Gracie Invitational European BJJ Tournament
Seni Birmingham April 2004
Emma and Pat Baker with Mauricio Gomes

Combat Academy instructor Dave Coles made the relatively short journey up the M5 to compete in the Gracie Invitational European Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

Event report by Carl Fisher 24 April 2004

Brazil has the Mundials, the US has the Pan-Ams and now the UK has a BJJ event that stands head and shoulders with the big guns - The Gracie Invitational. The competition started in 2003 and was part of the SENI 03 event, the UK's largest martial arts and trade exhibition weekend in the UK calendar. With the success of SENI 03, brown belt Marc Walder, together with an army of helpers too numerous to mention (you know who you are) and sponsored by Evolution Fightwear, organised what must be the biggest BJJ event ever to be held in the UK.

The event attracted over 200 entrants, with a large scale GBUK presence, as well as Rio Grappling Club, Ze Marcello, SBG, Master Alliance, Hull Sport JJ and Saints BJJ; the event even attracted students from foreign soil with GB Lisbon and Renzo Gracie Israel stepping up to the centre of the mats. In addition to the competitors, the event had caught the eye of Onthemat roving reporter Gumby, who was on his first ever European tour and hitched a lift up to the event with Marc and crew to cover the event for their website. Referees included Roger Gracie, Roger Brooking and purple belt Neil Owen, who recently took silver at Pan Ams; team mate Chris Ollerton reached the quarter finals round of the masters blue belt heavy division in only his second competition  well done! Mauricao Gomes was also in attendance to give support to the fighters and soak up the fun and games.

The event was held under strict CBJJ rules, which demanded a weigh in before the first match and instant disqualification if the competitor failed to make the weight; from then on the fighter was free from any more weigh ins. Organiser Marc Walder went to great pains to ensure a true copy of the BJJ events in Brazil and to get everyone to toe the line and this area was strictly adhered to throughout the day. The fighters were split up into adults and masters and the event had four mats on the go; held in a massive hangar style area at the NEC complex in Birmingham, the day began with the white belts.

Feather weight fighter Silvio Figueira from Ze Marcello stormed his way through his matches to take first place in his division, whilst the lightweight division's placings were all taken up by GBUK fighters; Ben Mallows of SBG dominated his weight class en route to an impressive first place in the middle heavy weight division. In the Masters division Hull Sport JJ's head coach, Mel Leathley, led by example and took the first place in the middle heavy division; in the women's division there were no opponent's for Mel's female fighters and so all three fighters shared first second and third after fighting each other. If there are any female fighters out there get in touch, as Mel's girls are tired of fighting each other! Shouts also go out to the young GBUK fighters, Samad Mohamed, Ricky Turner and Tyrone Elliot who all won their categories  fighters of the future.

Time for the blue belts adults and in the feather division two fighters stood out from the rest of the pack, Ze Marcello's Danny Batten and Saints BJJ's Steve Heyes; Heyes swiftly despatched his opponents en route to face Batten in the finals and was neck and neck all the way and ended up with Batten the champion on points. The middle heavy and heavyweight division was dominated by GBUK fighters with Anthony Rode taking the middle heavy top spot and Shane Smith the heavy weight. Rode went on to the finals of the blue belt Absolute and lost to Ze Marcello's Enrique Santana.

In the Masters, the feather weight fighters thrilled the crowd with fast paced action all the way, with subs and sweeps coming thick and fast and ended up with Rob Lawlor at the top spot and GBUK fighters Mick Shore and Chris Brown second and third respectively. Heavy weight Dave Coles (GBUK) dominated his division and had some hard matches on the way to the top and Renzo Gracie Israel's Haim Gozali gave a good account of himself, finishing third, whilst the Open weight top spot went to Dickie Martin.

Now it was time for the purple belts, with all eyes again on GB Brum's mega talented Glen Brodrick to see if he could cut the mustard in this tough division; Glen whipped the crowds up in his first fight, winning easily and had the whole arena shouting and screaming their support in the finals of the +75, where he faced the highly skilled Sergio Lopes from GB Lisbon, with Glen pulling out all the stops to win the match. After a brief rest, Brodrick entered the Absolute division and once more had to draw on all his reserves of strength, technique and heart to beat his opponent's and take the top spot again, after a thrilling fight against another tough GB Lisbon fighter Ricardo Pereira.

GBUK brown belt Jude Samuels was due to fight an opponent from Rio Grappling Club but he failed to show leaving him winner by default and the crowds were deprived of one of the UK's first ever brown belt match  let's hope we see him in action soon.

All the fighters that took part are to be congratulated on their skill levels and sportsmanship, win or lose, as well as sporting some eye catching red and purple gi's; the event arena also played host to self defence seminars as well as a martial arts demo, conducted by men in what can be only be described as parachute outfits! The Invitational was a great success for all concerned and I'm sure Marc and his team will be hard at work in preparing for SENI 05 and firmly cementing the UK as a tournament hot spot.


White Belt Adult

Super Feather 64kg

1st Spencer Hewitt GB UK

2nd Ian Malone Ze Marcello

3rd Mumtaz-Ur Rahman Luiz Tosta Rio Grappling Club

Feather 70kg

1st Silvio Figueira Ze Marcello

2nd Steve Challener GB UK

3rd Stephen Newlove Hessle JJ

Light 76kg

1st Jason Ball GB UK

2nd Gareth Neale GB UK

3rd Alan Edmondson GB UK

Middle 82.30 kg

1st Tim Radcliff Ricardo De Silva

2nd Chris Wells Master/Alliance

3rd William Meehan

Middle Heavy 88.30kg

1st Ben Mallows SBG

2nd Sam Bradley GB UK

3rd Steven May GB UK

Heavy 94.30kg

1st Ian Elliott Rickson UK

2nd Rich Cody GB UK

3rd Aaron Goodman GB UK

Super Heavy 100.50kg

1st Ross Point GB UK

2nd Sam Howey Master/Alliance

3rd Matt Diment Hull Sport JJ

Super Super Heavy 100.50kg+

1st Gregg Rogers GB UK

2nd Mark Bottom GB UK

White Belt Master

Feather 64 kg

1st Jim Kiely GB UK

2nd Ben Jones Ze Marcello

3rd Adrian Clarke Extreme JJ

Middle Heavy 88.30 kg

1st Mel Leathley Hull Sport JJ

2nd David Iverson GB UK

3rd Mark Semmens GB UK

Heavy 94.30 kg

1st Michael Pascal GB UK

2nd John Ward GB UK

3rd Karl Anderson Tony Bebbington JJ

Juvenile Light

1st Samad Mohammed GB UK

2nd Rafael Tomarkin GB UK

Juvenile Heavy

1st Ricky Turner GB UK

2nd Anthony Griffin Tony Bebbington JJ


1st Tyrone Elliot GB UK

2nd Callum Clarke


1st Melissa Leathley Hull Sport JJ

2nd Maria Hildyard Hull Sport JJ

3rd Mandpreet Sangha Hull Sport JJ

Blue Belt Adults

Feather 70 kg

1st Danny Batten Ze Marcello

2nd Steven Heyes St Helens BJJ

3rd Tim Joblin GB UK

Light 76 kg

1st Enrique Santana Ze Marcello

1st Rafael Fishett Ze Marcello

2nd Andy Roberts GB UK

Middle 82.30 kg

1st Alex C Ferviller

2nd Oliver Jones Master/Alliance

3rd Luc Lamude GB UK

Middle Heavy 88.30 kg

1st Anthony Rode GB UK

2nd Steve Brand GB UK

3rd Terry Thomas GB UK

Heavy 94.30 kg

1st Shane Smith GB UK

2nd David Fowler GB UK

3rd Kevin Vickers GB UK

Super Heavy 100.50 kg

1st Elliott Chisholm Ze Marcello

2nd Chris Eastwood SBG

3rd Andy Crittenden GB UK

Blue Belt Absolute Adult

1st Enrique Santana Ze Marcello

2nd Anthony Rode GB UK

3rd Shane Smith GB UK

Blue Belt Master


1st Rob Lawlor

2nd Mick Shore GB UK

3rd Chris Brown GB UK


1st Denis Kelly

2nd James Smart Dave Huntley JJ

3rd Chiu Kwong Man GB UK

Middle 82.30 kg

1st Steve Cowan Norfolk BJJ

2nd John Kennedy GB UK

3rd Jules Brose GB UK

Middle Heavy 88.30 kg

1st Simon Hayes

2nd Steve Finnan GB UK

3rd Anthony OHalloran Ze Marcello

Heavy 94.30 kg

1st Dave Coles GB UK

2nd Dickie Martin

3rd Haim Gozali Renzo Gracie Israel

Super Heavy 100.50 kg

1st Lee Needham GB UK

2nd George Jones GB UK

Super Super Heavy

1st Tony Bebbington Tony Bebbington JJ

2nd John Bow GB UK

Blue Belt Open Masters

1st Dickie Martin

2nd Simon Hayes

3rd George Jones GB UK

Purple Belt under 75 kg

1st Marcio Gomes GB UK

2nd Paul Bridges GB UK

3rd Ricardo Pereira GB Lisbon

Purple Belt over 75 kg

1st Glenn Brodrick GB UK

2nd Sergio Lopes GB Lisbon

3rd Marcus Silva Marcus Silva JJ

Purple Belt Absolute

1st Glenn Brodrick GB UK

2nd Ricardo Pereira GB Lisbon

3rd Sergio Lopes GB Lisbon

Brown Belt

Jude Samuel GB UK

GB UK 18 Gold, 17 Silver, 16 Bronze

Ze Marcello 6 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Hull Sport JJ 2 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze