Texas Jeet Kune Do continued their tradition of bringing home world championships to El Campo. At the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) U.S. Open World Martial Arts Championships earlier in the month in Orlando, Fla. the El Campo martial arts school took seven students and four coaches, bringing home two World Championships, both won by first-year Jeet Kune Do martial artist, Desiree Gonzales.
“It’s huge to be a part of something like that and be able to have our team win and bring home championships,” Jeet Kune Do Coach Beverly Pratka said.
Along with the many second-place and third-place trophies the El Campo dojo, Gonzales placed first in Sport MMA and Clash Sparring, becoming the world champ in both.
“Desiree (Gonzales) came to us a little over a year ago and from the very beginning showed a lot of potential,” Pratka said. “She was naturally athletic and really mature for her age.”
“It was a fun experience, I really liked it,” Gonzales said.
While she had no background in martial arts, Gonzales took to the sport quickly and became part of the Jeet Kue Do competition team.
Technique and skill is something needed by someone who practices Jeet Kun Do, but dedication is also stressed by the coaches.
Gonzales and the rest of the competition team practiced for 12 hours a week for three months leading up to the trip to the World Martial Arts Championships.
While the school did not match the six championships from last year, it wasn’t for lack of effort or skill. This year, the martial arts championship brought in even more competitors and they dealt with new schedule shift that crammed all events into one day making things a little hectic, ultimately hampering them this time.
“It was good to test our calmness and our ability to go with the flow and still perform the best that we could,” Pratka said.
The El Campo martial artists competed against different schools and competitors from around the country and the world. They might have done a little bit better had the judging been a little bit different.
“Quite a few of the matches we were watching, it was pretty clear to most of the crowd that our kid won, and the judges gave the point to the other kid,” Pratka said. “It happens. That’s the chance you take in a sport of ours where a point is involved.”
Gonzales, the school’s lone champion, suffered a first-round set back in one her opening matches, but she came back to win.
“I got upset but I got over it,” Gonzales said. “I told my mom, ‘These next girls better put their mouthpiece in because I’m here to win.”
Along with her win in Sport MMA, she also won in Clash Sparring, which was the first time the El Campo school had taken part in that event.
“My favorite moment is when I threw a kick at this girl and she flew out of the (video) frame (that my dad took),” Gonzales said.
Addison Soza last year won the Point Sparring World Championship, she moved up an age bracket and did not win, but took home two third-place trophies.
“It was better than last year,” Soza said. “My MMA round was way better than last year and my Countuios (Sparring) round (was better too). I think (my favorite moment) was MMA, I escaped an armbar.”
While the world championships are over for the El Campo Jeet Kune Do martial artist, they still have more titles on their sights. At the TKO State Finals in Houston in November, they will have 10 students represent Jeet Kune Do after qualifying at a regional tournament in Galveston.