Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, descends from a martial art originally developed in feudal Japan, before being exported to Brazil on a wave of Japanese immigration around the turn of the 20th century. Jiu-jitsu roughly translates as “the gentle art”, which, to the uninitiated, might seem inappropriate. An alternative interpretation might be “yielding”, the idea being to redirect your opponent’s force, rather than to meet it head-on. It’s about taking your opponent down to the ground, where you can oblige them to submit with limb locks or chokes.
One of those ground moves – rolling – is an all-encompassing term for sparring or drilling at varying degrees of intensity.
Up until now, the world record for the longest BJJ roll was at an impressive 24-hours, held by 47-year-old jiu-jitsu athlete Damian “Obi” Todd. But now, smashing out an unbelievable 30hours a few weeks ago, the crown has been passed onto Broken Hill’s own Brown Belt Campbell Symes.
Campbell, who moved to Thailand when he was only 16 years old and trained under 5th Degree Blackbelt Olavo Abreu, is now one the toughest competitors in Asia and one of the coaches at the new world class facility Temple BJJ in Phuket.
“I am attempting to break the world record for the longest BJJ Roll, to help raise funds for RDC Gym in Phuket, Thailand,” Campbell said before the world record attempt. “RDC is a local Thai gym that has some of the best Jiu-Jitsu kids athletes in the country. When Covid-19 hit and we lost our Jiu-Jitsu home, RDC opened their doors to us, welcomed the team and also gave me a chance to teach these amazing kids. Now Covid-19 has really affected the gym, parents can’t afford training and the gym is on the verge of closing.”
The world record attempt took place at beautiful Temple BJJ academy in Phuket, Thailand where Campbell rolled non stop for 4 hours while taking short 12 minute breaks to go to the toilet, fuel up with Acai, change Gis, get massages and put vaseline on his damaged skin.
“I really didn’t know how to write this post so instead I have just quoted some people who really helped me get through it and hopefully that helps put it into words better than I can,” he posted on Instagram following the feat. “It took me exactly 29 hours and 55 minutes to understand that this event has nothing to do with Jiu Jitsu. When the person chosen for the last round came out then I could understand everything and I cried. It was not about BJJ. It was about love, about giving back.”
A football/ soccer fiend, he made the switch to Jiu-Jitsu full time shortly after starting 8 years ago. Shortly after he found himself living in Phuket training under professor Olavo Abreu for the better part of 5 years. Campell has won/ medaled in several countries including IBJJF titles, national/ state titles in Australia, all comps in Thailand (Siam cup, Copa de Bangkok, Ju-Jitsu national championship), Double gold in Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and many more.
Campbell has managed to raise over 100,000 baht which is equivalent to nearly $4000 – a huge amount – for the gym, but donations are still open so if you would like to show your support click here.