Quintin van Jaarsveld
South Coast Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners showcased slick submission skills in the Ground Quest competition at Gladiator Fight Academy in Pinetown on Saturday.
Approximately 60 athletes from 10 gyms participated, including the Margate-based Parabellum Fight Club contingent of Abigail Rawlins (under 70kg ladies), Willie Roberts (under 70kg), Peter Gavin, Darren Ovenstone (both under 80kg), Wasim Abbas Sipra (under 90kg) and head trainer and mixed martial arts (MMA) star Gary Smit (open).
The round-robin competition pitted grapplers against each other in five-minute matches. Smit led by example as the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) ace won the open division for the second successive year, while Roberts reigned supreme in the under 70kg category.
“To see my students partake in a competition and coming out loving the experience – whether they win or lose – means I have done my job well,” Smit told eHowzit.
“The fact that the team is so much bigger than usual is great. The support between us really benefits everyone and the support we had that came and watched was very much appreciated.
“Between Abigail competing after just a month of training to Willie winning his division, it says a lot for what’s to come in the future.”
Smit was the smallest grappler in the open division, however, his vast experience saw him get the submission in all three of his matches.
Smit, who is unbeaten in the EFC Hexagon, hasn’t grazed the cage since he pummelled Port Elizabeth leviathan Ivan Strydom to pick up his second first-round TKO in as many fights in November 2015.
“I love your face” entered that heavyweight showdown with a pulled hamstring and revealed lingering injuries have kept him out of the cage. The 30-year-old, however, hopes to make a comeback soon.
“I’m still battling with my hands and certain other injuries, but I’ll definitely be back in the MMA scene as soon as I can.”
Until then, Smit’s focus is on growing Parabellum, where he offers a variety of martial arts training and fitness programmes.
“I’m concentrating on training the team. The dojo is growing every month and I’m looking to expand the premises soon.”
Those interested in classes can contact Smit on 076 337 0557.