NEWPORT — Two local martial artists emerged as winners of a Jiu-Jitsu championship held Nov. 2-3 at a rough-and-tumble fight academy where students learn the disabling arts of grappling, strangulation and joint distress.
The World Series of Jiu-Jitsu Oregon Championship drew more than 90 contestants from around the northwest to the Tsunami Training Center, a sprawling, 2,000-square-foot gym in north Newport lined with punching bags and padded mats to break falls.
The event pitted like-colored belts in men’s, women’s and children’s categories. The ages of the fighters ranged from eight to 60-plus, with weight divisions from 80 pounds to 275 pounds. Among the winners were two Newport martial artists, white-belt fighter J.D. Watson, who earned $500 in prize money, and blue-belt contestant Kyle Bridges, who collected $300.
Watson, at 155 pounds, a scholar at Oregon Coast Community College who recently earned a scholarship from NASA, submitted three opponents to win his division. Bridges, a firefighter and paramedic who weighed in at 205 pounds, defeated a 270-pound opponent to win the heavyweight division.
“Our guys both won with arm bars, the same move we’d spent all week working on,” beamed gym owner and black-belt instructor Nathan Wallner, who holds classes for children and adult five days a week, as well as a fitness boot camp.
Wallner described Jiu-Jitsu as a combination of wrestling and judo that employs “a mastery of the mechanisms of the human body” to disable opponents without striking kicks or punches.
“You utilize the momentum and inertia of the body in the heat of battle to stop the air to the brain and lungs and hyperextend anything on the body,” Wallner said of the graceful but formidable martial art. “Joints are fair game from the toes to the neck, and your blood and air are under constant attack.”
Wallner said the tournament was a milestone for the year-old gym that puts the state-of-the-art-facility, and Newport, on the martial arts map.
“It was a fantastic weekend,” concluded Wallner, who said the prize purse exceeded $9,000. “Nothing like this has ever happened before at the coast. We plan to do this regularly, with three or four tournaments a year.”
For more information about the event or training at Tsunami Training Center, visit the website at tsunamitc.com.