Local fighters show their mettle in international competition

Martial artists from Hastings have returned home with a haul of medals after taking on some of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters in the world writes Rob Griffin.

Talented members of Gracie Barra Hastings travelled as far as the United States and Albania in search of glory on the competition circuit.

And their incredible efforts have resulted in international and regional titles being brought back to the Earl Street-based academy.

Paul Bridges, head instructor at GB Hastings, said it had been a remarkable few months and paid tribute to the hard work and devotion of his students.

“I am very proud of everyone that took part in events – and those who came to cheer them on,” he said. “We are one big family and help each other achieve success.”

Albanian Open and World Championship

One of the most impressive performances came from 12-year-old Kiri Dauti, who won the Albanian Open – and then went on to be crowned World Champion!

The youngster and his ten-year-old brother, Soni, travelled to Saranda, a coastal resort in the south of Albania to take part in their first tournament.

World Champion at 12, that’s Kiri Dauti.

They both used Americana arm locks to make their opponents submit in one of their fights before winning the other on points to take the titles in their respective divisions.

Kiri then travelled up to Wolverhampton for the inaugural Elite BJJ World Junior Gi and No-Gi Championships – and came away with gold once again!

He beat rival Zahir Chaudhery of ICON BJJ by points in the male yellow teen 1 over 63kg to claim top spot on the podium.

There was also an impressive display from ten-year-old Neo Bridges, son of GB Hastings instructors Paul and Ali, who came away with a silver medal from the same competition.

The youngster fought courageously against a multiple time world champion in the orange and white belt under 41kg category.

Brighton Summer Open

Young Neo also collected silver in the same category at the Brighton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Summer Open – again only being beaten by a multiple time world champion!

The Brighton event was particularly successful for GB Hastings, which picked up gold, silver and bronze medals against fighters from across the country.

One of the early successes was ten-year-old Bailey Boardman, who won both his fights by rear naked choke to claim gold in his first tournament.

Bailey Boardman and dad James made it cause for family celebration at the Brighton Summer Open

His proud dad James, who runs Bodyshock Fitness, then added to the family’s haul by collecting silver in the adult white belt middleweight division.

After winning his first fight on points, the ex-Royal Marine succumbed to a rear naked choke with just seven seconds remaining on the clock.

Six-year-old Kian Straughan also made it to the top step of the podium after an epic battle with team-mate William Sharples in the grey and white belt 20kg category.

The two friends put on a terrific display in their Gi bout, with both proving that they’ll undoubtedly be stars of the future.

Meanwhile, Logan Woodhurst collected the bronze medal in the grey and white belt 30kg division after an injury forced him to withdraw from the competition.

In the adult divisions, Dan Young took gold in the super heavyweight division. After swiftly reversing his opponent’s takedown, he controlled the bout to win on points.

Although it was a less successful day than usual for John Rose, he still walked away with a bronze medal in the advanced ultra-heavy master No-Gi category.

Dan Young winner at Brighton Open
Dan Young celebrates with his gold medal from the super heavyweight division.

The 58-year-old warrior lost his first fight on points but won the second with his trademark ‘Rose-cutter’ choke to claim a spot on the podium.

World Master Championship in the United States

However, Rose then travelled to the United States for the World Master IBJJF Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

The three-day event, which is for those aged at least 30, sees fighters battling it out in categories based on their age, belt colour and weight.

After winning the Purple belt, Master 6, ultra-heavy category by default as no-one else had entered, he took on the challenge of the open weight division.

Unfortunately, he lost on points to a tough Russian fighter who had just won gold in the middleweight division, so ended up sharing the bronze medal position.

BJJ has established itself as one of the world’s most effective and fastest-growing martial arts through its combination of throws, joint locks and ground-fighting techniques.

John Rose one
John Rose with his medal from the World Master Championship

It came to global prominence when Royce Gracie used the techniques to win the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) back in 1993.

GB Hastings, which is affiliated to the international Gracie Barra organisation, is focused on both self defence and competition training.

The academy caters for all ages – from three-years-old to adults – and recently launched classes specifically designed for the over-50s.

Bridges, a third-degree black belt in BJJ, teaches alongside his wife, Ali Bayley, and James Creaser, who are both BJJ black belts.

If you are interested in giving it a go, then ring Bridges on: 07967 659867 or visit www.graciebarrahastings.com.

GB Hastings squad at World Championship
Neo Bridges, with dad Paul shows off his silver medal surrounded by other members of the Gracie Barra Hastings team.

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