Whanganui will host the first ever tournament of one of New Zealand's fastest growing martial arts sports in the country in October.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu worldwide is rapidly-growing sport designed for families and competitors of all shapes, sizes and skill level and to showcase the art Gracie Gym Wanganui will host the Gladiators in Gi on October 15 at Springvale Stadium.

Gracie Gym Wangnaui co-ordinator and former national white belt champion Jo Burke said the Brazilian form of the Japanese martial art was developed many years ago by a smaller member of the Gracie family who was forced to sit and watch competition in his younger years.

"Pretty much everyone in Brazil do jiu jitsu now and that form was developed to allow smaller competitors to gain control over larger opponents. It's a grappling type of martial art. I'm 55kg and my partner is 120kg, but we can have an even match," Burke said yesterday.

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"Gladiators in Gi (Gi is the uniform fighters wear) will be the first ever Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament held in Whanganui and we are aiming for it to be an annual event the entire family can enjoy.

"It's becoming big in New Zealand and we are aiming for up to 100 competitors to register. Two or three years ago national competitions would attract about 100, but last year there were 260 kids and 190 adults, so it's growing rapidly," she said.

A $500 cash prize is up for grabs in both the men and women's absolute grades in October and Burke said entry costs had been set to cover venue costs.

"It's $30 for kids and $50 for adults and we will also have a DJ and food stall available to help make it an enjoyable day out for the entire family. We have the cash prizes, but there will also be spot prizes and the tournament is open to all clubs and grappling styles.

"Gracie Gym Wanganui is a non-profit organisation running out of the Wanganui Martial Arts Centre in Wickstead St and if there is any money left over it will go toward next year's event. Thanks to support from local businesses we have been able to put up the prize money," Burke said.

Spectators are welcome with door charges for adults set at $5 and $2 for children.