Posted Monday 26 March 2018
Students from Kingston University's Jiu Jitsu club are celebrating after retaining their crown as national champions at the country's largest amateur competition.
The team collected nine gold medals and four silvers at the annual Randori Nationals – held across a weekend at the Benham Sports Arena in Northampton – to finish as winners of the competition.
President of Kingston University Jiu Jitsu club and final year psychology student Omer Awan said that the success was a just reward for the dedication and progress of the club in recent years. "Seeing so many talented students – many of who join us as complete beginners to try out something new – competing nationally and winning is testimony to the hard work that everybody puts in all year-round," he said. "This year the competition coincided with several members of the team nursing injuries, so our expectations weren't as high as in previous years.
"To then come out on top in a highly competitive field despite those setbacks was very satisfying indeed."
– who developed a passion for Jiu Jitsu and a desire to pursue coaching qualifications during his time studying at Kingston in the 1990s.Jiu Jitsu, which dates back to the Sengoku period of 1336 to 1573, combines a number of Japanese martial arts and incorporates self-defence mechanisms as well as offensive techniques. The club meets twice a week for training at the University gym at Penrhyn Road, and is coached by English literature graduate Saeed Jabbar
Saeed has seen the club develop throughout the last 20 years and said its members were a model example for any University sports society. "The Jiu Jitsu club here is very much student-led with a highly dedicated group of members that are keen for one another to succeed," he said. "It is also a very inclusive club that allows members to join, participate at their own pace and compete no matter what ability, gender or size they are – reflecting the core values of the Union of Kingston Students and the University as a whole."
Although the sport's reputation in the United Kingdom is still growing, club president Omer spoke of how it offers an excellent opportunity for students looking to try something new – just as he did when he first arrived at Kingston University from Philadelphia in the United States.
"When I was younger I did tae kwon do and wrestling, but I had never really considered Jiu Jitsu until I came to Kingston University," he said. "Moving away from home can be lonely, but playing sport has been such a massive part in my experience of university – I have gained so much self-confidence and made many friends who I otherwise wouldn't have even had the opportunity of meeting."
• Find out more about sport at the Union of Kingston Students
• Find out more about the University's Sports Performance Programme that supports talented athletes.