Young Māori Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champions mean business

By Aroha Treacher

The only Māori Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Tournament in the country has opened its doors for kids to participate as organisers look to grow the next generation of Māori champions. 

They may be small but just like the adults, they mean business.

No matter if they win or lose, tears are shed or lessons learned, it's all part of the learning game for these young warriors.

Organiser Pina Simpson says, "That's what today is all about, those kids out there, grappling with their cousins."

"They can go 100% without getting too aggresive and that's the beauty of the sport, there's no elbows, no knees and if there's contact, its by accident," says Barry Kingi Thomas.

The competition now into its second year is gathering support, with around half of the almost 70 competitors being kids.

The tournament was originally set up as a way for Māori to manage their warrior tendencies while maintaining respect and discipline.

Thomas says, "If we look back at WWI and WWII, that natural ihi wehi the spirti of Tūmatauenga is strong within our people they want to rumble we provide with an op to be able to do that in a safe environment."

Knowing genealogical links are encouraged, each fighter can maintain their links as they build their own fighting heritage.  

Next year, Te Arawa will host the tournament.

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