Ilke Bulut is one of Europe’s most competitive brown belts, fighting as a lightweight in the -76kg bracket. A resident of Geneva, Switzerland and representing the Icon Jiu Jitsu team, Ilke talked to us about his journey into BJJ.
Hi Ilke, thanks for talking to us! Tell us where you train and how you started in jiu jitsu?
Thanks for getting in touch with me! I’m training in Geneva at the Shinbudo martial arts academy, my teacher is Anderson Pereira, a member of Icon Jiu Jitsu Team. I started training at the age of 15 with my older brother and friends. I got hooked on competition since practicing judo and I was familiar with going on the mats. Today I’m 24 and hold a brown belt.
What’s the jiu jitsu scene currently like in Switzerland?
BJJ has a really good level in Europe; some clubs are very involved in the scene. My teacher and his friends created the BJJSC, an organization providing most of the events and competitions in Switzerland.
My team has many fighters and athletes holding major titles such as European and World gold medals.
We also have a top MMA team, the level is getting better each year and we hope to see a Swiss IBJJF event one day!
How did you find the level of competition at the Rome Open?
As usual the level at IBJJF events is very high, especially in my category – it’s no joke. There weren’t so many fighters, but I knew them all and fought against many of them before. Unfortunately I lost against Ross Nicholls, whom I beat during the European final earlier this year. But, this time he defeated me in both gi and nogi – the fights were very tight. You can be champion one day and bring two bronze medals the next time, that’s jiu jitsu.
What are your biggest achievements in jiu jitsu?
I’m twice European champion and several times I’ve come third at the same event. I place myself on the podium often, two time silver medallist at the European nogi, five time Swiss champion and winner of the Abu Dhabi open trial. I am a Naga expert champion and have many other international titles (Brazil, Europe and USA).
You have trained and fought all over the world, so who would you say are the toughest guys in your division at the moment?
Now as a brown belt is a tough job, especially in my category (-76kg). There are a lot of good guys out there. But, I’d say that Victor Silver, Victor Genovesi and Rafael Henrique Pereira are tough. Some other guys have switched category or just got their black belt as well.
Do you people approach training differently in Europe and the USA?
I’ve trained in various countries such as the USA and Brazil and the level is very different because most of the fighters compete for survival – so it’s a different approach. I try to train at the same pace even if it’s not easy, because it’s only a few people doing this for a living. But Anderson is pushing me hard and I still have some great partners to train with twice or three times a day.
Who are your jiu jitsu idols?
The Mendes brothers are very inspiring to me because I’ve trained with them and learned from them, also a shout out to the Miyao brothers. And high five to Rodolfo Vieira’s guard passing!
Who would you say is the toughest fighter in Europe right now?
I think I have a pretty decent level, which is constantly rising and Ross Nicholls will always be a tough opponent. At the black belt level, the Olivier brothers from Gokudo are outstanding. Oliver Geddes is on a roll and my friend Luca Anacoretta just got his black; he will surprise a lot of peeps.
What are your short and long term goals?
I’m giving seminars in my country, Turkey and Europe during this summer and then I’ll train hard again, I’m going to go for the Pan Am nogi and the Asia open in Tokyo – and of course get myself ready by doing more competitions. My main aim is always Abu Dhabi Pro and the Mundial again!
I hope to open my own academy one day but that is far away in the future.
What’s it like to be part of the Icon team and train under Ze Marcello?
Icon is a rising team in Europe founded in 2010 that has a lot of great athletes. Ze Marcello is Anderson’s professor and I’ve known him since I got the blue belt. I see him regularly at seminars or competitions. He’s actually in Portugal developing a new icon academy.