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Doing the groundwork for global success

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Doing the groundwork for global success

A young Caloundra martial arts champion is set to compete at the upcoming world championship. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

He is an Australian champion at just 16 years of age and now Travis Morgan is ready to take on the international stage.

The Caloundra teenager is a six-time gold medal winner across a raft of events within the Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) world, including at the 2023 national championships last August.

This weekend, Travis will compete in the United States at the 2024 IBJJF World Championship – the largest and most-competitive BJJ tournament in the world.

BJJ is a self-defence martial art and combat sport based on grappling and ground fighting.

Different to ‘striking’ martial arts, no kicking or punching is involved in BJJ.

Instead, it focuses on getting an opponent to the ground in order to neutralise possible strength or size advantages through ground-fighting techniques.

Like other martial arts, BJJ has a ranking system and awards a person different coloured belts to signify increasing levels of technical knowledge and practical skill.

Travis is at a blue belt level and will compete in his division in the 58.5kg weight class at the championships, which are on from May 29 to June 2 at Long Beach, California.

Travis only began the sport two years ago at SJJA Caloundra and says he will be excited to see the best of the best compete in California.

He says to be competing is “mind blowing”.

“I started two years ago and since then, I have been training as much as I can every day,” he says.

“Competing at the world championship has been my biggest dream since I started my jiu-jitsu journey and it’s a dream come true that I will be competing this year.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to test myself against the best in the world and see how far I can go in the sport.”

The young athlete is now a coach himself, passionate about sharing his love of the sport with other students and diligently managing his Year 11 studies at school.

“For me to train, I’ll either train in the morning at 6am at jiu-jitsu then go to school, or I’ll go and train in a weights gym.

“Then after school, I come straight to (SJJA Caloundra) and teach ’til about 7pm.”

Travis’s coach Maverick Santos is an experienced BJJ athlete himself, with 17 years’ experience.

Competing at the same event in California more than a decade ago, he is looking forward to returning in a coaching capacity.

“The same competition Travis is going to, I went to 11 years ago as a competitor and now I’m going back as a coach, which is a very special moment to myself,” he says.

“Having the opportunity to take my student and be back there coaching and helping him make his dream come true is very rewarding.”

Santos came to Australia from Brazil in 2019 to help his close friend, fellow BJJ champion and SJJA founder Bruno Almeida Alves.

With SJJA gyms in New South Wales, Alves wanted to expand into Queensland. So, Santos opened SJJA Caloundra, and later SJJA Kawana.

“Within our first year, we had reached 100 students,” Santos says.

“Nowadays we have two facilities that run six days a week and we are teaching over 250 students.

“The gym we have is a very family-friendly gym and we’ve created a community.”

Santos says 70 per cent of his students are children, and they all look up to coach Travis: “He has become a real role model.”

Travis is set to begin competing from Friday, May 31.

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