Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu national competition embraced by Māori

By Tamati Tiananga

Māori have found a spiritual bond with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu says black belt Pina Simpson.

This weekend, the second Māori National Competition will be held on the East Coast, which is embraced by Māori. 

Māori are skilled fighters in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Heywood Kuka says, “It's in the blood, like our Māori gods and land battles.  The skills needed for this art form are in our blood.”

As it's the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, the event is commemorating Māori soldiers including the Pioneer Battalion of WWI and the 28th Māori Battalion of WWII.

Kuka says, “It's a very good idea to bring this sport from overseas to New Zealand.  I hope we can incorporate the old ways of Māori, like the ground work and wrestling into the sport.”

Sonny Te Wao says, “Like having pioneers like Pina leading the way, it kind of sets the platform for all the other Māori guys.  If they do well here they are representing us as a culture.”

Recently, the National New Zealand Grapplers competition was held.  MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxer Sonny Te Wao of Tainui says the focus is for Māori by Māori.

Te Wao says, “It's just setting an example for the guys.  I am a father of two and if I can do all these things I want them to do better.”

Pina Simpson says, “Everybody starts the match with a hongi and ended with a hongi and the wairua was mean.”

The first event was held in Taranaki last year.  This weekend, it'll be in Gisborne, next year, it'll be held in Rotorua.