MAL Sanchez-Jones and his students A-Jay and Kieron leave for Tokyo next week to attend one of the largest world championships in Japanese mixed martial arts.

A-jay Harrhy, 21, a shop assistant from Barry, has been selected to represent the UK in the full contact art of KUDO which consists of striking, throwing, grappling making it one of the most extreme fighting arts. Even head butts are allowed!

He will be the first Welsh competitor in the history of the event. Even though A-Jay has practicing martial arts for 13 years, he has a colossal test ahead of him at the world championships where the standard is set by a professional Russian team year after year.

A-Jay said: “I am extremely proud to represent my country but most of all my club in Barry. I will do everything I can to win, but if not I will take what I can from the experience”.

Mal, 41, a charity manager from Barry, is A-Jay’s instructor and coach and is looking forward to seeing his student compete on the world stage.

He said: “This is not your normal martial art, there is not a lot that you can’t do when fighting in KUDO.

"Bigger fighters choose to grapple, knee, elbow and submit people but the lighter fighters use movement and knock their opponents out.

"The safety equipment protects from damage to the face but concussions still happen”.

Mal, who comes from a karate background, added: “There are so many martial art competitions out there it’s hard to keep up.

"They all either restrict the level of contact or restrict fighters from hitting the head.

"This makes sense for safety but with the mixed martial arts phenomenon UFC, there is a real risk of traditional arts becoming a thing of the past”.

Mal a 5th Dan black belt has studied martial arts for 35 years opening his first Goshin Karate class in 1999.

His passion for developing realistic self-defence led him to join the International Kudo Federation in 2014 where he has had numerous students become champions.

Mal will be supported by his students in Japan after the championships where he will fight against branch chiefs from all over the world in order to grade at black belt level.

He said: “This is the biggest moment of my life. Not only is my student fighting at the world championship in Japan, I get to fight with so many amazing fighters that I admire so much, but I have to say I wish I was younger!”

If successful Mal will be the first instructor from Wales to grade in KUDO in Japan under the Grandmaster Azuma Takashi.

KUDO is still in its infancy in the UK but is televised in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Mal welcomes anyone interested in KUDO to come along to his dojo in Barry or Cardiff. Search for Goshin & Kudo Academy on Facebook or email him at