Two Highland Lakes residents are expected to contend for world championships in the Brazilian martial art of jiu-jitsu. Neither is old enough to take a driver’s license test.
They are brothers Jett and Gage Coleman of Horseshoe Bay. Jett, 14, is ranked in the top two in the world in the 119.99- to 120.99-pound and 14- to 15-year-old divisions, while Gage, 11, is ranked No. 1 in the 85-pound division.
The two Marble Falls Middle School students will compete at the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) world championships in Dallas on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Duncanville Fieldhouse, 1700 S. Main St. in Duncanville.
The tournament is a single-elimination format.
“It feels good to be number one, but you got to prove it every time you step on the mat,” said Gage, who has 29 wins.
The two picked up the sport from their uncle Dusty five months ago. He invited them to join him for a session at Triple Threat Jiu-Jitsu, 2415 Commerce St. in Marble Falls.
They now train three hours a day five days a week.
“I like the challenge and competing,” said Jett, who has 36 wins. “That’s mainly the best part.”
“It’s fun, especially when you win,” Gage said. “The feeling of winning – it’s myself who won — it feels a lot better than winning a football game. You don’t have a team to depend on you. It’s myself and the moment. So, if I mess up, it’s not my whole team that messes up, it’s me that messes up.”
The family has traveled to tournaments across the country, where the boys have competed against some of the best in the sport — an invaluable lesson, Jett said.
They face as many as five opponents in a weekend tournament, another crucial element for development, he added.
Jett, who also plays football and basketball and runs track, has earned 28 gold medals, while Gage, a football and basketball player, has 18.
Their coach, Mario Fonseca, said the key to the athletes’ success really isn’t a secret at all.
“They like to work, they love the sport,” he said. “They’re not afraid to get creative and ask questions. Every time I come in here and we work, they’re always working hard.”
The two also study judo, a Japanese martial art, which helps them fight opponents on the ground, Jett said.
The brothers want to turn pro in jiu-jitsu and often find their best opponent is each other. Jett has defeated his younger brother many times in practice. Instead of being upset, Gage simply recommits himself to being the best he can with a little more motivation.
“That’s kind of pushing me harder,” he said, “to beat him.”