Arnold martial arts studio takes home 14 medals

 

By DONNA L. COLE, Staff Writer

Everybody was kung-fu fighting.

Sounds like a song, but in actuality that's exactly what several martial arts students from the Arnold-based, Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu and Tai Chi were doing at the recent Five Tigers Championship in Columbia.

Not only were they fighting, they were competing - and winning. Of the six who participated in the competition, five took home at least one gold medal.

The total medal count for the competitors from Jing Ying included seven golds, five silvers and two bronzes.

This wasn't just a small, local competition either.

"There were hundreds in the competition from all over the U.S., and I think there were some from out of the country as well," said Billy Greer, owner of Jing Ying and a competitor himself.

Jing Ying's gold medal-winners were Justin Heath of Shady Side, Mike Jefferson, 16, of Annapolis and Tyler Saxe, 15, of Arnold.

Erik Johnson, 7, of Bowie fell just short of winning a medal, but was a finalist in the beginner kids' category.

Mr. Greer won one gold, three silver and one bronze medal, while his 15-year-old daughter, Lane, won three gold, two silver and one bronze. Is this an overzealous sports dad pushing his daughter to excel in the sport he loves?

No way, according to dad and daughter.

"If anything she pushes me," said Mr. Greer. "We really help encourage each other. "

As for his daughter's performance in the competition, Mr. Greer is clearly proud.

"I think it's just a tribute to her dedication and hard training," he said.

Martial arts doesn't seem to be just a passing interest in this teenager's life.

"I plan on continuing it throughout my entire life," said Lane. "I love it."

For both father and daughter, the sport isn't just about competition.

"We're not a tournament school," explained Mr. Greer. "We're not pushing the kids to go out there and win, win, win. It's more about going out there and having fun and pushing ourselves - the focus isn't on coming home with medals."

His daughter seemed to agree about her experience at the Five Tigers Championship.

"I loved it because it's really an opportunity to go out there and see the different styles," said Lane. "It's really fun and you get to interact with people from other schools - I made a lot of friends."

For another member of the Greer family, though, it seemed other priorities came before the competition.

"My son usually competes too, but the last month he was in the midst of his drivers ed training," said Mr. Greer.

But there's a lot of interest in martial arts outside of the Greer family. For the studio directly, enrollment has doubled in three years.

Interestingly, it's not just a kid trend.

"We had three moms who were testing for advancement who also had their children in the program," explained Mr. Greer. "We're finding more parents who bring their kids in for classes and decide hey, this looks like fun, I want to do this too."

In addition to their regular classes and camps, Jing Ying does host special events throughout the year.

"We've been very fortunate to get some top masters from China to come to the studio to give workshops," said Mr. Greer.

Donna L. Cole is a freelance writer living in Annapolis.

Published July 13, 2007, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

Copyright 2007 The Capital, Annapolis, Md