A band of 13 greenhorn martial artists representing the Payson Triangle Academy has pulled off one of the greatest feats is the history of the sport in Arizona.
The group, competing at the Arizona National Grappling tournament in Mesa, had 12 competitors win top-three age-group honors.
“This task has never been done by any other martial arts group in Arizona,” said Triangle Academy owner Randy Steinke, himself an accomplished martial artist on the worldwide stage. “I have never seen a group of kids so focused before.
“It was amazing to watch them perform.”
A handful of the local grapplers also managed to pull off the unthinkable, winning first-place honors in two different divisions.
Among them was Kaley Steinke, Randy’s daughter, who won gold medals in the Gi and No-Gi divisions.
Gi is the martial artist’s kimono or uniform and to be promoted in Brazilian Jujitsu, belts go to Gi practitioners. In Gi grappling, cloth grasps are used quite often.
No Gi is different from traditional Brazilian Jujitsu in that there is no kimono worn. Commonly accepted clothing consists of shorts, T-shirts and rash guards. No Gi competitors are not allowed to grab or use clothing while they wrestle.
In addition to the young members of the Triangle Academy shining in Mesa, Steinke grappled his way to four first-place medals in four different classes.
Steinke originally fought out of the Panktration Academy in Payson before signing a professional contract in 2008 with Fight Legion, a California management firm.
Steinke was signed by Fight Legion Sept. 23 after winning the Rage in the Cage Lightweight (155 pounds) championship in Prescott.
His career eventually took him to the prestigious Shoot Brazil championships where he won in the first round, but was eliminated in the second.
For more information about the Triangle Academy, call Steinke at (928) 978-4905.