‘Godfather’ Mauricio hosts sold-out seminar in Hastings

Mauricio Gomes (left) and Paul Bridges at Gracie Barra Hastings. Picture courtesy John Rose
Mauricio Gomes (left) and Paul Bridges at Gracie Barra Hastings. Picture courtesy John Rose

Mauricio Gomes, one of the highest ranked instructors of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, has once again shared his knowledge at a sold-out seminar in Hastings.

The red and white coral belt, known as the Godfather of British Jiu Jitsu for his efforts to promote the sport, visited the Gracie Barra Hastings academy in Earl Street.

He taught sport and self-defence techniques for more than two hours before taking part in a belt promotion ceremony and posing for photographs with students.

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Gomes, who has trained BJJ for more than half a century, praised the Hastings school, which is run by head instructor Paul Bridges and his wife, fellow black belt Ali Bayley.

“It’s always the warmest of welcomes at Gracie Barra Hastings,” he said. “I have known Paul for a long time and it’s such a pleasure to see how far he has come.”

Bridges, who was awarded his black belt by Gomes and Marc Walder a decade ago, said it was a great opportunity for all students to train under such an influential figure.

“It’s always humbling to have such a true legend on our mats,” he said. “Mauricio is such an important person in the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.”

The packed seminar, which had more than 40 people on the mat, also saw Paul Eames promoted to purple belt.

There were also blue belts for Vicki Ayres, Noah Moralis, Craig Namvar, Annie Hildreth, Lou Young, Stefano Revolon and Joseph Gregory.

A further 25 students received stripes on their existing belts, which chart progress between the various grades.

Adult beginners start as white belts, with the grades going blue, purple, brown and black. To receive the coveted black belt usually takes up to 15 years of study.

Gomes, who started training at just four-years-old, is one of an elite group to have been awarded his black belt by the late Rolls Gracie, a legendary figure in the art.

Under his guidance he became a feared competitor and his success included winning the absolute division of the Rio de Janeiro State Championships back in 1981.

Gomes moved to the UK in the late 1990s and established the first Gracie Barra gym in the country. He now helps run his son’s academies in London, Buckinghamshire and Bicester.

His red and white coral belt is the equivalent of an 8th degree black belt.

The Hastings academy, which was set up by Bridges in the mid-1990s, has grown rapidly and is affiliated to the international Gracie Barra organisation.

It’s also established an enviable reputation for attracting high-level BJJ figures with Gomes the latest to visit this year, following Lucio Rodrigues, Victor Estima and Braulio Estima.

As well as running active – and successful – competition teams for both adults and juniors, the club focuses a lot of attention on techniques that can be used in real life situations.

Gracie Barra Hastings runs classes for all ages and abilities. If you are interested in giving it a go, call Bridges on 07967 659867 or visit www.graciebarrahastings.com