Hold on tight

Could you take down Goliath without throwing a punch?  Could you live the way of the warrior?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the UK Military’s newest and fastest growing recognised sport. BJJ is a martial art focusing on grappling – specifically ground fighting.

It is rooted in the principle that a smaller individual can successfully defend themselves against a larger individual by using proper technique and leverage, then applying a variety of joint locks and choke holds in order to defeat their adversary.

Headed up by team captain WO2 John Goodwin, members of 26 Regt RA began training in early 2017 with the Paderborn Wombats Martial Arts Academy.  The intention from the beginning was to compete in the Army BJJ Winter Championships, held on the March 15 at the Army Combat Centre, Aldershot.

As a combat sport, BJJ offers participants a method of hand-to-hand self-defence that does not rely on striking an opponent and is considered to be one of the most demanding sports within the military.

While in competition it is two individuals facing off on the matt, the demanding nature of the sport and reliance on partners in training helps build an understanding of one another, fosters a strong team spirit and ultimately helps increase operational effectiveness.

Having conducted training with the Paderborn Wombats in the weeks running up to the Army Championships, three members of 26 Regt RA travelled to Colchester on March 9 in order to conduct an intensive week of training and preparation for the upcoming event.

Supported and hosted exceptionally well by the Penthouse Combat Club (PCC), 7 PARA RHA’s Jiu-Jitsu dojo, the 26 Regt RA team was welcomed to all of their training and preparation, as well as given free use of the dojo throughout the period. 

In addition the 26 Regt RA team got the opportunity to train with Alain Pozo,  Head Coach from the famous Carlson Gracie Essex dojo. 

Alain has worked extremely closely with the Penthouse Combat Club since its foundation, with students going to his dojo to attend lessons and seminars and him going to Penthouse to provide the same service on Merville Barracks, so he has been instrumental in much of the success of British Army Jiu-Jitsu to date. 

Having completed an intensive five-day training programme, the team left Colchester to travel to the Aldershot Combat Centre, home of the British Army Martial Arts Association.  

The first item of the day was the weigh-in, which is done in Gi – traditional BJJ clothing similar to a kimono – to confirm the weight brackets for the competition.

All members of 26 Regt RA would be competing at white belt with WO2 Goodwin participating in the lightweight division, Gnr Ross in the heavyweight division and Lt Johnston in the middleweight division. 

The event was broken down into Gi and No-Gi competitions – No-Gi competitors tend to wear compression clothing similar to that worn by mixed martial arts fighters. The Gi bouts took place in the morning and the No-Gi bouts in the afternoon.

Gnr Ross was first onto the mat, beating his first opponent in a tightly contested bout and managing to finish in the 3rd place, earning a bronze medal and the team’s first of the day.

Next WO2 Goodwin took to the mat, submitting his opponents in two dominant showings, earning a well-deserved gold medal. Finally it was Lt Johnston, who lost his opening match in the Gi competition. 

Following a short break for lunch the No-Gi bout began with Lt Johnston making it through to the bronze medal bout where his opponent was able to capitalise on a mistake meaning he finished the day in 4th place.  Gnr Ross continued his form from the morning, making it into the final and earning himself a hard-fought silver medal for his efforts. Finally, WO2 Goodwin continued in the same vein as the morning, submitting his first opponent and then winning the final on points to collect his second gold medal of the day. 

After a successful day for the team WO2 Goodwin was awarded his blue belt by Alain Pozo, who was his initial instructor when he started the sport.

The benefits of representative sport are well recognised by the Army, and the fitness, mental strength and confidence provided by training and competing in a combat sport would be of significant benefit to any and all personnel across the regiment. 

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