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Franklin will ‘jujitsu’ his way to Europe

CHERRY — Jake Franklin of Cherry is headed to Austria next week to compete in an international martial arts tournament.

A 2010 graduate of St. Bede Academy, Franklin qualified for the international Jujitsu Worlds competition after winning his division at the national competition earlier this year at Niagara Falls and after his coach learned there was an opening on this year’s United States team. Franklin will compete in Jujitsu grappling or Ne-waza.

“My coach thought I had earned a chance to fight,” Franklin said.

Traditionally, Jujitsu is a particularly effective combat art designed for taking down opponents even while wearing heavy armor, but as a sport, Jujitsu is very similar to wrestling with a few exceptions, Franklin said.

Growing up in Cherry, Franklin said he’s always had an interest in the martial arts but had little opportunity to try it. When he moved to Macomb to attend college, he heard about the Western Illinois Shotokan Karate dojo, or training, and signed up. He then learned the dojo also offered Jujitsu and signed up for that training as well.

“I really fell in love with both forms of martial arts but had a little edge in Jujitsu because I had wrestled at St. Bede,” Franklin said.

Though Jujitsu is an individual sport, athletes train hard together as a team, Franklin said. The nationals was the first time he had actually fought in a Jujitsu tournament. In Europe, there may be international tournaments every weekend, he said.

To prepare for Jujitsu Worlds, Franklin is doing conditioning/speed and or muscle endurance training once a day six days a week. Plus, he’s doing technique training four or five days a week at the dojo or with friends. He also follows a strict diet. For the last two weeks before he leaves for Europe, Franklin will ensure he makes weight healthily by eating nothing but fruits, vegetables and whey protein.

Franlin said he loves Jujitsu and all martial arts because they are some of the most practical sports.

“Baseball and football are great but when push comes to shove and you have no other options, this may save my own life or someone else’s life some day,” Franklin said. “Also, the sport aspect is very exciting and great practice, especially when you take into account your ability to suppress your nerves, breath calmly in a fight and think rationally while fighting.”

The training, along with the discipline it takes to train outside the dojo, have helped him focus on what he needs to do rather than what he wants to do, Franklin said.

“Of course with any exercise I have become physically stronger but it goes deeper than that,” Franklin said. “I have a much better understanding of body mechanics and how you can train yourself to do things you never thought that you could.”

The son of Dennis and Jeannie Franklin of Cherry, Franklin is a junior at Western Illinois University, majoring in law enforcement justice administration and minoring in homeland security and sociology.

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