Ross earns medals, metal

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shown with Ross Martial Arts and Fitness Academy owners Jay Russell and Rhonda Ross Russell are fighters Collin Morgan, Emily Hall, Patrick Hall, Brett Schroeder, Mackenzie Dill, Tristen Fitzgerald, Allison Boxmeyer, Nikki Smith and Daniel Alexander. Not shown are Jackson Morrison and Meghan Darhower. The team earned 25 medals at Saturday’s North American Grappling Association competition.

Many competitions hand out gold, silver and bronze medals to winners, but few award swords to their champions.

The North American Grappling Association (NAGA) does give samurai swords to its children and teen winners, and fighters from Ross Martial Arts in Demopolis earned their share of metal this past weekend.

A team of 13 fighters from Ross competed in Saturday’s NAGA Grappling Championship at Mundy’s Mill High School outside Atlanta, taking home about 25 medals and some blades to boot.

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Hundreds of competitors from across the country participated in Saturday’s NAGA event.

Grappling covers techniques used in many disciplines of wrestling and some martial arts. Amateur wrestling, judo, sumo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu are almost exclusively grabbling arts.

These stand in comparison to fighting system like boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo and karate that allow striking.

In fact, NAGA rule are based on those used by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, though there are some differences.

Fighters win by getting their opponent to tap out or getting the most points based on a scoring system that awards takedowns and different holds.

There are two different branches of competition: gi and no gi.

In gi wrestling, a traditional kimono uniform is worn, while in no gi matches, fighters wear shorts and athletic shirts.

Fighters are also divided up by gender, age, weight and experience. Wrestlers start as young as six and go up to 50 and above.

The team from Ross won eight gold medals during Saturday’s competition at Mundy’s Mill High School in Georgia.

Last Saturday’s competition marked the sixth time fighters from Ross have competed at a NAGA event.

Jay Russell operates the business with his wife, Ronda Ross Russell.

He and student Daniel Alexander competed in a February 2011 event in sort of a scouting mission.

“We loved it. We had a great experience,” Jay Russell said.

Ross took the academy’s first full team to a July 2011 event and have competed in four other competitions in Atlanta and Nashville since.


In the most recent championship, these fighters won the following medals in their classifications:

•Collin Morgan, novice boys, 8, 60-69 pounds: fourth no gi and second gi.

•Emily Hall, beginner girls, 9, 60-69 pounds: second no gi (heavy weight class), first no gi and second gi.

•Patrick Hall, intermediate boys, 10, 110 pounds: first no gi and first gi.

•Brett Schroeder, intermediate boys, 10-years-old, 99 pounds: second expert no gi, second no gi and second gi.

•Mackenzie Dill, intermediate girls, 11: first no gi and first gi.

•Jackson Morrison, beginner boys, 14, 130-139 pounds: second no gi and second gi.

•Tristen Fitzgerald, beginner boys, 16, 130-139 pounds: second no gi and third gi.

•Tyler Alexander, intermediate boys, 17, 159 pounds: second expert no gi and third intermediate gi.

•Meghan Darhower, women’s novice: second no gi and third gi.

•Allison Boxmeyer, women’s beginner: first no gi and second gi.

•Nikki Smith, women’s beginner: second no gi and first gi.

•Daniel Alexander, men’s intermediate: third no gi.

•Ronda Russell, women’s intermediate: first no gi and second gi.