Four local martial artists will take part in one of the world’s biggest Jiu Jitsu tournaments this weekend when they travel to Portugal.
All four are members of the Rilion Gracie Academy on Letterkenny’s Port Road and will be taking part in the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation event in Lisbon from today (Thursday) through to Sunday.
The martial art and sport, which often referred to simply as “BJJ”, started in Brazil and mainly involves ground fighting.
The championships is a non-seeded competition where the best BJJ fighters from around the world take part in every year.
The competitors are Brian Coyle from Ramelton, a brown belt, who is also an instructor at the Rilion Gracie school; Bryan Gorman, a purple belt from Donegal Town; Mark Barrett, a blue belt from Rathmullan and Jevgenijs Kurakus, a white belt living in Letterkenny.
Brian “Barney” Coyle, a founder of the Rilion Gracie Academy in Letterkenny in 2010, began the sport in 2004 in Milford. The 29-year-old has been training for ten years and is hoping for good results from the championships.
It is his first time competing in this competition and says that he is making good progress preparing for the championships and would like to thank everyone who helped him get where he is today. He previously claimed a silver medal at the prestigious Miami Open in America.
Brian explained: “Preparations have been good. All the hard work is done now and we are looking forward to the championships. You have to have a good mind-set going in to the event but we don’t want to get overconfident either.
“It’s always good to get your first fight over and done with. I would like to thank all my training partners, all the coaches, to Bryan Gorman who helped me with my strength and conditioning and to all the people who are helping me run the gym while we are away”.
Mark Barrett, known to many as “Buzz”, has been taking part in BJJ since the club opened in 2010. The 27-year-old from Rathmullan has been successful over the years winning the Irish event known as “Grapplepalooza” in the summer in the blue belt division and got silver in the Irish Open in the white belt division.
Mark says he was hoping just to get fit when he started BJJ, but now he is hoping to do well in the championships.
“At the start, I just wanted to loose weight and get fit, but now I am focused on doing well in the championship. It is my first time entering the competition and I hope it is successful”.
Jiu Jitsu is originally a martial art from Japan and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu emerged in the early 1900’s after a famous Japanese fighter called Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to South America where he instructed Carlos Gracie, who along with his brother Helio, refined the art making it more effective.
For anyone wishing to learn this rapidly growing sport you can call into the Academy on the Port Road, Letterkenny, above Sage Restaurant or call 085 8269259.