This weekend will see the return of the biggest New Zealand Grapplers Competition with competitors traveling from Australia and across the country for the one-day event in Auckland.
The event, in its seventh year, will again play host to top fighters from New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.
Steve Oliver (Ngāti Porou) says, “Our vision is to bring up the BJJ in New Zealand to a world class standard and that’s starting to happen.
In the last few years, we’ve had two or three world champions in various disciplines.”
There will be a total eight mats running at once with a new draw system to make sure things run to plan.
Oliver, who is a BJJ Black Belt, says the Gi Nationals will introduce belts for the first time to the winners of the men’s and women’s Absolute Advance divisions.
“It’s going to be a big black and brown belt division so it’s going to be exciting times.
Black belts kick off around lunch time.”
Over 600 participants, kids and adults, will take to the mat.
Event organisers expect a huge turnout of Māori fighters this year.
Oliver says, “The first tournament was 120. We are now pulling close to 700 and our last nationals was an easy split. There was around 300 and 300.”
Professor Oliver recalls the time he had to travel overseas to compete against the best fighters.
However, with the creation of NZ Grapplers, fighters can now enjoy competing against decorated fighters closer to home.
Oliver says, “I competed a lot and I lived in Australia for a really long time.
The divide has really shortened up in the last few years and the Kiwis are really doing a great job”.
The event weigh-in kicks off at 8am, Saturday, August 5, at ASB Stadium, Kohimarama, Auckland.