A Whitley County brother and sister, and one other local teenager have been selected to the compete on the American Sport Ju Jitsu League’s national team.
Trevor Leach, 10, and his sister, Lauren Leach, 12, along with Corey Bryant, 19, were recently selected for the team. They train at the Rising Sun Ju Jitsu Academy in Williamsburg.
The American Sport Ju Jitsu League (ASJL) is a member of the World Council of Ju Jitsu Organizations, which is the international affiliate that consists of 32 counties.
The American Sport Ju Jitsu League will be competing with those countries in the 2019 World Ju Jitsu Championships, which will be held at the Avanti Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida, Aug. 6 – 11.
“I am super excited. We have put so much time and effort into our students. I am over ecstatic for my students, not just for the ones who made the team. We have 40 plus students here at Rising Sun that train in this style and everyone of them has the potential of making Team USA,” noted Gerald Salyer, chief instructor for the Rising Sun Ju Jitsu Academy, who has been training in marital arts for more than 30 years.
Sanshin Ryu Ju Jitsu, which is a mixture of three different types of martial arts and is taught at Rising Sun, is recognized in 52 counties, Salyer noted.
Lauren Leach said that she was very surprised when told that she had been picked for the national team.
“I am very excited. It gives us new opportunities,” Lauren Leach noted.
Salyer said that world championships are held every one or two years. Two years ago, the championship was held in Australia.
Next year, it will be held in Dublin, Ireland.
“What ASJL is looking for is the best of the best. Somebody that can represent the United States of America, and can do what needs to be done on the mat. It turns out we have three in this dojo,” Salyer said.
It is currently tournament season, and Trevor, Lauren and Corey will be traveling to various meets until the nationals in November, which ends the season.
Salyer said that being on the national team is a lot of work, and involves travel throughout the country.
“One day there might be a team meeting in West Virginia. The next day, there might be a meet in California, and they have to go. It is a big deal,” Salyer said. “The year before last, the United States won the world championship. They look for the best of the best, and it turns out Williamsburg has three of them.”
Salyer said Williamsburg has had some other students, who qualified for the national team, but couldn’t take part for various reasons, such as the extensive travel involved.
Salyer added that Williamsburg will play host for the Kentucky State Championships, which will take place Sept. 28. He is expecting 200 – 300 competitors for the event.
“We are a qualifying tournament. ASJL will be there, and look at the participants in that tournament. Any one of these guys that we still have in this small school in Williamsburg, has the potential of being on the 2020 team. It is kind of a big deal,” Salyer said.