BJJ in the UK has certainly developed at a fast rate. One just needs to listen to The Raspberry Ape podcast with the host Daniel Strauss and his UK BJJ Pioneer guests to understand just how difficult it was to train the grappling art in this country. As affiliations and small seminars happened in the UK so did the development of talent. It went from the stages of having Blue belts coaching the classes to now there being a few black belts in every city. From classes being like that not too long ago to have some of the talents in the country that we have now such as Daniel Strauss, Ashley Williams, Ross Nicholls, Sam Cook and the Welsh grappling sensation Ffion Davies.
Ffion Davies originally trained Judo and had success at it but eventually transitioned to MMA winning 3 amateur fights and 1 professional fight, unsurprisingly winning all four fights by first round submission. Originally training at the Chris Rees Academy in Swansea she made the transition and started training under Darragh O’Conaill at East Coast BJJ in Dublin. Whilst training here she was able to achieve many high achievements in BJJ such as the IBJJF World NoGi at Brown belt and found herself promoted to Black belt in November of 2018, since then she has gone on to win the IBJJF World NoGi Championships at Black Belt. Recently competing on Polaris, she ran through Gezary Matuda, a solid Black Belt in her own right in under 5 minutes. How does one follow up on this? Davies won the Pan Americans this month. ADCC European Trials was also won by her, simply put she is dominating her competition and appears to be a legitimate threat to win ADCC Gold this year in a very solid bracket.
When considering the talent in grappling development in the UK one just needs to look at the success of Ffion Davies to realise that we are not only just developing, but we also have many legitimate threats on the rise such as Taylor Pearman, River Dillon and Shay Montague, both performing well at the lower belts who are likely going to be renowned talent at black belt level. Shows like GrappleFest and Polaris are great shows that highlight the developing talent of the UK that highlight we are very much a threat in world competition in NoGi.