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Relatives all win same color medal in same karate event

Casey, Zachary and Josie Twiford and Sadie and Kali Fillhart all started martial arts lessons together at Jeff Bateman’s Karate School in March and were doing well enough so that five months later, in July, they all entered the Commonwealth Games of Virginia.

That was a good accomplishment already, but according to Jeff Bateman, it also opened up some potential problems.

“You’re thinking, ‘what if no one wins anything, or worse yet, what if all but one of them wins something’,” said Bateman.

For all five Twifords and Fillharts, it was their first open tournament of any type, but along with a large number of other beginners who competed in the Games as a member of Bateman’s school, their teacher had nothing to worry about.

First of all, the actual competition was only a part, an important part, but still just one memory of the weekend for Josie and Sadie.

“The best part was going to the tournament, and going to the (Roanoke) Star, and swimming at the hotel.

I liked the pool,” said Josie.

“I was more tired after the party than after fighting,” said Josie about the Saturday night post-tournament party at the hotel for all of the Bateman competitors and family members.

“We didn’t go to sleep until 2:30 in the morning.”

“I liked when we went swimming, and the sparring was fun, and the Opening Ceremony was really cool and so was the party at the end,” said Sadie.

Oh yeah, the sparring, known in martial arts terminology at “kumite,” that part of the trip was fun too.

The main reason though that the weekend turned out perfectly for all five kids and their teacher was that Kali, Sadie, Josie, Casey and Zachary all won bronze medals in kumite.

Casey will be entering John F. Kennedy Middle School in the fall.

Her younger brother Zachary goes to Mack Benn Elementary and her younger sister, Josie, and cousins, Sadie and Kali are home-school students.

Kali won her medal in kumite despite being the fact that, “they (her competitors) were all higher belts than me, I was the only purple belt in the group.”

“I didn’t know what they’d do and they would surprise me,” said Josie about her sparring, “One girl kept jumping and kicking and she almost hit me in the face.”

“Kata was a little different, I didn’t think I’d get it when I started,” said Casey.

“I couldn’t remember all the moves and had to stop sometimes.”

“Yeah, kata was hard because I got a little embarrassed going in front of the judges,” said Zachary.

“I was getting embarrassed, like when I meet new people I get a little shy.”

The kata, or forms, part of the event was tougher because it is a more technical skill and all the eyes of the judges and audience are on the one lone participant, but all five kids seem energized and motivated to be back for more practice, more tournaments and next year’s Commonwealth Games.

The new motivation throughout all of the 26 students who went to Roanoke, more so than the medals themselves, of which the Twiford/Fillhart total was only part of the 46 medals that Bateman’s students won, is the most positive result of the Games.

“Now I know I should do more training,” said Zachary, “If I practice more, I can go back and get revenge on that guy that beat me.”

“I’m never, ever, ever, ever stopping,” said Kali.

“I’m going to remember that,” said Bateman, “now it’ll be up on that wall over there and when you want to quit, I’ll just point to it.”