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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 20, 2001 - Issue 47


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 Eagle Butte Teen Gets Her Kicks Through Martial Arts


 by By Heidi Bell Gease, Rapid City Journal Staff Writer-October 15, 2001

EAGLE BUTTE -- Cheyenne-Eagle Butte seventh-grader Jordyn Brown isn't one to boast about her accomplishments. But the rows of trophies and medals she has won speak for themselves.

At 13, Brown is the first ever American Indian woman inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame. A member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, she was honored as Junior Martial Artist of the Year at an August awards ceremony in Tulsa, Okla.

Her longtime instructor at Yellow Hawk Warriors Martial Arts Club, Corbin LeBeau Sr., was named Instructor of the Year.

Brown, the daughter of Gayle Lofton and Benjamin Brown, began studying martial arts at age 7. Lofton said her children were angry after their stepfather died, so she enrolled Jordyn and her brother, Dustin, now 14, in martial arts.

"I decided to get them both in it to see if it would help them cope," said Lofton, who now lives in Rapid City. "Apparently, it worked (for her), because she's still there."

Dustin eventually lost interest. Jordyn earned her black belt at 10, going on to win more than 100 awards. She often sparred with boys, but LeBeau said Jordyn was at no disadvantage.

"She knows how to read fighters very well," he said, and that's been a key to her success. Determination is another key. "She's taken some hard licks. The trick is, she just keeps getting back up."

Wins at the SiKaran-Arnis International Tournament in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, made Jordyn an international champion. She was also South Dakota State Submission Jujitsu champion two years in a row, but she's most proud of an award that came from LeBeau, who is also her godfather: He named her Most Dedicated Advance Pee Wee Martial Artist in 1996-97.

Jordyn lives with her grandmother, Theresa Lofton. The entire family sometimes travels to Jordyn's tournaments, where, Gayle jokes: "I'm only known as Jordyn's mom. I don't even have an identity anymore."

Donations pay the club's travel expenses (
see accompanying story). Donations also helped send Jordyn and her family to the black-tie awards ceremony.

LeBeau, a nurse at Indian Health Services, was unable to attend. "I spent my time in the emergency room," he said.

Jordyn now spends a few nights a week at the martial arts club as an assistant instructor. "Sometimes we forget how old she is. She knows her stuff," LeBeau said. Jordyn reads students like she reads opponents, tailoring her teaching to the individual.

Her students know she's in the Hall of Fame. "There's been more kids joining since they found out," she said.

Theresa Lofton believes they can benefit from martial arts the way her granddaughter did.

"It helps with being respectful, and discipline. Jordyn is not the type that's a follower. She's a leader," even though she's quiet, Theresa said. "I think, overall, it just helped her with her self-esteem."

An honor student, Jordyn also plays basketball and softball. Her main goal is to be part of a U.S. Olympics martial-arts team, but Gayle said she also wants to play in the WNBA. "No small goals for her," Gayle said.

LeBeau believes studying martial arts has helped Jordyn learn to set and achieve goals. "I'm curious what she's going to do next," he said.

    Maps by Travel


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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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