PICTOU – The sport of jiu jitsu has been growing in popularity locally for a number of years.
It stems from a Japanese form of martial art which teaches athletes to manipulate an opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force.
Jaret MacIntosh has been a proponent of the sport for a number of years, creating the Titans Jiu Jitsu Academy in New Glasgow.
Through that academy, a NO GI event will be taking place at the deCoste Centre in Pictou on July 30.
NO GI is a form of Brazilian jiu jitsu MacIntosh teaches to ages seven through adults.
MacIntosh says the art form is a lot like wrestling, where it deals with take downs of opponents, and he has seen a resurgence in the sport, especially among youth.
“We have 40 kids in our children’s program right now,” he notes.
Some of those children will be among competitors in the Chokes by the Ocean jiu jitsu event in Pictou.
“It’s an outside tournament during the day,” explains Derek Clarke, event organizer. “There will be four mat areas set up around the deCoste and there will be bouts taking place throughout the day featuring athletes of all ages.”
The tournament during the day is free of charge and people are invited check out the sport.
“Throughout the day there will be 250 to 300 competitors from as far away as Ontario, 18 of which are local competitors from Titans,” he notes, adding that it’s a great tourism boost for the area since these competitors will be coming with family.
The event culminates with a main attraction show inside the deCoste Centre featuring the best of the best in Canadian and American jiu jitsu athletes.
“We’ve hosted these events before, across the county, but it’s the first of its kind for Pictou,” says Clarke.
Through Clarke’s promotion company, Submission Series Promotions, the event will be streamed live on their YouTube channel for $7.99 or you can watch the main card live at the deCoste for $20.
“We have some of the best athletes in the world coming for the main event, some as far away as New York to compete.”
The show will consist of 12 matches, submission only.
“It’s a UFC-style show where the deCoste will be transformed into an arena with the mats on the floor,” he says.
Two local athletes from the Titans academy will be taking part in the main event as well, Mike Kitson and Travis Shaw. Kitson will be taking on Dainis Nguyen, who is ranked number one in Canada, for a 15-minute submission only fight.
“I started in Judo in 2000,” explains Kitson. “I always did jiu jitsu on the side, so it’s been almost 16 years I’ve been in the sport.”
Kitson says he was initially drawn to the sport because of some issues he was having in his life at the time.
“I was overweight and had some addiction problems,” he says. “I weighed 280 pounds and within two years I was down to 175 pounds. It (jiu jitsu) really helped me out a lot. It allowed me to surround myself with as many positive people as I could.”
Kitson says he’s starting to get more comfortable with being on a stage in front of people, but has been working hard to stay in shape, training four hours a day at least three days a week.
“I need to drop my weight a bit, he’s (Dainis) 165 pounds, but don’t let that fool you, he’s going to give me a hard time.”
He is excited for the event in Pictou, having competed in the Pan Am competition in 2004. Kitson is used to the crowds, but is happy this event is close to home and people can “head to the Jubilee afterward.”
Travis Shaw is also a local athlete competing in the main event against Halifax area’s Dave Reynolds. Shaw has been involved in jiu jitsu for the last four years, after he moved here from Fort McMurray.
“I learned about Jaret (MacIntosh) and he let me in (to the club) with open arms and I’ve trained non-stop ever since,” he said. It keeps me out of trouble and in shape.”
He says he is looking forward to his match.
“(Reynolds) is a pretty good competitor; he competes all over the States so I have my hands full. I feel great (though). I’m in good shape. I’m going on 43, most guys in the sport are younger than me so I try to stay in shape so I can keep up.”
Clarke says he’s excited to have the world’s eyes on Pictou in terms of jiu jitsu.
“A lot of local sponsors have stepped up to make this a great event,” he says. “We want it to be a day of fun where people can come see what the sport is all about.”
Above photo: Travis Shaw, one of the athletes involved in the main card event at the deCoste Centre on July 30, stands with show promoter Derek Clarke and main event competitor Mike Kitson at Titans Jiu Jitsu Academy in New Glasgow. Clarke is organizing a NO GI tournament on July 30 at the deCoste Centre in Pictou.