Despite being extremely far away from, well, everywhere else, Australia is doing remarkably well at building top-level jiu-jitsu talent. While Craig Jones is perhaps the most famous Aussie in jiu-jitsu right now, other grapplers from Down Under (such as Kit Dale, Livia and Lachlan Giles, Sophia McDermott, and Levi Jones-Leary) have ascended in the BJJ scene as accomplished black belts. And hot on their heels is Adelaide brown belt Declan Moody.
In his home country, Moody is already well established as being a force on the mats. He started training at age 13 back in 2010, beginning his competitive career shortly thereafter. He now trains at Adelaide Jiu-Jitsu Academy and has spent “extended periods of time” at Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu in Japan, which he says has helped to push him and his training. He’s since won eleven national titles and six Pan Pacific titles, and he competed as a part of Team Solider at Tokyo’s Quintet Fight Night. Late last year, he gained international attention for winning quadruple gold at the IBJJF Pan-Pacific Championship, submitting ten out of his eleven opponents on his way to the top of the podium.
At the end of April, Moody will be facing another huge challenge: the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro. The massive event will have many of the world’s top BJJ competitors vying for one of the sport’s most prestigious titles, and a win (or even a place on the podium) here would cement Moody’s place as one of the best jiu-jitsu athletes not only in his country, but in the world.
It won’t be the first time Moody has competed at the event — he was last there in 2017 as a purple belt, and he’s excited to test himself again. “The experience was incredible!” he says. “Such a professional event with world-class competitors. I can’t wait to go back and test myself against the best on the big stage.”
It won’t be an easy journey to the top at such an elite level of competition, but a lot can happen in two years. Moody believes that his own development as an athlete may be the deciding factor in the success he hopes to find at the event this year. “Since I last competed at the World Pro, my game has changed a lot, and I believe I have made great improvements not only to my jiu-jitsu, but also my professionalism and my mentality towards competition. I think these will make a difference for this competition,” he says.
Regardless of what happens at the World Pro for him or the other Australian competitors, Moody has high hopes and expectations for the future of Australia’s place in the BJJ world. “Australian jiu-jitsu is on the rise with people like Craig Jones and Levi Jones Leary leading the way. I think the next couple of years will see many more breakout stars coming out of Australia,” he says.