2nd at the 2010 Atemi Nationals. 4th in 2011. Good results but not good enough when you know you’re the best. This year was set to be the year that LUU Jiu Jitsu finally took its rightful place at the top of the mountain and that’s exactly what happened. There’s now no doubt about it. The best Jiu Jitsu club in the country is right here at Leeds University.
The belief was there from the very beginning and with seven of the club’s seventeen competitors making it through the preliminary rounds to reach their finals on Sunday afternoon, expectations were high. The first success came via Grace Davey in the yellow belt category. Initially under pressure, she turned the tables on her attackers with an aggressive and confident performance that not only impressed her peers, but clearly also impressed the judges. Her reward was 4th place, earning the club one point in the overall standings.
Going into the weekend, it was no secret that it would most likely be the orange belt category in which the club would excel. Having only started a year ago, the club’s orange belts have proved their skill often and they used their seemingly limitless potential to great effect this weekend. Dan Grout employed his blend of technique and violence to earn a bronze medal whilst Thomas Baxendale utilised his speed, finesse and incredible throwing skills to claim a gold medal. Another six points for the club and practically one hand on the trophy. It looked like it just needed one more big result to secure the ultimate prize. That result came in the purple category courtesy of Juniata Bellham.
Jiu Jitsu is all about using the aggressor’s energy against them. You don’t need to be big or strong to do it well. Juniata is the perfect example of this principle in practice and the judges clearly agreed. The diminutive Jitsuka put in a brilliant performance to win a gold medal. The club’s instructors led by example with Sensei Luke Bishop (1st Dan) and Sensei Simon Pickersgill (brown belt) competing in the Open. It’s a very difficult competition to win when going up against 2nd and 3rd Dans but both instructors gave it their all. They certainly did their reputations no harm and although they didn’t manage to finish in the medals, Leeds were still well represented with former club instructor Sensei David Yates taking his second Open victory and Sensei Jonathan Edward of Leeds Town Club finishing 3rd. Leeds Town had also earlier achieved success in the light blue belt category with Kalda Khan winning a silver medal and at the close of the weekend Sensei Jonathan Edward was promoted to Secondary Tutor by the head of The Jitsu Foundation.
It was an achievement that was met with rapturous applause for a highly respected instructor. The final results made for excellent reading: 4th place for Grave Davey; a great start. 3rd and 1st places for Dan Grout and Thomas Baxendale; the anticipation grew. 1st place for Juniata Bellham; could this be the year? After all the results had been announced and the medals handed out, it was time to find out who was going home with the Club Shield. It was Leeds University Union. Sensei Luke Bishop ran out to receive the Shield and as he lifted it high above his head, the roar went up from the club. They had done it. They had proved they were the best and there was no question about it anymore. Job done, potential fulfilled, champions at last.
So what’s next for LUU Jiu Jitsu? It was back to training on Monday night in preparation for the upcoming grading and the Randori (Judo) Nationals to be held in February. Success doesn’t come by resting on your laurels and the ambition is greater than ever. The aim is to win the Randori Nationals and go on to retain the Club Shield at next year’s Atemi Nationals. With Sensei Luke Bishop leading the charge, you’d have to be crazy to bet against it.
Author: Ranvir Singh Kalare