Mitchells kick to win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2002

When Brian Mitchell stepped onto the mat at the Commonwealth Games of Virginia Karate Champion-ships in Roanoke last weekend, he knew he was in for a fight. Standing across from him was Alex Peters, a fellow student of Brian’s at Jeff Bateman’s School of Karate.

&uot;He was bigger than me,&uot; recalls Brian, 8. &uot;But I still tried to beat him up!&uot;

In the end, Alex came out on top for his third consecutive gold medal in sparring. But for Brian, competing in his first-ever tournament, a silver medal was inspiration enough.

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&uot;I think I’ll beat him next time!&uot; promises the Oakland Elementary School honor student.

Since joining Bateman’s school nearly two years ago, Brian has moved up the karate ladder, says his teacher. &uot;It used to be that every time he came in, he’d come up to me and say, ‘Renshi (teacher), I want to test for a belt today!’&uot; says Bateman. &uot;But he knows now that he has to work his way up. When he tests, he always does really well.&uot;

Testing hasn’t been a problem; Brian recently earned a blue belt. &uot;First I had a white one, then a purple, gold, orange, and now blue!&uot;

Until last weekend, though, he hadn’t competed in a tournament. &uot;I don’t know how I felt before it started.&uot;

His sparring medal wasn’t Brian’s only victory; he also took home a bronze in ‘kata’ (forms).

But Brian wasn’t the only Mitchell to tear up the mats in Roanoke; his older sister Jeymie took golds in weapons, kata, and sparring.

&uot;I was never nervous, not even when I started sparring,&uot; says Jeymie, 13, a student at King’s Fork Middle School. &uot;It was fun to kick their butts.&uot;

Training with her little brother is usually an enjoyable experience, she continues. &uot;It’s fun, because I get to see how much he improves and how much he’s growing up.&uot;

Now a green belt, Jeymie helps in the assistant trainer program, learning to teach students at Brian’s level and below. &uot;I want to become a black belt, and go from there,&uot; she explains.

She’s already getting a bit of instructional experience in the Mitchell home. &uot;Sometimes he and I practice together,&uot; Jeymie says of her brother. &uot;We’ll work on forms, and things like that.&uot;