Local eyes gold in Jiu-Jitsu debut

Penticton mixed martial arts fighters to compete in Western Canadian Brazilian championship

Mitchell Burke

Mitchell Burke

A day after he turns 25 Mitchell Burke is hoping to win two gold birthday presents.

Burke, a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who has been training at Pacific Top Team (PTT) Martial Arts Penticton for the last two years, has a very specific point of focus heading into the Western Canadian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships at the South Okanagan Events Centre July 4.

“Getting two gold medals,” Burke said.

The tournament, which draws competitors from around Alberta, B.C. and Washington State is the first Jiu-Jitsu tournament for Burke.

While it’s his first time hitting the mat for PTT, Jiu-Jitsu is nothing new to him as he’s been training five days a week.

“Mitch trains a lot, he fights MMA a lot, this is going to be his first Jiu-Jitsu tournament and he is in a really big division as well, so we’re hoping that’s going to work out well for him,” said Jacob Gardhouse, program co-ordinator at PTT Martial Arts Penticton.

Burke will be taking on both the gi and no-gi divisions in the middleweight category, which ranges from 170 to 180 pounds.

Competing with or without a gi becomes a big factor in the strategy of a match-up.

“In gi, you can grab the gi anywhere you want, use it to your advantage or disadvantage, it’s a little bit slower because people can grab on and stop you,” Burke said.

Burke said he prefers no-gi, something he’s used to from his MMA background.

“The no-gi is a little faster, a little faster pace, a little more slippery. You can slide out of things a lot easier, it’s harder to take people down and a lot harder to keep them down,” Burke said. “I prefer no-gi because in MMA you don’t wear gis. It’s a way easier transition.”

Pacific Top Team has around 70 members, with over 10 competitors of multiple ages and divisions heading into the tournament Saturday.

Staying fit both mentally and physically is at the top of the list as Gardhouse gets his competitors ready.

“We focus on a lot of cardio, going over the rules and ways to win using the rules,” Gardhouse said. “A lot about points because the way you can win is by points if you don’t get a submission. The rules are the biggest part. You have to know how to manipulate rules and get points for certain things.”

The tournament will host hundreds of competitors and encompasses kids to adults and all levels of skill.

The Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu club in Penticton is also putting forward three adults and four kids into the tournament.

Owner and head instructor for Carlson, Erik Lund said blue belt Egzon Emini is doing well coming off a gold medal performance at the provincial championships in Abbotsford.

“I’m looking for a strong performance from him,” Lund said.

For Burke, while he’s eyeing up two gold medals,  it’s mostly about staying fit.

“I like the training aspect of it, I like the lifestyle, the dieting, the constant work, the training,” Burke said. “Anything to stay active, fit and out of trouble is pretty much why I’m here.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and children 13 to 18 and a second parent are $5. Seniors and children 12 and under are free.