Alamedan Takes Gold in State Jiu Jitsu Champs

California Open Championship latest in series of medals for Kahuanui

Alameda native Kaniela Kahuanui won the gold medal in the adult advanced No Gi division at the renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu tournament the Five Grappling California 2 Open Championship last Saturday, Sept. 20, at Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

Kahuanui, 20, competed in the adult middleweight division for participants between 18 and 29 years old who weigh between 170 and 189.9 pounds.

He fought under the No Gi guidelines, which means the participant wears surf shorts rather than the traditional heavy cotton drawstring pants, usually with reinforced knees, and a heavy cotton jacket with a thick collar. The participants are not allowed to grab onto their opponent’s clothing during the match. He was also placed in the advanced section meaning he has three to five years of Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu experience.

Kahuanui, who graduated from Encinal High in 2012, beat out Takashi Munoz (silver) and Tommy Lilleskog Langaker (bronze) on his way to the gold medal. There are three matches in the single-elimination three-person bracket, according to Five Grappling rules. Competitor 1 and Competitor 2 face each other in match one. The winner of this match advances to the final and the loser of this match faces Competitor 3 in match two. The winner of match two faces the winner of match one in the final and deciding match.

Kahuanui currently trains under eight-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt World Champion Caio Terra at the Institute of Martial Arts at 855 Park Ave. in San Jose. Each participant in the Five Grappling fights with an academy team.

Kahuanui has been successful in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu scene recently. He has won 10 out of 12 gold medals in the past six months at Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu tournaments across the country including the American Cup, Jiu Jitsu by the Bay, IBJJF San Francisco Open, Gracie Regionals, Gracie Invitational, Gracie Open, IBJJF Vegas Open and the American Nationals.

Kahuanui currently attends Cal State East Bay in Hayward, where he is a Kinesiology major. He said he wants to one day teach Jiu-Jitzu or open his own academy.

Contact Ekene Ikeme at