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Following the first BJJ247 – UK BJJ Elite Youth Squad event in Manchester, head coach Neil Simkin has called the maiden tournament ‘a fantastic achievement’, with all entries financially contributing to the UK BJJ Youth Squad and the future of UK BJJ.

Simkin, a Braulio Estima black belt and head coach at Simkin Martial Arts in Walsall, overlooked as more than 100 juvenile competitors flocked to Manchester’s Sugden Sports Centre and competed as part of a new partnership with BJJ247, who will be hosting tournaments up and down the country, as well as abroad, during 2015.

The UK BJJ Elite Youth Squad travelled to the Pan Ams under Simkin and other coaches, including Bradley Hill, one of the most active competitors in the UK and had great success. A twenty-two competitor strong team managed to bring a haul of sixteen medals back from the most prestigious juvenile jiu jitsu event in the world.

Since then, the agreement has been made that every under 18s entry to BJJ247 events will go directly to UK BJJ Elite Youth Squad to help some of the UK’s brightest grappling talents to reach their full potential with the best start possible in their jiu jitsu.

The link is further evidence of expansion of the BJJ247 brand since Lawrence Dutton took over as director earlier this year. All black belts are now invited to compete for free at all events, with competitions planned for Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool and new international events to come.

Speaking exclusively at the event, Simkin said:

“It’s a fantastic achievement for the BJJ247 and the UK BJJ Youth Team. We had over 100 kids competing all at the same level, which means there were no mismatches. We had a lot of the elite team in Manchester and they medalled. Overall, it’s great for the future and it’s great to have people like Mat Hire UK on board to help supply the events.”

The affiliation between BJJ247 and UK BJJ Elite Youth Squad enjoyed a hugely successful debut event working together and it appears to bode well for the future of UK BJJ, providing it repeats the success from Manchester on the 18th of April.

“The idea came from speaking with Lawrence at the Kids Nationals, we sat and discussed and he proposed helping raise money for the squad,” says Simkin. “I’ve known Lawrence a long time and with him taking on BJJ247, we were more than happy to join him for the ride and do a good thing.

“If we can get all the events like the Manchester Open it can only be a good thing. The most important thing is creating an event as one; my half is just getting the kids to compete with fair matches at fair belt levels.”

Junior competitors will have the chance to not only prove themselves against the best the UK has to offer, but potentially earn a place on the squad and invitations to the group’s training sessions which take place under Neil Simkin and Fernando Terere black belt Jimmy Johnstone, with Simkin acting as a squad scout at the events.

“It’s good for the future and it gives me chance to scout and bring them into the squad,” says Simkin. “We had a few kids that we invited today to train with us. We want the best in the country and we aren’t far behind that at all. We have twelve world champions now in the elite squad so, it’s good to see them competing. At one moment we even had two world champions on the same mat, the fought with each other.

“When the kids earn the patch, it should be frightening to their opponents. Other kids should look at it and think ‘I want one’ and that’s the way it should be. We don’t just give them out, the kids who get them, earned them.”

The nature of the squad means places will continuously become available for new competitors to join the elite of juvenile jiu jitsu in the UK, so faces could change, but the mission remains the same according to Simkin, who confirmed upcoming trips to NAGA in Germany and Brazil for those who earn the patch for their gis.

“We have training and squad selections coming up first, then we shoot off to NAGA in Germany in May, before flying to Brazil at the end of the year to lead up to next year’s Pan Ams,” explains Simkin. “For myself, I’ll be competing at Super15 in Bournemouth so it’s all busy for me.

“Also, man, watching the juveniles at Manchester – my own daughter Charli is part of the squad and she fought at adult blue belt today and won, she’s only fifteen and is setting the level of progression we need to see from the infants through to the juveniles.”

Simkin also insisted there is a system in place to ensure that complacency does not become an issue for those in the team:

“The good thing is the kids have to keep their place in the squad, so every selection we start a fresh. So, for example, the kid who might have won the Pan Ams; if they’re beaten in the selections then the kid doesn’t keep their place on the team. That’s the way it is, it isn’t ‘we’ve achieved this and now we’re done’, each child must go through the same selection process and no child is treat any differently.

If you win the selection, you go to the competition and that’s why it’s good that we have the link with BJJ247 now because every little bit helps, it’s a massive task that we’ve taken on but we’re making great strides.”

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April 29, 2015 — Jiu Jitsu Style