North East Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Scene in 2019

In recent times the North East Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scene could hardly be stronger. There are bona fide black belts in every major town, Seminars from world class coaches such as Leo Negao, Roger Gracie and Alexandre “Gigi” Paiva come regularly to North East cities like Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.

The region now has multiple schools with representation of worldwide networks such as Maurico Gomez’s Origin BJJ, Checkmat (The Dungeon, Sunderland), Stealth BJJ, Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet, Alliance Jiu Jitsu, Crezio De Souza’s Itaipava Jiu Jitsu and Combat Base founded in Northumberland by second degree black belt, Steve Muckle

Events in the North East include the VERSUS grappling Newcastle Open, Grapple for Glory by the M4TC team, Sub 15 in Middlesbrough.

There are over the counter stores such as Fight Store Pro Team Valley (Or the online BJJ Gi & Fighter gear store where you can buy a BJJ kimono from some of the world’s leading brands such as Fuji, Venum and Revgear.

Simply put the North East of England has a thriving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scene…But as little as a decade ago this was not the case.

BJJ Culture North East Style

You would hardly think the beach culture of Rio De Janeiro or Huntington Beach CA would align with the cold climate of the North East but with a growing MMA scene, Newcastle, Sunderland and Teeside all with their own spectacular coast lines found a love for BJJ in the same way that surfing emerging as a sport in the North East Town of Tynemouth. 

The growing hip passion for Mediterranean coffee culture mixed with the love of a good fight has more in common with the Brazilian mentality than you might think and over time BJJ has become very much its own entity, both globally and in the North East of England.

If you mix a passionate people, a love of good food and coffee with a relaxed beach lifestyle you’ll find it just as easily on the cold beaches of Roker, Blyth and Tynemouth Long sands as the more tropical Ipanema and Huntington. Just don’t forget a thick lined Sherpa or hoody!


In 2000 there was pretty much no Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the North East. The Brazilians who arrived from places like Rio and Sao Paulo’s Jiu Jitsu heart naturally gravitated to London initially and the UFC was only just beginning to be heard of in the United Kingdom.

Although there may have  undoubtedly were others around who had BJJ skills there is little doubt that two men largely brought BJJ to the North East of England.

Geordie Dave “Speedy” Elliot was the MMA star of London’s Royce Gracie Academy under Marc Walder, later to switch to Gracie Barra Newcastle. Having been a Japanese Ju Jitsu practitioner of many years and a freestyle kickboxer, Dave quickly adapted to the ground based BJJ game.

With the strength in depth of Marc Walder, Mauricio Gomez, Roger Gracie and more behind him, Dave built a team from nothing in the back room of Wallsend Boys club.

A fierce MMA & BJJ competitor himself, Dave grew a small band of lions who all went on to build their own names in the sport. Peter Irving (BJJ black belt, Newcastle Fight Centre) who himself became instrumental in the development of the sport in the North East, Peter Tiarks (Cage Rage Champion), Gavin Bradley (RIP) fought on many of the top PRO MMA shows in the UK, Ian Malone (BJJ Black Belt, Origin BJJ Newcastle, Versus Grappling) Brian Blewitt (one of the first MMA competitors of the region), Alex Wright (Cyclone Martial Arts, MMA Competitor and founder of Fightstorepro, Revgear Europe)

Dave Elliot’s son, Tyrone Elliot who was eight years old at the time has become a national level BJJ competitor and now teaches across the region.

From around 2004, lifelong martial artist Aaron Naisbet was developing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the neighbouring city of Sunderland. The Dungeon BJJ is affiliated to the world famous Leo and Ricardo Vieira brothers, founders of the Checkmat association, The Dungeon indeed representing Checkmat in the North East of England. Building a highly successful team, Aaron has also been instrumental in the now thriving BJJ scene in the North East.

An honourable mention must also go to Steve Muckle of Combat Base who has maintained an excellent group in Northumberland for as long as BJJ has been in the North East.