(Contributed) Kristina Freeman on top of the podium at the world championships.

Maple Ridge fighters on top of the world

Two world champions at Maple Ridge martial arts studio

A martial arts studio in Maple Ridge is sporting two world champions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Perry Bateson, who has run the local club for 25 years, won his first gold medal as a black belt at the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Las Vegas in August of 2018. He is the owner of Bateson’s Martial Arts and the Northwest Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

His longtime student Kristina Freeman, also won a world championship. Both won in gi events, with the traditional martial arts uniform, in an event which emphasizes ground fighting, with no striking. They won the world championships for the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation – the largest organization in the world for the sport.

Bateson had earlier won gold as a brown belt and took silver as a purple belt. Then 2017 brought his first worlds as a black belt, and he placed silver.

Earning a black belt in jiu-jitsu is not as fast as in some martial arts, and takes 10-12 years on average, he said.

Bateson was already a black belt and instructor in taekwondo and kung fu when he started jiu-jitsu. He has no preference for one martial art over the others.

“They have all been different stages of my life.”

He competed at various levels and “did okay,” in Taekwondo.

But 15 years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has made him appreciate that it is the art and the sport that best prepares fighters for a real-life physical confrontation.

“It’s the closest thing you can get to test your real self in a real situation,” he said. “It’s the most realistic relationship to a real fight.

“So, I train a lot of police officers.”

Bateson said his own trainers appreciated his accomplishment in Las Vegas.

“They were proud of me,” he said. “I’m not one to brag, but when you’ve got a black belt and you win the worlds, you’ve got bragging rights.”

He won three matches. The first was a straightforward win over a Texan fighter. The second was against a fourth degree black belt from Australia and a big challenge.

He won with a triangle choke hold, using his legs to cut off his opponent’s air. The man wouldn’t tap, and Bateson switched to an arm hold as the time expired and he was declared the winner.

Bateson found out afterward why his opponent wouldn’t submit.

“He said to me the next day that he was unconscious.”

In the final, he beat a Japanese competitor in another tough match.

Bateson trains under the Machado Brothers, who have cousins in the famous Gracie family who founded the art. His instructor is Brian Johnson, who is a four-time no-gi world champion and third degree black belt.

Freeman, 41, already has a black belt in taekwondo, and has been training with Bateson for 17 years, with some breaks. She has also trained in boxing, kickboxing, kung fu and even with swords.

“I’ve always had a passion for martial arts,” she said.

She has now won back-to-back world championships, after spending most of her career as a martial artist not wanting to compete.

Three years ago, Bateson told her to try her first tournament at an event in Seattle. She won gold, and Freeman has been winning ever since.

She said her secret is that she loves to train, so her physical strength and technique are both at an elite level.

Between taekwondo, hit fit classes, jiu jitsu and regular gym training, she puts in about 18 hours per week.

“I love it.”

It shows in her technique.

“She follows the technique methodically,” said Bateson. “Each step of the process she is methodical – she doesn’t go to B until she has A.”

Freeman wins with the Americana – a high arm figure four lock that results in quick submissions. Once she gets on top and gets ahold on her opponents arm, it’s all over.

In Vegas, she won three fights, and defeated a woman who had been her nemesis – a Seattle fighter she always meets in tournaments – with her trademark Americana.

“It was a personal triumph.”

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