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Lessons over Records: Team Kalista Martial Arts heads to nationals in Vegas
Team Kalista Martial Arts
Left to Right: Gavon Lemmen, Kaelum Kalista, Mason Lemmen - photo by Gerald Thomas III

HINESVILLE -- If you ride in Willowbrook Plaza where Izola's is located, Team Kalista Martial Arts gym is in the same plaza.

You may not see it at first, but don't give up.

It is in the walkway at the plaza, and it is also home of the Coastal Courier's Best of Liberty Best Recreational Facility of 2021.

Also, they are nominees for GBJ's Best of Georgia for their facility.

It is the home of some youth and adult national qualifying fighters.

The gym is coached by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Kaelum Kalista.

Kaelum's gym is decorated with many championship belts and plaques that the club has won.

"We've been in this location for roughly five months," Kalista said. "We're just trying to provide an outlet for kids and a lot of people in the area. Martial arts have done such a big thing for me and my life in a positive way and I want to give that same thing to people in the community to help them out. I'm a firm believer in idle hands are the devil's tool. If a child doesn't have something to do, they're going to find trouble. So, we try to provide a positive, family environment for everyone here."

In his facility he has two brothers by the names of Gavon (8) and Mason Lemmen (9), sons of Jared Lemmen who helped with the interior construction of the place.

The brothers began their journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a little over a year ago as a protection mechanism if in danger.

"Big or small, we put them in there," Jared Lemmen said about his sons. "We do our best, win or lose. It's all about learning. It's not about winning or losing to us."

Fast forward to the present day, and they're headed to Vegas.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, the Lemmen brothers are going to Las Vegas to compete in Jiu-Jitsu CON Kids International.

Kalista will also be competing in a national tournament on that day in Vegas.

"We're a competition-based school," Kalista said about the brothers. "Those kids put in work at home and here at the gym. They're always the first ones to show up and last ones to leave. Their father's probably their biggest supporter we have in the gym. He's always there for anything we got going on. Pretty much every tournament we've been to, we've placed. The boys are going to be going down to Vegas along with myself. I'm doing the world championships and they're doing the Jiu-Jitsu CON; the biggest kid’s tournament in the nation. They're expected to do really good, especially with beginning training less than a year ago."

The Lemmen brothers are always in the gym.

Kalista felt that what made them so good is that they are always placed in positions to get better.

"The biggest improvement is that they train fulltime," Kalista said. "They leave here and go home, and their dad puts them on a nice schedule of weightlifting and nutrition to keep them in good shape. They listen. They understand that God gave them two ears and one mouth. So, they listen to their coach and go out and perform really good. We're really proud of their improvements and look forward to the future. It's not about winning and losing – only learning."

As the eldest Lemmen said, size does not affect if the Lemmen brother will step on the mat.

Kalista backed up the statement of size not playing a main factor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

It's more of an art of technique instead of strength and speed.

"Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is called 'the gentle art,'" Kalista said about the fighting style. "It's the last sport where it's a David vs. Goliath-like sport. A 125 lb. man can beat a 225 lb. man off leverage and techniques that jiu-jitsu offers. It's one of the best martial arts for people who've been bullied and women. In my opinion, it's the best self-defense martial art there is. A lot of law enforcement places in Georgia have adopted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a mandatory thing for their police officers. Marietta is one of the main ones. 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel' just did a piece on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about police departments picking it up as a way to detain a person without having to cost physical harm. It's for everyone. You don't have to be an athlete to do jiu-jitsu. You can out of shape and come in here and learn these really good techniques that can help you through life to better it."

With the grandest stage of them all incoming, Kalista knows that this will be a chance for fighters out of his gym to make a name for themselves and put the city of Hinesville on the map.

"We look to make a good impression," he said. "The world is the biggest stage. I'm ready. I've won multiple Pan-Am championships and placed at worlds before. I feel like this is my year to get it. The boys just did Pan-Am and did pretty good. Pan-Am is probably the second most prestigious kid's tournament. And they both did very good there. Like we said, there's no losing, only learning. Either way they're going to come out with something positive. But the main thing is supporting our community, and area. We're trying to make Hinesville and Liberty County known for great athletes in martial arts."

Championship matches will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Team Kalista Martial Arts is located at 809 Willowbrook Dr Suite 112, Hinesville, GA 31313.

Team Kalista Martial Arts can be found on Instagram at: TeamKalistaOfficial

The Lemmen Brothers can be found on Instagram at: LemmenBrothers.BJJ

Kaelum Kalista can be found on Instagram at: KaelumKalista

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