ERIN – Noah DiNola is ready to grapple his way to the Jiu Jitsu World Championships in Kazakhstan this summer.
The 14-year-old Erin resident will compete in the U16 division along with 20 other competitors who will represent Canada in August.
DiNola, a Grade 9 student at Erin District High School, won gold at the Canadian Nationals Jiu Jitsu tournament in Scarborough earlier this month, qualifying him for the Canadian National team.
“I never thought this would happen so fast. I competed provincially and then nationally,” DiNola said.
“And now, I can’t believe it, here I am.”
DiNola’s father Rick says Noah’s success did not come without a lot of hard work.
“Noah has been training since the age of four. He started off in Sport jiu jujitsu and then he branched off in Brazilian jiu jitsu which is what he is competing in right now for Team Canada,” Rick said.
“This is his first competition at a world class level. He’s nervous. He doesn’t know what to expect from that class of competition. But it really is so exciting to see him come this far, and so soon.”
Rick says his son has developed a true passion for his sport.
“It’s amazing. He set his own goals at a young age. He had mentors along the way who compete on the world class level and then that became his goal, to represent Canada,” Rick said.
“And he did it. It’s surprising that he has done it so quickly. He’s worked hard and we are truly proud of him.”
DiNola trains six days a week, at Brampton Jiu Jitsu, Georgetown Jiu Jitsu and Blaze Performance Training in Orangeville, where he works to develop strength and conditioning.
Irena Blazey has been coaching DiNola at Blaze Performance Training for almost a year.
“Noah has done a great job. He is always focused and willing to put in the hard work,” Blazey said.
Blazey’s husband Scott, who is also Noah's co-coach, says it’s exciting to see him come this far.
“Obviously as coaches, it’s amazing to be able to work with someone like Noah because he just devours everything you throw at him. He works hard, but he’s always looking at what he needs to improve,” Scott said.
“That’s what led him here to us. Doing jiu jitsu, he noticed that he was missing something and looking for ways to strengthen himself. For someone his age, it’s such a mature way of thinking and very rare. Noah is always looking for the gaps to make himself stronger, better, and faster.”
Brazilian jiu jitsu is a self defence martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting and submission holds.
Noah’s division is yellow belt, under 16 and under 100 pounds.
“There’s so much more to it then just fighting, it’s a technique. You have to learn the terminology, the positions, and how to get your self out of a certain hold,” DiNola said.
“What I love the most about the sport is attending tournaments. I do get a little nervous, but when you first shake hands with your opponent, you get to size them up. Sometimes you can sense them, as you try to figure out how tough they might be.”
When not doing jiu jitsu, DiNola enjoys playing rugby and swimming. He hopes to become to be a lifeguard next year.
DiNola’s mother, father, and older brother will be accompanying him to Kazakhstan for the competition.
DiNola says he is looking for sponsors for the trip to help pay for all of the expenses.
“We started a GoFundMe page because the trip costs quite a bit,” DiNola said.
“I’m really excited to visit a place I’ve never been before and to compete in a huge stadium.”
DiNola is thrilled to have his family with him for support.
“I’m so happy that they'll be with me,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be so much fun to have my family there watching me.”