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What started off as a new sporting hobby five years ago has become an exciting way of life for 30-year-old Fort William man Miguel Alvarez.
In July 2016, Miguel and a few of his friends responded to a request from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) enthusiast and blue belt Gareth Butterfield who was looking for training partners in Fort William.
However, before the end of the year, Miguel had not only had a go, but was good enough to compete against grapplers from across the country, representing ‘Fort BJJ’ Club.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on grappling and submission holds.
A year after helping to set up the club, Gareth left the area for a new job in Canada, but his interest in the sport continued, its running being taken over by Miguel with fellow members Eddie Lopez and Paul McGillivray.
Regular training sessions in the Nevis Centre attracted more than members and links
were forged with 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu in Glasgow which helped and advised on training.
Just two years after his first BJJ grapple, Miguel decided on a move to Glasgow, working part time to make it easier to participate in 10th Planet activities, training directly under renowned coach Steven Thompson who was the first Scot to gain a black belt from founder, American Eddie Bravo.
Miguel’s ambition is to gain his black belt and even with Covid restrictions he has advanced from white, through blue to purple belt, with only a brown to go before reaching his goal. He is now a regular and accomplished competitor in the sport with a reputation for skilfully ‘closing down’ opponents and going for submission. He is also popular on the sport’s YouTube channel.
In his most recent contest on October 9 at the Scottish Grappling Innovational
tournament, Scotland’s premiere show for Jiu Jitsu, he beat his opponent in a thrilling bout and has previously won gold medals in the Scottish Open and in Liverpool.
On November 5, Miguel is attending the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Fighting World Federation training camp in Wales which attracts some of the best BJJ athletes in the UK. He also heading to the prestigious ADCC contest in Eastern Europe next January.
He said: ‘Jiu Jitsu has become a lifestyle for me and the last five or so years have been some of my happiest, meeting some really cool people while travelling across Europe and the US learning my craft.
‘I try to visit Fort William as much as I can to not only visit family but try and keep the art alive in the town by dropping in to Fort BJJ to teach classes and help out any way I can. I would recommend Jiu Jitsu for anyone. You don’t need to be fit, tough or strong and people from all ages train, especially in the Fort BJJ, which already has two talented blue belt coaches with lots of knowledge.
‘My aim for the future is to continue training and competing until I reach black belt as that’s the main goal.’
More details on the Fort BJJ Club can be found on Facebook.
Main pic (NO_F43_Fort BJJ_Miguel Alvarez_Grapple): Miguel Alvarez, on the floor, grapples with top coach Steven Thompson when he visited Fort BJJ. Photograph: Iain Ferguson.