10 year old with local roots travels the world through military dad — and jiujitsu

As the old verbiage goes, saying and doing are two very different things. Some people ‘talk the talk’ but don’t ‘walk the walk’ – but for one kid with local roots, that really isn’t the case. He does and keeps doing; he takes on a task and conquers.

This “kid” has the tenacity of a full-grown adult. At 10 (soon to be 11) years old he has traveled the world more than most do in their entire lives. Currently living in Japan with his parents, Colton Zeisloft does much of this through his passion, jiujitsu.

Though, at his young age, he has not spent much time in the Central Pennsylvania area himself; his local roots stem from his parents, Roy and Melanie Zeisloft. Both are 1996 graduates of Hughesville High School. Roy was born and raised in the Hughesville area, where he lived until he was 20. Colton’s grandparents, Roy and Norma Zeisloft, live in Muncy, Barb and Perry Haldeman, Hughesville, and Glenn Shawl, Hughesville.

“My husband coached elementary wrestling for over 25 years and has been refereeing wrestling tournaments for the past 15 years,” Norma Zeisloft said.

“Colton’s dad, Roy, had wrestled from the time he was five years old through high school. We were a wrestling family but knew very little about jiujitsu.”

First a wrestling family, now the Zeisloft’s also are a military and jiujitsu family, with Roy being in the Air Force. Naturally, they have moved place to place to accommodate his stationing. Currently they are stationed on Yokota Air Base, located in Fussa City – approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Tokyo. They endured the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

With the family history in wrestling, the family had always been interested in martial arts. Colton was initially introduced to the martial arts, Tae Kwon Do specifically, at three years old while they were stationed in Utah. In 2008, Roy was ordered to Korea and there, Melanie enrolled in Kuk Su Won, a Korean martial art.

“Colton had an interest in them [Kuk Su Won, Tae Kwon Do] but you could tell something was missing. When we moved to Japan in 2009, we looked at what was available to us on base,” Roy said. “Jiujitsu was an option.”

After observing a class, they learned that jiujitsu is very similar to wrestling, the Zeisloft’s first passion, but incorporates martial arts.

Jiujitsu, specifically, is defined as an art of weaponless fighting that employs holds, throws and paralyzing blows to subdue or disable an opponent, according to Merriam-Webster. It was developed around the 17th century by the Samurai, a warrior class in Japan.

Colton has attained many accomplishments through his jiujitsu work and has trained with some of the most renowned instructors. He competed in the Pan American Kids Tournament, California, and took first place; All Japan Championship, Hamamatsu, Japan, first place; East Japan Championship, Tokyo, first place; West Japan Championship, Nagoya, Japan, first place, all in 2012; and most recently, in April, the Abu Dhabi World Pro Championship, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where he took third place.

“The Abu Dhabi World Pro Championships is one of, if not the largest, tournament in the world for jiujitsu,” Roy said.

This year, according to Roy, the Emirate Jiujitsu Federation had 10 all-expenses-paid travel packages available for six different countries to bring kids to compete.

Those countries included the United States, Brazil, Japan, China, UAE and the United Kingdom. Kids from Jordan, Egypt and Qatar also competed, he said.

Colton traveled with nine other kids from Japan to the championship in the UAE, and only the chaperones and one other were able to speak English. His parents were unable to go, but, Roy said, although they were not with him, he was still with his family – his jiujitsu family.

He said the competition is divided in several ways, including age and weight classes, and also similar skill levels and belt ranks.

At the Abu Dhabi competition, Colton fought a few tough matches against Brazilians. Brazil is known for jiujitsu, it has its own form called Brazilian jiujitsu.

“Colton walked off the mat holding his head high. He was proud of the way he fought,” Roy said, when Colton was defeated by his second opponent.

“He just needed to train harder and learn from the experience and know that it was an honor to be chosen for this tournament,” he said, adding that winning and losing aren’t as important as learning.

Very slowly, through his travels and his passion, jiujitsu, Colton is learning, very much. Every morning, Colton said, he is able to wake up and see Mount Fuji from their base and regularly enjoys seeing Japan’s ancient temples and shrines. He also is slowly picking up other languages, including Japanese and Portuguese. Many of their friends are Brazilians and they also have intentions of traveling to Brazil to train there.

“Jiujitsu is not just for competition, but also for self-defense. I believe everyone should try to learn a way to defend themselves,” Roy said, noting bullying with kids, specifically.

“When Colton was in school in South Carolina and even here in Japan, he found himself being bullied by some of his classmates. He is quite shy by nature and often times kids see this and will exert their dominance just because someone is different,” he said, noting that they do not condone fighting, but do believe in standing up for themselves.

And Colton does. His father also has instructed his son in jiujitsu. He says some of Colton’s superior abilities are a mystery but claims Colton is a “sponge” and learns even when it seems like it wouldn’t be possible; he has taken classes only spoken in Japanese or Portuguese and, somehow, understood every detail.

His dedication and willingness to learn are attributed to his consistent success.

“He always adventures out of his comfort zone and tries different things. Most students want one thing: to win. If you sit back and watch him train, he will try something, if it works – great – he can add that to his techniques. If not, he will recover his position and you can see him analyzing to himself why it didn’t (work).”

Although Colton does miss some of his friends from the states, he said that many kids do not get the opportunities he has gotten, so he is thankful for that. And while he seems like a unique, out-of-this-world kid, he does enjoy the same activities that many boys his age do, like swimming, skateboarding and biking. His inspirations come from his parents and his sister, and Professor Takamasa Watanabe, his instructor.

The Zeisloft’s will be moving again, according to Colton’s grandmother, Norma, in September to the Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico.

“(In the future) I want to become a world champion and open my own dojo,” Colton said.

With his track record, it seems Colton Zeisloft is on a path to achieving those goals. This 10-year-old jiujitsu champion takes on a task and conquers; he can talk the talk and walk the walk.