By Reed DeSalvo / The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star
Martial artists from across the state of Mississippi flocked to the Frank Cochran Center to showcase their abilities in the art of Jiu-Jitsu Saturday.
The event is associated with the State Games of Mississippi, allowing for plentiful competition among the participants.
“There’s a lot of heart out here,” event referee and former Mixed Martial Arts competitor Anthony Mitchell said. “These kids have a passion for this sport. They are not out here to beat anybody up or hurt anybody, they are out here to win and showcase their skills.”
Additionally, Mitchell serves as a coach to some of the youth participants that displayed their talents Saturday.
“We always start out teaching our students positioning rather than submissions,” Mitchell said. “That is key in Jiu-Jitsu. You have to be able to hold your opponent in whatever position you have them in. We love to teach the kids how to keep an opponent in a position and not let them get up.”
Mitchell also emphasized that Jiu-Jistu provides a family-like environment and is open to any and all who wish to partake.
“You form a family-like bond with your peers,” Mitchell said. “You do a lot of things together as a group. You immediately come in and you’re welcomed in as part of the group. Jiu-Jitsu sets a special atmosphere for people to be around.”
Yet Jiu-Jitsu can also provide valuable life lessons to young children seeking to grow as individuals.
“It’s going to teach a kid self-respect,” Mitchell said. “But it will also teach them confidence. We’ve had children come for training that aren’t maybe the most popular kids in school. We have kids that don’t feel that they may be very strong, but they learn discipline and technique, and it helps make them feel good about themselves and builds their self-confidence.”
As for the competitors, 7-year old Ty Wiggins says he enjoys the competitive nature of the sport of Jiu-Jitsu
“It’s real fun to compete against other kids and be a good sport,” Wiggins said. “When I’m on the mat, I just try to focus on my training and what I’ve been taught.”
Wiggins is the youngest of three children that competes in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. Along with Ty, Josie, 8, and Kylie, 11, also compete.
“I’m very nervous when my brother and sister are competing,” Kylie said. “It makes my heart race, and I want them to win so badly.”
Additionally, Jiu-Jitsu provides the opportunity for participants to test their metal against competition they may have steered away from prior to. Case in point 12 year old Sarah Joyner managed to defeat a male adversary Saturday
“I was excited, but I was very nervous at the same time,” Joyner said. “I was worried that I was going to lose, but I came out on top and that’s pretty cool.”
Yet in the end, Saturday was all about the competitors enjoying the experience and displaying their skills in front of an appreciative audience.
“It’s pretty cool,” Kylie said. “I just enjoy fighting and competing.”