Presented in Auckland,20 December 2008
Gary Polwart began studies in Kawaishi Nihon Goshin Jutsu in 1980 after a number of years in karate. His initial instructor was NZ Jiu Jitsu Association’s Fred Florian and he later trained with John Silson (NZJJA) who was also in Whangarei. By 1992 Gary had moved to Auckland where he continued studies in the Kawaishi method at Terry Evan’s South Pacific Jiu Jitsu Society club. When SPJJS folded in 1994 Terry renamed his club Waitakere Martial Arts and Gary took a leading role. He was graded to shodan (1st degree) in 1997 and went on to set up his own club, reAction Martial Arts, in 2001.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Gary competed in numerous tournaments watching rules evolve from the very judo-oriented NZJJA / SPJJS tournaments to the continuous fighting of Jiu Jitsu Unlimited. In 1998 Gary represented New Zealandat the ISJA World Sport Ju-Jitsu Games in Canada and the following year set up ISJA(NZ) with Doug Bailey.
The aim of ISJA(NZ) - later SJJ(NZ) - was to unite all the various ‘national tournaments’ onto a single national circuit and by the end of the first year 30 clubs had participated on the circuit. Gary began as the Tournament Director, was a Class I referee, managed the first NZ Black Tops team at the 2000 World Games inEnglandand held the position of secretary / treasurer until 2003. When, in that year, the NZ Ju-Jitsu Federation (NZJJF) was founded Gary took a leading role and was elected secretary / treasurer, a position he maintained until his retirement in 2007. Throughout his tenure Gary developed an integrated system to handle memberships, sporting draws, rankings, websites and NZJJF administration that is the envy of the international community. His enduring legacy, however, is the unification of ju-jitsu in New Zealand which is largely due to his vision, leadership and dedication.