Redding’s finest became some of the nation’s finest on Jan. 4.
A national martial arts competition was held in Dallas, Texas. It allowed some local kids to show what they could do on the big stage.
"It's like tempting. You want to win and everything,” said Mario Alvarado, 10. “So, you just have to want it. The person's not going to give it to you. You just have to take it."
Three Redding youngsters took first place in an invitation-only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament known as the Battle For The Ages.
Alvarado, 9-year-old Carlos Gallardo, and 16-year-old Sam Rice all brought a championship belt back to the Northstate. Matthew Rice, 14, placed second.
"It felt pretty fantastic to know that I was up there with the some of the best,” said Matthew.
Each competed against seven other competitors in their age group.
All of them train at Amazonas – Rice Brothers Jiu-Jitsu in Redding. The combat sport stays mostly on the ground with techniques of grappling, and gaining the upper-hand with positioning.
“Everybody thinks jiu-jitsu is like karate or something like that,” said instructor Tanner Rice, 21. “It's not. It takes a lot of strength, and takes a lot of agility."
The small-town training gets them ready for big-time competition.
"We're all a family but, you know, there's still that competitive edge in here,” said Tanner. “You can feel it in the air. Especially with the kids, everybody wants to beat each other."
"He helps us by making us go against even bigger kids, that weigh more and higher belts, to make us better,” said Gallardo.
The kids are all taking away much more than victories.
“A lot of kids come in here because they're getting bullied. It helps with your confidence,” said Sam. “It really boosts your self esteem."