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Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

C4 Grappling Glen Innes coach Charlie Laidlaw has been awarded his black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ), granting him the rare achievement of having the top rank in both Judo and BJJ. 

BJJ and Judo are considered combat arts. They focus on live drills and sparring instead of katas. Due to the complexity of the training, it’s not unusual to take a decade or more before reaching black belt level. There is also an age requirement, you must be at least 19 years old to get a black belt in BJJ, while Judo requires the person to be at least 16. 

Laidlaw told the New England Times that his coach, Chris Helback, awarded him a BJJ black belt in a March ceremony at Coffs Harbour’s C4 MMA and BJJ gym. His son and fellow grappler Obian Laidlaw invited him to what he thought was a standard Saturday class, leaving him completely in the dark about what was going to happen. 

According to Laidlaw, while getting his second black belt on that specific day was unexpected, he had been working towards the “lifelong goal” for the better part of the last twenty years. 

“It was a goal of mine for many years, so it was a real thrill to finally achieve it and have all of my friends and my son there,” he said. 

“I was never focused on it, but I always knew it would happen eventually because once you fall in love with grappling, and you say to yourself, I’m never quitting this; it’s an inevitable milestone you hit sooner or later.” 

Laidlaw also has 24 years of experience in Judo, after starting in 2000 at Lismore. He received his Judo black belt in 2009. 

“For me, it’s all just one art operating along the same spectrum, BJJ is amazing, and soon after starting training you can quickly see how a little bit of knowledge goes a long way,” he said. 

“You can dominate a much larger, physically stronger opponent, as we’ve seen in the UFC for many years,” Laidlaw added. 

Along with his son Obian, Charlie frequently competes in Australian Judo events. The pair will be at the Australian National Championships in Judo on June 9.

 The father son duo are also members of the Army Reserves and the Australian Defence Force Combat Sports Association and represent the army at grappling events.

“We’ve managed to have a bit of success, I just won gold at the Melbourne International Open, and Obi won gold in his division as well,” Laidlaw said. 

“Thanks to the army, we get to travel together and compete at all these events, hopefully, we are doing them proud.” 

C4 Grappling Glen Innes Coming to the Celtic Festival for Wrestling Extravaganza

The Glen Innes BJJ gym was born in January 2023 from Laidlaw’s desire to continue training and share his grappling knowledge after he came to work at the Correctional Centre in the area. 

“I started grappling out of an interest in self-defence but have since continued because it’s really fun, a great experience, and a way to explore fighting in a safe environment where you’re unlikely to get injured,” he said. 

“There is also a camaraderie that develops with training martial arts that you don’t get to experience in many other walks of life.” 

Training out of Kings Gym on Grey St Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:15 pm to 6:30 pm, Laidlaw’s cohort of students has grown to at least 12 regulars and a dedicated troop of travellers who drop in to visit.

Very soon Laidlaw and his students will demonstrate their skills to the public at the 32nd annual Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes. 

“Last year we introduced Scottish backhold wrestling. This year, in line with the broader Irish theme of the festival, we’re excited to offer traditional Irish collar and elbow wrestling, which has its own distinct rules,” he said. 

“Our event is not just a demonstration; it’s a chance for you to jump in on the mats and experience the thrill of grappling in a safe and controlled environment. It’s a unique opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time,” Laidlaw added. 

For more information, check out the C4 Grappling Glen Innes Facebook page, or email Charlie Laidlaw at laidlaw.charles@outlook.com to join in on the wrestling at the Celtic Festival.


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