Train hard, but always have fun!Paul’s Motto on how to train

Paul Grant, 8th Dan Traditional Jujitsu, Sport Jujitsu, is the GB Team Head Coach, who was appointed in 2004 and has had a continuous active international fight career spanning 35 years.

Today we look back over his journey as we say goodbye as he has stepped down as ‘Head Coach’ for the GB Squad.

Due to various factors, Paul has taken the difficult decision to step down as head coach, and we’d like to reflect on what he has done and achieved over a wonderful 35 years in the business…

It was at the age of 10, Paul saw Judo being practised at his local sports centre but family circumstances at the time meant he never got the opportunity to try it.

In 1981, at age 17, Paul was working in a Joinery business in Yorkshire, and one of the other apprentices invited him along to a local martial arts club run by brothers Sensei’s Tom and Steve Mullins… that is where his martial arts journey began.

Tom Mullins, who was the first appointed GB Sports Jujitsu Coach, was Paul’s coach and mentor for over 20 years. Tom did not grade his pupils very often and expected commitment and hard work to receive a belt, so it took 7 years for Paul to receive his 1st Dan black belt in Jujitsu.

In the 1980s and 1990s (age 17- 37) Paul would train almost every night of the week, in a variety of disciplines – Sport Jujitsu, Traditional Jujitsu, Brazilian Jujitsu, Karate, Judo, Taekwondo, MMA, Thai Boxing, Kick boxing and Aikido. He loved the learning involved and sparring with different people. Paul has always said you can never know enough and it’s important to keep your mind open to learning from a range of people, from the new pupil through to the seasoned master. He said, back in the 80s/90s, they would even train at each other’s houses, as there wasn’t the variety of martial arts venues and training facilities there are nowadays. Paul recalls how a few of them would get on their motorbikes and travel to the coast to do kick boxing drills whilst battling against the waves, or practising judo techniques in the woods where they would hide to surprise their opponent to make training more realistic and learn techniques that can be used in a real-life situation.

His first ever martial arts competition was in 1982, age 18, in Karate in the Yorkshire town of Halifax, where he won a Bronze medal, and then later on received a Silver in the next Karate competition in Bradford. Paul reflected that in those days there weren’t many martial arts competitions around apart from inter-club fighting competitions.

Over his competition career, Paul has fought Internationally for the GB Sport Jujitsu Squad for the last 35 years, and is still an active competitor. He has competed in New Zealand, Australia (Brisbane x 2), USA (Reno, Las Vegas, Florida, North Carolina), Canada (Toronto and Vancouver), Switzerland (Geneva x 2), France, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Channel Islands and Greece.

There are a few different Sport Jujitsu affiliations around the world, all with different rules, and Paul has competed in all of them in his 35 year fight career – WCJJO, JJIF, ISJA and WSJO. He has also fought in numerous inter-club, National and 4 Nations tournaments in not just Sport Jujitsu but also in some of the other martial arts disciplines he has trained in.

List of some of the Sport Jujitsu World Champion Events competed in –

1984 – Ontario WCJJO – no medals won

1988 – Brisbane WCJJO – Silver Team event

1986 – London WCJJO – no medals won

1990 North Carolina WCJJO – Silver Individual Light Heavy weight

1992 Argentina WCJJO – Silver Team event, Silver Individual Light Heavy weight

1995 Auckland WCJJO – Gold Team event

1997 Berlin – JJIF – No medals won

1998 Reno WCJJO – Gold Team event

1999 Leeds – ISJA – Gold Individual Light Heavy Weight

2000 Leeds ISJA – Gold Individual Light Heavy weight, Silver Team event

2001 Jersey WCJJO – Gold Individual Light Heavy weight, Gold Team event

2004 Canada WCJJO – Silver Individual Light Heavy weight, Bronze Team event and Bronze Masters Heavy Weight

2007 Jersey WCJJO – Gold Individual Middle weight

2010 Las Vegas WCJJO – Gold Individual Middle weight, Silver Masters Lightweight, Bronze Team event

2013 Andover WCJJO – Gold Team event, Gold Masters individual Middle weight and Bronze in the Masters Super Heavy weight

2013 Poland WSJO – Gold Masters individual Middle weight

2015 Geneva WCJJO – Gold Masters individual Middle weight & Bronze Team event

2017 Brisbane WCJJO – (did not compete – coached only – recent surgery)

2019 Florida WCJJO – Gold Masters individual Middle weight, Bronze Team event.

Paul also got an award for being the longest-serving – 35 years! – competitive fighter in the WCJJO/AMA Championships.  At this event, Paul was age 55 and was also the oldest competitor in the Florida World Championships and fought against men 15 years younger than himself in the Masters division, which is anyone over age 40.

At the Florida WCJJO championships, Paul appointed Michelle Holt, who has been fighting with the GB Sport Jujitsu Squad for over 20 years, his Deputy Head Coach. As far as we are aware, Michelle is the first female Head Coach of a Sport Jujitsu National Squad.

Like with many fighters, injuries are common place, some you can train through and some not. One thing Paul remembers making a big mistake with is trying to compete whilst he had a virus. Not a good idea as he found out, and became more ill.

 In 1999 he had a bad motorbike accident and required surgery and I was unable to train for a year due to all the injuries and wondered if he would get back to competing again. That is how he met his wife, Louise. She was appointed by the Head Coach Tom Mullins and Team Director Chris Buckle as the GB Team Physio and was told to concentrate on the younger squad members and not the old injured ones who ‘had had their day’ meaning Paul. However, she did treat Paul and helped him get back to training and competing again. They married in 2003….and Paul thought he would be having unlimited physio, but was wrong…. Louise made him pay to see her business partner at their clinic and told him it’s unethical to treat your family! Louise, has been the Squad Physio since 1999 is also part of the Squad family, looking after the fighters and using her vast experience to advise on injury management.

In 2004, Tom Mullins retired as Head Coach and Paul was appointed in his place by Colin Whittaker (President of the AMA) and Chris Buckle (GB Team Manager). Paul was always used to be ‘one of the fighters’ and was unsure about the role so he asked if his long-standing training partner and friend, Michael Howe could coach the squad with him. Mick and Paul did this together for 5 years and then Mick went onto other ventures.

Paul says ‘The Squad is like a family of fighters, supporting each other and having fun. Some dip in and dip out, some have been part of things constantly for many years, some retire and some go onto to do other things. What’s great is the majority still keep in touch, even when they aren’t competing anymore. We’ve always been a friendly team, treating each other with understanding, kindness and respect.’ Paul is very grateful to so many people that have helped him over the years, the list is endless.

He is and always will be, a kind, humble man (who is not good at talking about himself, and so writing this is out of character for him) who is the spirit of ‘True Budo.’

THANK YOU PAUL

Paul, a personal note from all of us at Great Britain Jujitsu. You are forever in our squad, and we will still turn to you for help and support for 2 reasons:

1) We don’t know who else to turn to!

and

2) Because you are, and always will be, a dear friend, to the whole team.

You have been consistent in your teaching and coaching; you have been a friend when we needed it; you have been our laugh when we needed it. We look forward to sharing the mats with you for another 30 years to come and wish you every success in everything that you do – you absolute ledge you!

By adam phillips

Adam is one of the Directors for Great Britain Jujitsu. Winner of several AMA Sports Jujitsu and Grappling National tournaments and has represented the GB Squad 2 times, winning 3 world WCJJO Silver medals and 4 WCJJO Bronze.

One thought on “Paul Grant – Head Coach for GB Squad Says Goodbye”
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