Growing from a solid base

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters from across the South Island will get to grips with each other at a major tournament in Queenstown today.

More than 150 martial artists have signed up to compete in the King of the South tournament, organised by Queenstown club Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu New Zealand.

They’ll hit the mats at Queenstown Events Centre from about 9am, with youngsters competing in the morning, and adults from noon. The popular martial art is focused on grappling and submissions, through joint-locks and chokes.

Queenstown club founder and coach Jose Gomes says: “The clubs are growing and people want to compete but it’s expensive to go overseas or to Auckland.

“And we’re at a disadvantage when we do, because we don’t compete as consistently. So it’s great to be able to offer that opportunity in South Island.”

Gomes has run in-house tournaments but this is the first event outside of the dojo.

“It’s way bigger than I expected. I’m already looking to do it again next year.”

There’ll be both gi (martial arts clothing) and no-gi bouts, with everyone from beginners to advanced competitors.

“Competing is not a must but definitely helps with progress because it shows you what you need to work on and what you’re doing well.”

The tournament comes just a few weeks after a memorable weekend for the club, which now has 140 members.

Brent Te Kawa became SJJIF world champion, while Gomes himself placed second in gi and third in no-gi in his weight division at the IBJJF Pan Pacific championships.

SJJIF world champion: Brent Te Kawa

Tiago Santa Ritta won three bronzes at the Pan-Pacs, while Queenstown Judo Club’s Jordan-Katie Doherty placed third at the Judo NZ nationals.

Celebrating the Pan-Pacs: Jose Gomes, right, with Tiago Santa Ritta

Spectators can watch for free.

– PAUL TAYLOR