EMOTIONS ran high as dozens of martial artists pushed themselves to breaking point during an exhaustive 24-hour fundraiser.
More than 50 people took part in the Rogers JiuJitsu Academy’s day-long event, raising a stunning £1,636.63 for a cancer charity in Gosport.
Taking to the mats of the Gosport-based martial arts school, the team of fundraisers wrestled and grappled non-stop to raise the cash for Harbour Cancer Support Centre, in Stokes Road.
The effort was organised by the Heritage Way club’s chief instructor, Aaron Rogers – who is a black belt in traditional jiu-jitsu and kickboxing and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
He said: ‘We were doing this because the dad of one of our students lost his battle with cancer. Harbour Cancer Support really helped him and his dad. It meant so much.
‘We just had to do something to raise money for them.’
Jiu-jitsu is a traditional Japanese martial arts which sees practitioners wrestling and grappling on the floor.
Utilising throws, chokes and joint locks, the sport has been growing in popularity with the rise of mixed martial arts contests in recent years.
The Gosport club’s ‘grappleathon’ took place last weekend, beginning at 4pm on Saturday and concluding 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon.
A squad of 10 from Aaron’s group, including himself, took on the whole 24 hours, with dozens of students from his academy and four other clubs in the area stepping in to help throughout the night and day.
Aaron, who has been training in jiu-jitsu since he was five, said finishing the event was a massive achievement.
‘My wife was keeping an eye on the time,’ he said. ‘When she told us it was 4pm I teared up a bit. It was emotional.’
He added he was still dealing with the battle wounds of the prolonged grapple session.
‘My thumbs were bleeding from where I had been gripping on to to people’s suits – their gi,’ added the 32-year-old. ‘I feel asleep in the bath when I got home.
‘One of the lads, Darren, was covered in bruises.
‘I think we underestimated just how tough 24 hours was going to be.’
The effort was in memory of Nick Hamerton, 64, the stepfather of Adam Way, who has attended the club for three years.
Adam, who is a firefighter based at Gosport, said the Harbour Cancer Support Centre had been vital in helping his family through their ordeal.
The 40-year-old, who also took part in the event, said: ‘One and a half years ago he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
‘Doctors removed pretty much all of his liver and a lot of his intestines before they gave him the all clear.
‘Six weeks later, the cancer came back and spread to his lungs. It was horrible.
‘So having the support from the club just means a lot to all of us.’
Aaron, who took over the gym from his late father last year, said the support had been ‘overwhelming’ and praised all those who helped.
He added the club is eager to stage another charity event in the future.
‘We always try and do something for charity each year,’ said the martial arts expert.
The club is based at the Heritage Business Park, in Heritage Way. It runs six days a week, Monday to Saturday.