Anyone who visited the Valley Leisure Centre last Saturday or Sunday would no doubt have noticed the many hundreds of martial arts practitioners in the building over the past weekend.

Saturday saw a charity instructional seminar organised by the NI Region of the UK Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Ross attended to see the world’s fastest-growing martial art in the last 20 years, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) up close and personal at the charity event organised by Northern Ireland Regional Director and local black belt, Robert Cullinan.

"Saturday saw more than 150 children and adults, representing 14 different local clubs, coming together for a high level, instructional skills seminar, given by visiting coaches from Brazil, Scotland and NI," he said.

"Voluntary donations from those attending totalled £600 on the day, for the Ukrainian Refugee Red Cross Appeal with all monies raised passed onto the Charity Appeal.

"Those who turned up today got to train with some of the highest level practitioners of BJJ in Europe today, and made a few new friends in the process – so everyone wins with an event like this; the wider Jiu-Jitsu community and the people of Ukraine." 

Local clubs helping in this initiative included Merville Jiu-Jitsu Club, Grove Jiu-Jitsu Academy and RMNU Mallusk, as well as participants from all areas of The North

"I was delighted to see the partnership of Council with the National Governing Body for Jiu-Jitsu, and encourage the development of future similar initiatives over future years in the Borough," said Deputy Mayor Stephen Ross.

"These clubs all demonstrate best practice systems for safeguarding and management, and can provide a healthy exercise lifestyle through the dedicated practice of combat sport."