Long Beach battles await for Jiu Jitsu kids

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John Slinger, Ruben Dougherty, Ruben Kenny and Shea Williams- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu © Ryan Dougherty

They may be small in stature but these young martial arts stars certainly know how to look after themselves, and their skills have earned them a trip to California.

Four children from Merseyside have been invited to take part in an international Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) tournament hosted in Long Beach.

The boys will represent the UK Elite Squad at the Pan Kids IBJJF Championship when it kicks-off on February 19th.

The tournament is the most competitive the children are able to compete in and will allow young fighters Ruben Dougherty, 6, Ruben Kenny, 7, Shea Williams, 7, and John Slinger, 14, to face the best Jiu Jitsu talent from across the globe.

Kirkdale-born, Ruben Dougherty, has won two gold medals and a belt during the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) Championship in Ireland last September. He is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu National Champion and won gold in the British Open.

Ruben Kenny, despite being in the sport for a relatively short time, has won gold in competitions up and down the country. The Everton native is known as ‘The Crusher’ within his club.

Shea has an incredibly consistent record in BJJ  as the youngster has won gold in every competition he has ever fought. He is British No Gi, English and European Champion. The fighter from St Helens has fought in three mixed martial arts club competitions, came second in a German wrestling competition and brought home two golds from the Irish NAGA tournament.

YouTube: IBJJF 2016 tournament highlights

The eldest, John, also won gold at NAGA and he has also competed at national level in Europe. The younger boys all train at Next Generation Wirral Martial Arts, while John trains at the Jason Tan MMA Academy.

Ruben’s father, Ryan Dougherty, 37, told JMU Journalism: “The championships mean everything to these kids, they really do train extremely hard. This is solely classed as the biggest kids BJJ competition in the world and the biggest they have ever competed in.

“I don’t think they even realise how much of an achievement it is to go and compete with the best kids in the world. The kids are very excited and hopefully they can bring home some medals and make everyone in the city proud.”

About Andrew Cook, JMU Journalism