Pemberton fighters earn silver at Vancouver Jiu-Jitsu tournament

Pemberton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club aims to spread ‘the gentle art’ across the corridor

Two Pemberton-based fighters are celebrating the medals they earned at the Copa Katana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, held at the Richmond Olympic Oval on April 15.

While six athletes who train under professor Marco Vieira’s instruction as part of the Pemberton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club competed at the tournament, Kengo Hatanaka and Adam Colpitts were the sole two fighters to end the weekend with a medal. Both of them took home the silver medal for their respective divisions.

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Hatanaka, facing nine other competitors in the adult white belt feather weight division, won his first fight by an arm bar maneuver as a result of a triangle set up. He went on to win his second match by triangle choke before losing by a matter of points in the third match.

Fellow silver medallist, Colpitts, faced a smaller depth of competitors in his four-person masters purple belt super heavyweight division bracket. While he won his first fight by a paper cutter choke, he lost the gold medal match by an advantage point when the score totaled 0-0.

(“An ‘Advantage’ is an ‘almost,’ as in ‘one competitor almost passed the other’s guard, almost swept the other or almost submitted the other,’” according to Jiu-Jitsu magazine. “For all intents and purposes, advantages are subjective and put in place to prevent overtimes. They are, fundamentally, a momentary referee’s decision.”)

“(That) really sucked,” said Colpitts with a laugh. “But we never lose in jiu-jitsu. We always learn, we say. It was just a chance to test ourselves and see where our own skills are at against people we don’t know. It’s a little different than when we roll in the club. As far as the results of the tournament, I think we were super happy with that.”

The Pemberton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, established in November 2015 by lead instructor Vieira, runs out of the Pemberton Community Centre, with classes taking place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 p.m.

To date, the club has grown to see an upwards of 30 adults and 20 kids regularly coming out to learn new skills and practice their tactics at training sessions, said Colpitts, who helps coach with the club.

“It’s a really great atmosphere,” Colpitts said. “It brings quite a bit to the community. It really encourages self-confidence and also self-awareness. It’s an interesting dynamic, because normally in our social lives we’re not really in contact with people, so that dynamic of rolling and being in close quarters really helps people find themselves and that leads to all kinds of confidence and all-around positive attitudes.”

Colpitts, who has been practicing the martial art for about five years ago, even had the opportunity to compete at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s World Championships in Las Vegas after qualifying for the Canadian team in 2014.

But in Pemberton, everyone, regardless of age, skill level or whether or not they have a martial arts background is welcome to join, Colpitts added.
“Jiu-Jitsu is the gentle art,” he said. “It’s Jiu-Jitsu for everyone; we want to try to spread this art across the entire corridor.”

To inquire about a free drop-in trial class, check out the club’s Facebook page at

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