If the existence of Craig Jones has suddenly made Australia jump up a few spots on your travel bucket list, Lachlan Giles should put it at the very top. Not only has Giles coached Jones since purple belt (ultimately being the one to give Jones his black belt), but he himself is one of Australia’s top grapplers. And next week, he’ll be looking to cement his place in Abu Dhabi World Pro history with a gold medal.
Giles began training jiu-jitsu at age fifteen, inspired by Royce Gracie’s performance in UFC 1. But living and training in Australia left him “somewhat removed” from the rest of the competitive jiu-jitsu world, and it wasn’t until he was a purple belt that he started to really pay attention to the techniques used outside of his country. “I had a friend who had been studying footage of international competition,” he says. “I think the biggest shift in my BJJ came when I also started to study international competitors to replicate the techniques they were using.”
Still, it took a while for Giles to find the internationally recognized success that he’s known for today. “Coming up through the ranks, I never got a medal at a World Championship event, and obviously at black belt that is very difficult to do,” he said. His hard work and dedication paid off, however, when he started climbing the ladder of major submission-focused jiu-jitsu competitions, armbarring former ADCC champion Rani Yahya to win third place at EBI 5 and winning the ADCC Asia and Oceania Trials in both 2015 and 2017.
Last year, Giles won bronze at No-Gi Worlds. Making the podium that had eluded him for so many years had him “stoked,” but he says he’s still hoping to make it up there again this year. But before he gets another chance to be able to call himself a world champion, he’ll be going up against other world-class grapplers at the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro, which he calls “the most professional that [he’s] ever seen.”
Giles is, of course, aiming for the top of the podium at Abu Dhabi, just as he’s aimed for the top of everything he’s attempted in life. (Fun fact: he also has a PhD in physiotherapy.) Although BJJ athletes from Down Under might still be considered underdogs in competitions of this level, Giles has repeatedly proven that those who sleep on both his coaching abilities and his athletic skill do so at their own peril. “I’ll give it my all,” he says. “If I am able to implement my game well on the day [I compete], I will cause a few upsets!”
Keep following the Jiu-Jitsu Times for continued coverage of the 2018 Abu Dhabi World Pro.