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15th March 2016

The University of Manchester Jiu Jitsu club’s Randori success

The University of Manchester Jiu Jitsu club had a very successful outing at the Randori nationals, bringing home 4 medals. Sport Editor Will Kelly caught up with team captain Tom Basso and starlets James Sharples and Kamilla Polujanski

The University of Manchester Jiu Jitsu club enjoyed a successful outing at the Randori nationals the weekend of the 27th of February, an event that celebrates the Judo heritage of the Jiu Jitsu style.

For those who do not know much about Jiu Jitsu, it is a sport that encompasses a wealth of throwing techniques from both Judo and Aikido. The latter involves a lot of arm locks and wrist techniques, which were essential to samurai combat, since the goal was to land the opponent on their unprotected neck or to break a joint such as their arms or knees.

Over the years, Japanese Ju Jitsu has existed in many forms under various other names before it settled at ‘Shorinji Kan’ in the 1950s. It was this that reshaped traditional techniques to form a more realistic self-defence, using them to defend theirselves from bottle attacks, knives, batons and chains. This is the current style of the University of Manchester club.

The goal is to throw your attacker to the floor, whilst staying on your own two feet to stay safe and keep control of the fight. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu differs from this style in the sense that it’s essentially a 1v1 sparring sport dominated by ground pins and holds.

Ten of the club’s members travelled to Wolverhampton to compete against sixty other clubs from around the country. Those below the green belt (3rd belt) did ground fighting, aiming to pin their opponent to the ground, while those above did both ground fighting and standing judo.

Ged Parkinson enjoyed notable success, winning silver in the ground fighting and bronze in the green belt standing Judo competition, while Joshua Buckingham-Bostock put up a good enough fight to secure bronze in the purple belt standing Judo competition. Kamila Polujanski also showed she was no pushover as she competed against grades two belts higher than herself and still managed to secure silver.

Kamilla recognises that there are significantly less women involved in the sport but was pleased to see that at least a third of participants competing at the Randori were women. Team captain Tom Rosso explained that grappling martial arts has not been a sport that traditionally attracts women but, due to the recent success of many female fighters, he believes that womens’ participation is on the up because the fighters are showing that women can be successful.

“It’s becoming socially acceptable for women to actually go out and fight”, Kamilla added, “It’s a big thing at the moment because it’s not feminine really”.

An increase in female participation at the club is certainly on the agenda, with James Sharples even going as far to say that they were looking into creating a women’s officer role for the club. In fact, increasing overall participation has been Tom’s target since the start of the year so he is delighted to hear that more members of the club are competing.

“Last year we only had 2 members of the club travelling down for the Randori Nationals so to get 10 people going down this year was great to see! Martial arts is growing in popularity but the end goal is really more about getting people to feel secure enough to compete”.

There is certainly a real community feel for Jiu Jitsu in the north-west of England, whereby members of the University of Manchester club often join up with other universities to train together. James recently attended a training session in Liverpool where he made new friends with members of their club. At the Randori nationals he lost against one of these friends and, although he had wanted to win himself, said that, “it was great to have that sense of camaraderie between the clubs”.

James met members of the Liverpool club again Saturday the 12th March, as the Manchester club underwent its grading, an assessment to demonstrate all the available techniques and to prove that you can apply them under pressure. While in Judo you can gain your belts through competing, Jiu Jitsu requires that you be graded before you are promoted to another belt, despite being able to win medals at competitions.  “If you do particularly well in the grading, you will get a particular stripe on your belt called a mon”, added James.

It is the rise of Manchester’s club that has caused concern amongst Christie cup rivals, Leeds and Liverpool. Tom tells us that the other clubs are trying to have the rules changed to favour them. “Many of our members have been successful at the ground fighting aspect of the sport and some of the clubs want to limit that aspect. I assume it’s because they don’t feel confident”. The team is certainly one to look out for in their quest to bring home the Christie cup.

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