To the victors go the spoils

Fighters from Gracie Barra Hastings returned from the Brighton Open Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament with an incredible haul of 15 medals writes Rob Griffin.

The team picked up two golds, eight silvers and five bronze medals from the annual event, which featured both gi and nogi divisions.

Photographers Noah Moralis, Caivan Namvar and John Rose caught all the action on the day.

Kial Wilkins has his arm raised in victory over a black belt.

However, the stand-out performance of the day came from teenager Kial Wilkins – and it didn’t even result in a podium place! The 19-year-old purple belt defeated a much more experienced black belt in the gi absolute open weight division via referee’s decision – much to his opponent’s dismay!

Despite narrowly losing his next two fights in that event – he did pick up a silver medal in the gi purple belt feather weight division.

Ben Campbell took gold in the nogi blue belt Master 1 middleweight division after four victories – two by submission and two by points.

He won his first match by rear naked choke, his second by kimura (armlock), and the third by rear naked choke again. He then won the final on points.

Not content with one medal, he then entered the gi division for his class – but lost his first match on points to place fifth overall.

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Adem Vladi wins gold.

Also on the top step of the podium was Adem Vladi, who was making his competitive debut in the nogi white belt Master 2 medium heavy division – despite weighing a lot less than other competitors.

After winning his first fight on points, he took the gold medal by submitting team mate James Boardman in the final.

Dan Young’s first outing was in the nogi absolute open weight, white and blue belt category. He won his first match by north/south kimura, but lost his second fight to the eventual winner.

In his own nogi blue belt Master 2 superheavyweight category, he won the semi-final on points with a beautiful sweep just on the buzzer! Although he lost the final, he took home the silver medal.

Joe Willett took silver in the nogi blue belt adult middle weight division – his first ever nogi outing. After winning the semi-final on points, he lost out on the final with under a minute to go.

Joe Willett (left) on the podium.

Making his debut in BBJ competitions was Pete Catt, who was in the gi white belt master 1 featherweight division. He won his first fight on points – after mounting a fantastic comeback.

His opponent had him in a tight collar choke but he managed to pass his guard, secure side control and then move into the mount position.

In his second fight, he managed to escape a couple of chokes before falling victim to an arm bar – but was thrilled to get a silver medal in his first event.

John Rose had two fights in the gi absolute open weight purple to black belt class – losing on points to a black belt and then being submitted by arm lock by a purple belt.

In the gi, purple masters 2 ultra-heavy category, he lost on points and ended up with the silver medal.

Among the juniors, Neo Bridges took silver in the gi boys  teen 1 (13 years) orange belt category, while Maddy Frear did the same in the gi girls Gi teen 1 (13 years) yellow belt division.

Samuli Antonen won his first nogi fight in the absolute open weight division for white and blue belts by rear naked choke and his second on points – but lost his third and was awarded the bronze.

In his own nogi blue belt lightweight class, he won his first contest with a triangle, lost the second through a wrist lock – and then missed out on the bronze after getting caught in a foot lock.

Antonen then went on to the gi blue belt lightweight division, where he won his first fight after a remarkable comeback. Despite being 6-0 down, he clawed it back to 6-6 – and was awarded the decision by the ref due to activity.

Unfortunately, he lost his second fight on points to go out of the competition.

It was the first event as a blue belt for Craig Namvar – and he secured a bronze medal.

After being eliminated from the nogi absolute open weight, white and blue belt category, by arm bar, he dropped down two age categories in the master 1 division.

He his first fight with a straight foot lock, lost his second to rear naked choke, but then won the third with another foot lock to claim third place.

Arron Ayres – making his competitive debut – was beaten on points in the semi-final by the eventual winner of the gi white belt master 1 heavyweight division – but went home with the bronze medal.

Aaron Pashley then added to the medal haul with a bronze in the Nogi purple belt master 1 middle weight division.

Another fighter going home with a well-earned bronze medal was Mark Rawlings, who competed in the nogi white belt, middleweight division. He won two fights on points and lost one by submission, to claim his place on the podium.

Also fighting on the day was Abdul Alsmadi. Unfortunately, he narrowly lost his first nogi match by two points in the adult heavyweight category – and then lost his first gi contest – this time in the adult medium heavy category – on points.

Aaron Filmer placed fourth in the adult nogi purple belt medium heavyweight category, after losing the fight-off for the bronze medal on points.

He also fought in the nogi absolute open weight, purple to black belt competition, but went out to the eventual semi-finalist.

Sina Torab put on a sterling display in the male nogi adult lightweight division but ended up out of luck – getting knocked out of the competition on points by the eventual winner.

Chris Young also put it on the line for his first competition in the gi blue belt master 1 middleweight category. Unfortunately, he lost on points – with his rival ending up in the final.

Andy Huckle fought valiantly in both the nogi absolute open weigh – white and blue division, and the nogi white belt middleweight class – even though he was put up a weight bracket so was a lot lighter than his rivals.

Unfortunately, he didn’t progress due to being caught in a triangle in the absolute division – and an arm triangle in the middleweight category.

William Sharples and Jayden Allen both competed well in the pee wee 111 (nine years) grey belt category. William got through to the quarterfinals, while Jayden unfortunately lost his fight on points.

James Wood was in the teen 1 (13 years) grey belt category. Despite competing well he was submitted in the fight for the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Alexia Scales was unlucky in the gi girls Pee Wee 111 (nine years) grey belt division, losing her fight for the bronze medal on the referee’s decision.

Paul Bridges, head instructor at GB Hastings, said he was delighted to see so many members fighting, coaching and supporting their team-mates.

“We are a close-knit family and it was fantastic to see everyone helping each other on the day,” he said. “I’m hugely proud of everyone involved.”

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 – the youngest is three-years-old and the oldest is 77-years-old – at their permanent base in Earl Street, Hastings.

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

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Some of the team and coaches with the medals.
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Some of the team before the action started.

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