Started at age 4 —  a Layton Dodge Athlete of The Year Award Winner by age 8

Article and images by Tim Burgess

From the age of 4, Lawson Williams has been a pint-sized package of power committed to being the best in the World in Brazilian JiuJitsu and no-gi grappling.

He achieved this distinction in 2019 at the Pans Kids IBJJF championship held in California winning Gold for his weight class. Heating up the mats as a yellow/white belt at the Pans Kids IBJJF Championship in California he also won Bronze in 2020 and Silver this past year 2021 when the Worlds were held in Florida.

“I enjoy it; it is fun when I do it,” explains the 11-year-old powerhouse from Cramahe Township. “It helps you learn to defend yourself, make your body healthy, and keeps you fit.”

Five days a week Lawson trains to be world-class. His training regime is a combination of conditioning at home, performance camps, working out at his home gym in Pickering and weekly training in North York. “You need discipline to not hurt other people; you have to control yourself when training.”

“All my fights are filmed and we look back on each fight,” Lawson explains. “When I lose, I study it, understand how I lost, and learn from a loss. You either win or you learn.”

In 2018 at the age of 8, Lawson won the Layton Dodge Athlete of The Year Award at the Cobourg Civic Awards night. This fuelled him for the next few years to train hard. With the pandemic, he hasn’t been able to get competition experience nor full training camps but Lawson still went to Florida to compete at Pan Kids International Championships, the biggest and most prestigious tournament in the world for kids. He competed in the 11-year-old yellow belt heavyweight division and won his first match within a minute by rear-naked choke and won his 2nd match advancing to the finals where he lost to a tough Brazilian competitor when the referee ended the fight due to a safety ruling. Lawson ended up with 2nd place out of 7 kids or silver in the heavyweight division.

One of the greatest achievements Lawson recalls is being asked to participate in a show called JitzKing, based out of Florida, when he was chosen to participate in a “superfight.” His competitor was a Pan Kids gold medal winner.  Lawson won impressively by controlling his opponent most of the match finishing with a rear-naked choke that made his opponent tap out. The contest was a great experience for Lawson; it was the first time his fight was promoted with a fight poster, there was paid attendance, and the event was streamed live on the internet site FloGrappling. 

Lawson’s family fully supports his athletic passion, father Matt explains, “It is a lot of driving for sure, a lot of fuel and organizing our schedules for the week.” But when it comes to high-level competition, finding the right gym is important. For the Pan Kids Tournament training camp was intense with older and bigger kids than Lawson.

Lawson is not only a student but a trainer who leads younger belt classes. Owner and head coach Fernando Zulick of Action and Reaction MMA Martial Arts School in Pickering describes Lawson as, “a hard worker, dedicated, pays attention, and never misses a class.” Fernando has accompanied Lawson to all his major tournaments in the United States and Canada.

Lawson is now training and preparing for the Ontario Open and GTA classic coming in September 18-19 then Abu Dhabi Pro Canada Tournament in October. When Lawson is not training, he likes to play basketball, video games and soccer with his friends. His schedule is demanding. Going to bed early and fundraising is a necessary part of the preparation for a prize competitor. Lawson has sold t-shirts and chocolate bars to help fund his trips for competitions and now he is looking for help with sponsorship to go to California in February for the 2022 Pans Kids IBJJF Worlds Championship.

If you are interested in helping Lawson please contact Matthew at:

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