Couple’s gold grab

Family first: Brent and Paula Te Kawa

Queenstown couple Brent and Paula Te Kawa tied the knot 20 years ago – and now spend their free time tying other people in knots.

For the married couple have recently both become Brazilian jiu-jitsu champions.

Brent, 46, won the Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation purple-belt heavyweight world championship in Los Angeles, USA, last month.

Paula, 45, took blue-belt light featherweight silver at that event – to add to her gold at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s Pan Pacific championships in Melbourne, in October.

Brent, who fights at 93.5kg, says: “We both love it.

“I started training about six years ago and Paula’s been doing it two years – I was always out training so she decided to get involved.

“We’ve been travelling all year to compete – Tokyo twice, America, Australia, New Zealand – about 10 tournaments in all.”

Paula also took silver at the LA tournament, fighting in the 53.5kg blue-belt category but losing out to the sixth-ranked woman in the world.

Both competed in the ‘Gi’ category.

“It was tough competition,” Brent, who won his gold with choke-hold submissions, says.

He also took silver at the IBJJF world championships in San Francisco (no gi), losing in the final.

The Te Kawas train under Jose Gomes and Queenstown’s Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu New Zealand.

“They’re very dedicated,” Gomes says, “in the gym all the time, sometimes twice a day.

“They even bring their daughter – the whole family is really into it.”

The Te Kawa family firm, South Pacific Fire Protection Ltd, was the 13th fastest-growing company in New Zealand last year.

“Jiu Jitsu helped with that; it’s just a mindset thing,” Brent says.

“It teaches you to roll with the punches.

“Nothing stresses us out with business – because there’s nothing that can be worse than a massive fat guy sitting on top of you with jiu-jitsu.”