The Gracie Barra gym has added to its long history of success with three double gold medallists in the first stage of the recent Sydney Cup Brazilian Jui Jitsu 2017 circuit.
Isaac Thompson, 14, Isaiah Lazaro, 14, and Anthony Bornman, 9, each won gold medals across two divisions at the tournament.
After opening a new gym in Rouse Hill in October, former national and Pan Pacific champion Chris Sales, who also runs the Gracie Barra gym at Blacktown, said the move to Rouse Hill had already uncovered some talented students.
“We have a stronger athlete base at Blacktown but in Rouse Hill, although it’s new, we are already starting to get a few machines out this way,” Sales said.
“There are a lot of naturally talented kids that are coming and we’re able to help them reach their fullest potential.”
Isaac, a Bella Vista resident, has competed in martial arts since he was eight but joined Gracie Barra earlier this year.
“It felt pretty good,” he said of winning the dual gold medals in the Sydney Cup event.
“I’ve had lots of success over the years.”
The young fighter also competes in other martial arts such as muay thai and boxing.
He said he enjoys the sport and learning different styles of fighting and has a strong drive to be the best.
“I like tapping people out, it’s fun,” Isaac said.
“When I get older, I want to get to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and be the best there is.”
Sales has been involved in the sport since 1999 and has aimed to build an inclusive culture at his gyms.
This includes welcoming newcomers and focusing on developing a happy training environment for his students, regardless of their skill level.
It’s why he believes jui jitsu is about more than just fighting.
“Everyone’s got potential and everyone deserves an opportunity to learn,” Sales said.
“They don’t have to be that great or that skillful to belong with us.
“Basically we just use jui jitsu as a tool to improve our personality and character. It just so happens that we like fighting as well.”
The gym also promotes anti-bullying which Sales hopes will help throughout his students’ school and work lives.
“We teach our students how to deal with bullying,” he said.
“Bullying is never going to go away but jui jitsu is a tool we can use to build the confidence to walk away from a bully without having to exercise their skill.”
With an aim to teach students to fight for self defence, he said competitions are a great outlet for students to showcase their skills.