A teenager from East Sheen, Billy Hayes, has been named the top junior BJJ athlete in the UK by the UK Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association (UKBJJA). Billy topped the orange belt rankings this year with a string of impressive performances in competition and confirmed his number one spot after becoming English champion at the end of the year. He also was the the top junior in his local Southern England Kids BJJ League. His prize for his success is a free gi from sponsors Faixa Rua and free entry to all UKBJJA ranked events in 2016.
Billy, who grew up in East Sheen and is a pupil at Grey Court School, has trained BJJ seriously for 3 years at Carlson Gracie London, though he has been on the mats since the age of four. Despite his young age he has racked up numerous successes. The thirteen year old is European champion, a bronze medalist at the Kids Pan American Championships, a former British No Gi Champion, and his victory this year at the English was his third consecutive English Open title. As well as major national and international competitions, Billy also competes regularly at the Kids Leagues, monthly events run for junior competitors across the country under the auspices of the UKBJJA, the sport's governing body elect. Billy remarked: "It has been great being able to compete so regularly because of the UKBJJA's local leagues which are a lot of fun to do alongside the big events."
With the aim of encouraging and rewarding young talented athletes like Billy, the UKBJJA has developed a ranking system which recognises the top junior BJJ players. This includes large national competitions as well as local kids leagues. The big events in the calendar such as the British and English Open allow children to test themselves against the best competitors in the UK, while the aim of the regional league events is to promote BJJ at grass roots level by giving children and teenagers regular, relaxed and well-organised competitions every month, in a safe environment with experienced referees. As one parent commented, ".... what makes it for me is the smiles on the kids faces, no matter who they represent, how they did...whether win, lose or draw."
Billy will take a break over Christmas as the tournament season winds down, but will be back competing in 2016 looking to add to his tally of 23 golds. Besides competing, it's the love of being on the training mats that keeps Billy training BJJ. Having done other martial arts like Judo and Kickboxing, the Sheen teenager settled on BJJ as the art he most enjoys because of its lack of formality and the fun way it is taught. Billy is very grateful to his main instructor Alain Pozo and other coaches Dickie Martin and André Pimenta for their time and dedication.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
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The UKBJJA (www.ukbjja.org) is a not-for profit organisation which aims to provide a governance structure for the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, that promotes and develops the sport while allowing individual clubs and practitioners the space and freedom to practice the martial art in the way they enjoy. The UKBJJA is currently under assessment to be recognised by Sport England as the governing body for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the UK.
The UKBJJA was formed in 2013, and the association’s goal is to foster the development of BJJ at elite, community and grassroots levels, raising the profile of the sport but also providing pathways for development and involvement across communities in the UK. Visit UKBJJA at www.ukbjja.org or follow us on Twitter @ukbjja.