EASLEY—After producing two national champions in 2012, students from Palmetto Martial Arts in Easley are at it again.
The team recently found major success at the March 23 state championship, and will send nine students to the national tournament in June.
“We sent 49 students to the state championship,” Palmetto Martial Arts Master John Roberson said. “We came up with 72 gold medals, 33 silver and 17 bronze. We racked up and they performed really well.”
Roberson said 12 qualified for nationals, but only nine will be going. Those competing in the national tournament include: Josh Malek, Brittany Bryant, Jennifer Davis, Trey Sheriff, Alex Ellenburg, Phil Moses, Zack Rinkliff, Abby Rinkliff and Seth Keith.
Roberson said these students have been hard at work trying to prepare for nationals.
“These guys are on my competition team,” Roberson said. “Most of them work out every day for two or three hours, and then they come to class. You have to do that sort of thing because that what the guys you are fighting are going to do. There’s a lot of training that goes into this.”
That training includes a little bit of everything, according to Roberson.
“We do a lot of speed, endurance and power training,” Roberson said. “We don’t just practice. I map all my classes out, because when you don’t, you miss a lot. That method is starting to pay off.”
Keith, Malek and Bryant will compete in the world class division this year, but Roberson said the competition level will be increased for all students this year.
“Although some of our guys are not in the world class division, there will still be a lot of competition,” Roberson said. “I want these guys to get experience so when they do get good enough they are ready for the big stage.”
“I have faith in my students. They are really good,” he said. “Every time we compete, they surprise me.”
For some, Roberson hopes this process is the beginning of something much bigger.
“(Martial Arts) is a process,” said Roberson. “It takes 10 years for somebody to be good enough to even get to the world class division. Winning gold there sends you to the team trials, and winning gold there sends you to the Olympic trials. They say it takes 10 years and 10,000 hours. My goal is to have a gold medalist in the Olympics.”
As for now, preparation is the key.
“They can’t wait for nationals,” Roberson said. “They’re ready to go.”