Local jiu-jitsu gym leader Luke Harris brought back a gold medal and a Number 2 world ranking from the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Las Vegas last week.
The event, which boasted over 7,000 competitors, saw Harris win his age group's super heavyweight black belt division. Harris defeated Brazilian Cristiano Ribeiro da Costa in the championship match.
It was a tough fight that saw da Costa give Harris all that he could handle, but it was the St. Albertan who came out on top with a specific move.
“He was very good,” said Harris about da Costa. “We were on opposites of the bracket and we both defeated all our opponents en route to the final.”
“In our match, I was able to throw him with a technique called ‘uchi mata,’ a judo throw. I scored with that and won via points.”
The gold medal marks the second time in two months that Harris has achieved acclaim at the international level. In October, Harris captured a silver medal in the super heavyweight division at the World No-Gi Championships and a gold medal in the open division as well.
The gold wasn’t the only thing that Harris brought home from Vegas. On top of that, he took home a world Number 2 ranking in his age group.
Harris says the results from the tournament are a testament to the work he has put in.
“It’s incredible, as long as I have been doing jiu-jitsu I have been working toward this,” said Harris. “In 20-plus years this is the first time I have won the World Masters Championships and for me, I run a school [in St. Albert] so it’s a big deal for me but also a bigger deal to show my students what you can achieve when you really put everything into something.”
The Hayabusa Training Centre, which Harris founded and operates here in St. Albert has had a massive impact on his jiu-jitsu success. He says the family-oriented atmosphere at Hayabusa motivates him in events like the Masters.
“We have great people around and that is one of the big things,” said Harris. “We train hard and we have a lot of people with similar goals, so we’re a very family-oriented place but we work hard and train hard.”
Outside of Harris’s success on the world stage, there has also been an increase in local interest in the sport as well. The Hayabusa Training Centre has noticed attendance at their courses has steadily increased. They even had enough people to host a full-blown tournament at Hayabusa last Saturday.
“I think jiu-jitsu is growing like crazy,” said Harris. “I run an organized tournament called ‘True North Grappling’ and we are seeing more and more people join jiu-jitsu.”
“The cool thing about jiu-jitsu is that it’s a sport that you can compete in but it can also give you real-life self-defence skills.”
The results are amazing for Harris and he is obviously very proud of how far he has come. Yet, in the end, the thing that keeps him driving to become the best he can be has always been his love of the sport.
“I think when you really love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work and that’s one of the nicest things about it.”