Hastings club in the medals at Essex tournament

From left: John Rose, Dan Young, Samuli Antonen, Ben Campbell and Craig Namvar
From left: John Rose, Dan Young, Samuli Antonen, Ben Campbell and Craig Namvar

Martial artists from Gracie Barra Hastings won a hatful of medals at a grappling tournament in Essex.

The five fighters picked up gold, silver and bronze medals at the annual Nogi Southend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championship.

Hundreds of competitors from BJJ teams across the country entered the event, which saw them matched according to belt grade, weight and age.

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Samuli Antonen suffered bad luck before the tournament even began - breaking his toe warming up 10 minutes before his first fight in the blue belt lightweight division.

He taped it up and went on to win the bout via D’arce choke. He then lost his second via a calf crusher and his final fight in overtime to place fourth overall.

Ben Campbell took gold in the blue belt masters two middleweight division, winning his first match by rear naked choke in overtime and his second by a choke.

He then went on to the blue belt absolute division - open to competitors of all ages and weights in that grade - but was unlucky to lose his match via a leg lock.

Dan Young was awarded a default gold medal in the blue belt master one super heavyweight category after his opponent failed to show up.

He went on to the absolutes and put on a terrific display to win his first fight by arm in guillotine. Although he lost his semi-final by a heel hook to the eventual winner, he won the third place play-off via D’arce choke to claim the bronze medal.

Craig Namvar had to fight in a younger age category due to a lack of competitors in his bracket, but didn’t let that faze him as he won his first match by rear naked choke. He lost his second to an armbar, but it was enough to claim silver.

He then won his opening fight in the absolutes with a guillotine, but lost his second to a rear naked choke and his third to an armbar, to claim fourth overall.

Veteran warrior John Rose lost his two fights in the adult purple belt ultra-heavy category, having had to fight younger opponents once again, so went home with the bronze medal.

His first went the distance but his opponent won by keeping him longer in back control, while in the second, he was caught with a leg triangle.

Paul Bridges, head instructor at Gracie Barra Hastings, said he was proud of all fighters.

“It takes a lot of courage to put it on the line at a competition, and I’m delighted with everyone that took part and went up to support the team,” he said.

Although it has been very successful in competitions, GB Hastings is as focused on self-defence training as it is on preparing for tournaments.

Classes are run daily at the academy’s home in Earl Street, Hastings. Contact Paul on 07967 659867.