of a giant, yellow-eyed squid.

The idea of the sport is that through proper leverage techniques, even people who are smaller and weaker can successfully defend themselves against opponents who are larger and stronger, Carlucci said.

Last week, members of Team-Choco traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to take part in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation's European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Jan. 26-29.

The competition is one of three qualifiers for the world championship, Carlucci explained.

"The reality is they're competing at the world-class athlete level," he said.

Sgt. David Shelley, a Team-Choco member who traveled to Portugal for the event, said this was his second time competing in the championship.

The atmosphere at the event is amazing, Shelley said, with a big stage that includes eight mats with matches going all the time.

The stadium is full of people, most of them fellow fighters, who know a lot about the sport and make a lot of noise during the matches, Shelley said.

"There's a lot of great energy," he said.

It's also great to meet fellow fighters from all over the world, Shelley said.

In his division, the adult, middleweight, blue-belt division, there were 85 fighters.

Since the champion is determined through a single-elimination process, Shelley said he expected to take part in six or seven matches. He hoped to place in the top three.

Carlucci, a federal employee in Wiesbaden, said he started the team in August 2009 as a part of the nonprofit Wiesbaden Martial Arts Club. Most of the members are Soldiers, and they usually practice two nights a week at the Tony Bass Fitness Center.

Eight competitors from Wiesbaden went to the championship in Portugal, as well as one from Schweinfurt and one from Stuttgart, Carlucci said.

Shelley said he has been a member of the club since its inception, and it has helped him stay in shape. Not only that, he enjoys it.

"When you get into it, it's addictive," he said. "It's really fun."

Learn more about Team-Choco at

Page last updated Thu February 2nd, 2012 at 08:12