Taylor County Girls to Compete in National Karate Competition - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Taylor County Girls to Compete in National Karate Competition

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Courtesy: Dragon's Den Mixed Martial Arts Courtesy: Dragon's Den Mixed Martial Arts

The Dragon's Den in Grafton has been in the mixed martial arts business for more than 15 years, and it's preparing some of its students for the national stage.

They may be a little young for the Olympics, but Amber Smith, Rylee Jones, and Gabriella Kelly know a thing or two about winning gold medals: seven of them, to be exact.

"When I heard I got all first place and I got to go to Reno, I was really excited," said Smith.

"I did kata, sparring, and weapons," said Kelly.

The girls recently traveled to St. Albans for the USA Karate Team Regional Qualifier, where their skills earned them each a spot in the national championship.

"I'm feeling great about it. It's cool to be here," said Jones.

For the girls, it was love at first spar, and they've never looked back.

"I like kicking boys' butts," said Kelly.

"I saw a couple of my friends doing it, and I wanted to see what it was," said Smith.

"So I started trying to do it, and I kept working and working and working," said Jones.

Instructor Eric Swick from the Dragon's Den in Grafton said karate teaches the kids more than just katas and weapons.

"They have self-discipline. They could stay at home and play XBOX on the computer, but they'd rather be here. They'll hit me up on Facebook, 'Are we training today, Sensei?' 'No, today's Sunday, we're not training, go to church," said Swick.

"Everytime I try to fight, I go really hard," said Smith.

"The one thing, you look at your daughter, and you don't want her to go out there and get hurt. But on another part, she's learning that self-defense for when she gets older, when she goes to college," said Eric Smith, Amber's dad.

"They come back for more, and they're always smiling, no matter how many punches or kicks, so she just has fun, and it's a family event," said Joann Jones, Rylee's mom.

The girls will compete this summer in Reno, Nevada.