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By Tom Bell

The chairman of the UK Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association, Dickie Martin, has spoken in reaction to the success of the UKBJJA’s sponsored team at the European Open Championships in Lisbon last week.

The UKBJJA sponsored one athlete in every adult male belt level, sending them to Portugal to fight in the largest European Open to date, with over 3,400 athletes registering over five days.

Lucio ‘Lagarto’ Rodrigues managed to take home a gold medal, representing the team at black belt, and Ash Amos made the podium, taking silver at white belt.

The Chairman of the association spoke exclusively with Jiu Jitsu Style, revealing his thoughts on what the future of the UKBJJA could hold, drawing inspiration from the juvenile teams of the United Arab Emirates and Finland.

“It’s very positive that we had two medals with Lagarto picking up a gold in the black belt division and Ash Amos, a silver in the white belt division,” says Martin. “Results also went well in the other divisions with, Janis Riekstins and Sam Gibson both getting to the quarter finals and both losing on very tight decisions. River Dillon, who replaced Lee Renaut went out in the first round unfortunately, but again by referee’s decision.

“So all very, very tight decisions and I think all of them made UK Jiu Jitsu proud. The level of the tournament gets higher and higher every year, so overall the results were good and give us a platform to build on for the future.”

Attending the tournament as a representative of the UKBJJA and to coach his own students, Martin found himself to be particularly impressed with some of the jiu jitsu displayed by juvenile competitors, with the Finnish BJJ Federation and the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation having large numbers of youngsters competing.

Recently steps have been made towards investing in adult ‘competitors of tomorrow’, with the UK due to hold its first ever Junior Championship in Birmingham this March.

“There were a couple of very prominent countries represented there in the younger divisions. I was extremely impressed with the levels of the juveniles from the United Arab Emirates and from Finland. There were big, impressive teams of ten or fifteen juveniles with each of those and that gives us something to aspire to I think and that’s the direction we want to be heading.”

As it stands, the United Arab Emirates has heavily invested into jiu jitsu, with over 40 public schools offering it on their curriculum and the country hosting one of the most prestigious annual competitions in the ADCC.

“Seeing both of those countries displaying very impressive juvenile teams is what I personally see as the future of the UKBJJA, as I think we should be pushing the younger talent to do the best they can in hope of eventually getting black belt future champions at a European level and the World stage as well.

“But I should stress it would not be my decision, it would be a group decision and it is not the only thing the association would like to do. It isn’t just sending athletes to competitions, there are a lot of things that a non-profit organisation should look to do in promoting jiu jitsu within our country.”

Martin also spoke of the other areas the UKBJJA are exploring as they bid to support jiu jitsu within the UK, with the idea of the art being introduced into deprived areas and communities being discussed as the association looks into helping BJJ both on and off the mat.



“We all enjoy the athlete’s doing well, but I would just as much like to see funding towards perhaps good causes in deprived areas and promoting jiu jitsu in areas where it would do a lot of good for local communities. That’s something I would like to see as well and I don’t think we should restrict ourselves to just investing funds in sending athletes to tournaments, I think that’s a very good thing to do, but I should stress there are many more things we can do and we have an outreaching officer who is looking into these areas.

“As we grow more and more, hopefully we’ll have the ability the develop jiu jitsu at home in areas where it’s needed. It’s not our only focus to send athletes to tournaments.

“Jiu jitsu is for everyone, it’s not just for the elite athletes. We all have our personal stories of how jiu jitsu has helped and also we have seen it help people in difficult situations and for me that is just as important to see that side of the development and have funds used for that, not just for competing. Again, it’s a decision that will be made by the UK BJJ Association and it will be a decision that we all agree on.”

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January 27, 2015 — Jiu Jitsu Style