A martial arts club with a 10-year history in the Kootenays is seeing success in the Queen City.
Originating in Castlegar, Kootenay Jiujitsu came to Nelson just over a year ago wanting to grow their sport into the local community.
“I like to think our jiujitsu classes offer something for almost everyone,” said instructor Brent James.
“If a person wants to get in shape, be more flexible, more coordinated, this class can help. If a person wants to learn to defend themselves and get strong, if a person wants to train to be a world champion, we have the skill set in our school to help the process of becoming an athlete.”
Jiujitsu originates from both judo and aikido. Judo was brought to Brazil where it became named Brazilian jiujitsu and it became popular in fight competition for its effectiveness and practicality.
James became interested in jiujitsu many years ago. He had been wrestling since junior high, ran practices during senior high and after graduation, then started training with mixed martial artists. “They introduced me to submissions and I started entering grappling tournaments,” he said.
Jiujitsu is a martial art that focuses on submission without harming your opponent.
“The beauty of jiujitsu is that being a submission art, there is no striking so a person can train at full speed with a lot less risk of injury than other martial arts,” said James.
Studying jiujitsu for eight years, James has now been teaching at Kootenay Jiujitsu under Ben Jolicoeur. They are affiliated with nine-time heavyweight world champion Rigan Machado, “a Brazilian jiujitsu legend.”
Late this winter, the club took 29 members to a tournament in Vernon.
With a great showing of talent and hard work, kids and adults brought home a combined total of 45 medals, including 15 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze medals.
The team also brought home trophies for second place in the kids no-gi division, third place in the kids gi division, third place in the adult no-gi division and third place adult gi division.
The Nelson crew brought five competitors who came back with six medals — Hazel McDonald won silver in the girls division, Tzohi McDonald won bronze in the no-gi division, Tajudin McDonald won silver in the gi division, and Sejah McDonald won silver in gi division.
Nelson’s instructor Brent McDonald also won gold in the masters division and a bronze in the open weight class division.
“We are proud of the work all of the students have done, and more proud of the friendship and sportsmanship the team displayed,” said James.
“Many of the kids had to compete against members of their own team and they showed each other a lot of respect. We congratulate them.”
Kootenay Jiujitsu offers classes in Nelson for boys and girls as young as five as well as adults.
Anyone interested can call at 250-551-4026 or drop by their location for classes at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at 646 Baker Street, under The Dollar Store at the Kootenai Physical Arts Centre.