Paki Ormsby has just returned from winning gold in his age group at the Pan Pacific ju-jitsu championships in Melbourne, but less than three years ago he had hardly heard of the sport.

In the end, his father established Tauranga MMA to give his boy a place to train.

"We were looking for a gym for Paki to train at and there wasn't really one at the time, so we found the premises and opened up," said Paki's father Jamahl Ormsby.

"He hadn't had any involvement before then - he was just playing rugby and pig hunting.

Advertisement

"He's been doing it since then and has been in the top two for his age in New Zealand since. He's trained hard and the New Zealand competition is strong as far as ju-jitsu goes."

In that short time the gym, tucked away on Birch Avenue, has attracted about 20 fighters under the Gracie Barra Aotearoa banner.

The Brazilian technique is seen as a cornerstone of any mixed martial artist's repertoire, with Tauranga MMA's tuition also including aspects of muay thai.

Auckland-based Lance Campbell is the lead instructor, with Michael Apaapa providing tuition for midweek trainings.

That combination has turned Paki into a dangerous proposition. "He's got a few tricks. He likes the arm bars and the baseball chokes. He comes after me all the time; he got me this morning. We play fight all the time, but he's ticklish so I have that on my side."

Paki wants to be a professional fighter and is looking to qualify for the world championships in Abu Dhabi early next year.