Six years and a shoebox full of medals later, Jamie Jaja is ready to go global with the skills and focus that have earned him three consecutive international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu titles.
The Marist College Kogarah Year 11 student held the international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Pan Pacific Championship Oceania open weight title in 2018 for a third consecutive year.
He will head to Abu Dhabi in April to compete in the 2019 Jiu-Jitsu World Championships.
It’s all about having a clear goal.
Jamie’s foray into martial arts began with Tae Kwon Do at age five. The 15 year-old blue belt now competes in Jiu-Jitsu in the open weight division, often against opponents up to 25 kilos heavier than himself. He has also held the IBJJF Australian National title for the past two years.
With supportive parents and a martial arts-loving father and brother to train with, competitions become a family outing.
“For me, the reward is not the medal, it’s the day,” Jamie said.
“The day is amazing. We spend it as a family, have breakfast together and then go to the competition.
“Even though in the individual fights it’s just one person, we work together and we have a great time.
“I’ll have a half-hour warm up with my brother and do some jumps, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, grappling and a bit of pummelling – then the fights on. That’s when you pay attention to the person.”
Jamie’s pre-competition routine includes a six-week diet and training plan to leave him fighting fit. The mental aspect of the sport is also an important focus.
“If you’re not mentally ready on the day, there’s no point going,” he said.
“I once had a fight with a guy who was 100 kilos and at the time I was about 65 kilos. I was looking at my dad in disbelief. I thought ‘He’s going to crush me, I’m going to lose’.
“Dad said to me ‘If you think you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose’. So I stepped onto the mats after six weeks of working on cardio and technique, and I took him down. The fight was over within a couple of minutes.
“It’s all about having a clear goal.”