The region has proven a formidable training ground for young grapplers.

A Hawke's Bay team of children trained in Brazilian jiu jitsu, a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and ground-fighting, returned from the national championships in Auckland with a haul of medals.

Allegiance Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy head instructor and black belt Damian Smith said a team of 17 children, between 6 and 13, made the trip to New Zealand Grappler's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi Nationals Tournament at the weekend.

Representing the Will Machado team, which came second in the competition overall, the youngsters from the local academy took home six of the team's seven gold medals, as well as five silver and three bronze medals.


Mr Smith's son, 12-year-old Tyler Smith, also earned his fifth national title with a gold medal, winning both his fights in a combined 11 seconds.

He has been training in Brazilian jiu jitsu since he was 4.

Mr Smith, who has trained in the art for 12 years, said Brazilian jiu jitsu served as a positive influence in the lives of his primary and intermediate school-age students.

"Their confidence goes through the roof," he said.

It also improved flexibility and mobility, which helped them to excel in other sports.

Mr Smith teaches children's classes in Haumoana and Hastings.

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