Success in jiu jitsu takes more than just strength and agility. Those who excel in the sport need mental strength and an ability to remain focused, as a group of Rotorua athletes demonstrated in California.
Being able to adapt and problem solve on the spot are the keys to success in jiu jitsu.
So says HT Strength and Fitness coach Paki Wilson and he should know, he was one of eight athletes from the Rotorua-based training facility to medal at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships in California last month.
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Lennix Thomas, 8, Kingston Thomas, 10 and Sissy Bidois, 13, claimed medals in the junior divisions while Wilson, Te Roi Kingi, Joe Barton, Tawharau Mohi and Chelsea Retemeyer made their way onto podiums in the senior.
"The performance of the team overall was excellent," Wilson said.
"It was pretty much the first time, apart from Chelsea and myself, that the crew had competed at an international competition. They were able to level-up, develop and grow at the competition too."
While the team was successful at the event, he said it was also a good learning experience.
"They learned heaps, that's part of competing on the international scene. It's another level. Half the struggle is being able to perform in that environment and in that atmosphere.
"We had nearly 1000 competitors, including adults and kids, at our last nationals here. At worlds you're looking at 2000-3000 over the two days from the young kids right up to the black belts.
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"Our strategy and our game plan stay the same but what you have to take into account is we came up against and competed against people who have a game plan, style and strategy that we might not have come across before.
"That's part of the learning curve; being able to adapt and problem solve on the spot while it's happening. Before we went to worlds we were training two to three times a day, six days a week."
Wilson has a background in Muay Thai, karate and taekwondo. He gave jiu jitsu a go because his son was doing it and has not looked back since.
"My son started training in 2010, I started in about 2011. They asked me to help train their guys for mixed martial arts and to do that I had to get an idea of what this jiu jitsu business was all about, that's how I got into it.
"It's a sport that anyone can do, all fitness levels, all ages and even if you have disabilities. It's something the whole family can train at the same time. The difference with jiu jitsu is you can go hard and compete two to three times a week without getting too beat up. If someone's getting the better of you, you are still in control because you can tap out. It's a sport where you can go hard but not lose control."
"Our strategy and our game plan stay the same but what you have to take into account is we came up against and competed against people who have a game plan, style and strategy that we might not have come across before."
While members of the club had found success in the sporting arena, jiu jitsu is also a valuable form of self-defence which is empowering.
"You see it in our kids, a lot of their parents bring them because they are getting bullied. You see it in the adults, a lot of them don't have that confidence. After a few weeks of jiu jitsu you see the changes in them.
"It is a bit of a cliche and every martial arts says it but it's just a reality, it is a by-product of our sport. I'm not saying we're the only ones it happens to but it happens."
HT Strength and Fitness results at Jiu Jitsu World Championships
10-year-old Grey Belt White Stripe: Lennix Thomas, 8, No-Gi: gold, Gi: silver.
12-13-year-old Yellow Belt: Kingston Thomas, 10, No-Gi: gold, Gi: silver.
13-year-old Orange Belt: Sissy Bidois, 13, No-Gi: gold, Gi: gold.
White Belt: Te Roi Kingi, No-Gi: silver.
Blue Belt: Joe Barton, No-Gi: silver, Gi: bronze.
Blue Belt: Tawharau Mohi, No-Gi: bronze, Gi: bronze.
Blue Belt: Chelsea Retemeyer, No-Gi: gold, Gi: silver.
Purple Belt: Paki Wilson, No-Gi: gold.