Local fighters show ‘skill and determination’ at UK nationals

Ten martial artists from Hastings competed in the inaugural Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu UK National Championships writes Rob Griffin – and they all made the podium!

The talented GB Hastings team scooped two gold, five silver and three bronze medals at the event in Wolverhampton.

Paul Bridges, the academy’s head instructor, said he was hugely proud of all competitors and supporters that made the journey: “It takes a lot of courage to step on the mat at such a big national event,” he said, “I was very impressed how everyone fought with skill and determination.”

Abdul Alsmadi put on a terrific performance in the white belt under 86kg division, winning his first match on points and his second via a rear naked choke submission. Unfortunately, he lost his third match but still took home the silver medal.

The GB Hastings competitors with their medals from the inaugural Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu UK National Championships in Wolverhampton.

Blue belt Joe Willett also won a silver medal in his category, having fought a great match and being unlucky to lose on points.

Purple belt Kial Wilkins, taking part in his first competition, fought two tough opponents – both of which were two weight categories above his own – to claim the bronze medal.

Among the juniors, Joe Zillwood and James Woods both struck gold in their respective weight categories in the grey and white belt division.

Keira Pocock also won silver in her weight category in the grey and white belts after an amazing fight against a bigger – and very technical – opponent.

Grey belt brothers Leon and Taylor Ayres also competed for the first time and took home the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Neo Bridges, son of GB Hastings instructors, Paul and Ali, faced two higher ranked opponents. Despite fighting technically well, he lost on points to take the bronze medal.

Finally, white belt Bailey Boardman impressed again by taking home the silver medal – just a couple of months after claiming gold at the Brighton Summer Open.

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.

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