Atos Jiu-Jitsu black belt Andy Murasaki has had an incredible run in competition as of late. In the first half of 2022, Andy had won gold at multiple open tournaments before taking silver at the Pans and Worlds. A rib injury at the Worlds forced him to take time off to heal and since his return at the Charleston Fall Open last October, Andy has gone undefeated in competition. His two most recent tournaments have been the best examples of his evolution as an athlete. In December, Andy competed in his first major no-gi tournament at the Worlds No-Gi, winning middleweight gold with four fights and two submissions. He improved his submission rate in his next tournament, the 2023 Europeans in Paris, France. Andy submitted three of his four opponents to capture his first gold medal at a major gi championship as a black belt. We caught up with Andy ahead of his next big challenge, the Tezos IBJJF FloGrappling GP, to get his thoughts on his recent streak of dominance, the Lightweight GP, 2023 goals, and much more.
Last year you tested out a new division, competing at middleweight at the Worlds and Worlds No-Gi. What motivated you to drop back down to lightweight for 2023?
“I competed at middleweight at gi and no-gi Worlds last year, but I talked to my professor and we decided to drop back down to lightweight for 2023. We did this mainly because that’s the division I should really be competing at. It is the weight division that I feel the most athletic and healthy.”
You started the year winning the Europeans and put on a tremendous display of technique. Can you talk about your run at Euros and how you felt about the performance?
“At Europeans I had four matches and three submissions. I performed well but it is in the past already. The next day I was already watching my matches and analyzing what I did well and what I could’ve done better and started working on it.”
You seemed to have a focus on getting submissions at the Europeans. Is that something you are putting more focus on this year?
“Submissions are something I’ve been focusing on for awhile already and I’m excited to show it with results this year.”
Can you talk about your opponents in the lightweight GP?
“I’ve fought against Johnatha and Elijah. The only one I haven’t fought is Carlos, but I know he’s a very tough upcoming athlete. I’m excited to see how this bracket will come out!”
You’ve had some very close matches with Johnatha Alves at black belt. Can you talk about a potential match with him?
“We’ve fought three times at black belt so far and at this event we are potentially fighting for the 4th time. I lost in a close match all those 3 times we fought, so it’s definitely a match I’m looking forward to.”
Can we expect to see you go for the Grand Slam at lightweight this year?
“First things first. I’ll compete at the GP and then Pan Ams. After that, I’ll sit down with my team and plan our next challenges. But it is definitely a possibility.”
Watch Andy compete at the Tezos IBJJF FloGrappling GP this Friday March 3rd. Go to flograppling.com to make sure you don’t miss a single match from the event.