Combat Sports: Jiu Jitsu on rise in New Zealand after surge in UFC success

The rise in popularity of mixed martial arts around the world has seen a surge in participation in New Zealand.

From men, women, boys and girls, Jiu Jitsu is a sport for all, as seen at the national championships on Saturday. 

"The reason why I like it is because I like to submit people," says Imogen Frear, who has competed in Jiu Jitsu for five years.

"Today, I got guillotined, so one of my goals is to try and get out of that position, because that position hurts."

With the sport on the rise, it's also been a way for competitors to join a community and make new friends. 

"At school, I had trouble making friends, so it was really easy to make friends when I came to Jiu Jitsu," Sophie King tells Newshub. 

It's a chance for people to meet new people and develop new moves

"We learn arm bars and chokes," Gia Fernandes says.

But more importantly, they learn some life lessons too - like self confidence and control. 

"Life is brutal, let's be honest, it's a fight every day, so to have discipline, it's an art," Kingi Williams says. "It's a form you can develop over a series of time. 

"It can be brutal, yes, but in that moment when you need it the most, it's there to save you.

"Jujutsu saved my life on a motorbike. I flipped off and I used the break-fall technique that saved my life.

"It's just good for me to pass something positive on to my kids to show they're gold medallists and champions, and that they believe in themselves."

The skillset the sport develops are valuable and can be used in everyday life. 

"My boy has grown immensely in confidence, while my daughter on the other hand, she knows how to control herself a little more,"  Ian Fernandes tells Newshub

"I put them into Jiu Jitsu to develop self confidence and give them a life skill." 

Six-hundred fighters competed in Saturday's national championships - six times more than 10 years ago

"It's growing 10-20 percent each year, which is amazing," Steve Oliver says. "We ran an event last year - the first Oceania championships in New Zealand - and we pulled 1500 competitors."

The success of New Zealand's UFC fighters on the world stage has played a big part in that growth and standard.

"Just like other people coming up to see you can have a good life doing combative sports," Karlo Witana says. "Whether it's judo, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, MMA, kickboxing or boxing, seeing that people from New Zealand can actually make a living for themselves and make a career.

"The skill level is crazy. It's almost better than worlds and stuff."

Don't be surprised if you start to see even more kiwis dominating on the world stage in the future.

Watch the full story above.