OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - A Texas father wanted to teach his nine-year-old daughter self-defense after she was being bullied in a lower grade. In the process, the "Mayan Warrior" from San Antonio found Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has since won pro-level tournaments and defeated boy's bigger than her in submissions-only tournaments.
Apolonia Nuncio's older sister recently shared video of the young athlete competing against a boy larger than her and it quickly spread on social media. And while she doesn't routinely compete against boys, her dad said it's business as usual. The young fighter walked away with gold that night and now she's this week's talent on That Kid's Got Game.
Apolonia won for the 60 to 70-pound weight class in the tournament where wins are only earned through joint-locks and chokes. She weighs 56 pounds.
"The sport is not a game of power and strength," said Apolonia's dad Gilbert Nuncio. "It's more of a game of skill and technique, allowing a smaller fighter to beat a larger opponent."
Nuncio said he took Apolonia to a "bully-proof" jiu-jitsu class within a week of discovering how his daughter's classmates were treating her. He added that kind of behavior is "not-tolerated" and it is important people stand up for themselves.
With over two years of competition experience and four years of training, Apolonia is practicing five days a week for three hours a day with a relatively advanced school. Nuncio said most jiu-jitsu training regiments for young athletes do not include anything below the waist. But at 10th Planet in San Antonio, Apolonia has been learning things like "leg-locks" for a few years, Nuncio said.
Apolonia has won gold three-times at Submission Hunter Pro grappling events and she's twice a gold medalist in the expert division of the National American Grappling Association. She was also invited to the Onnit Invitational 10, where she won for her age via arm-bar.
Her father, who added that his seven-year-old daughter also fights but his 19-year-old daughter does not, says the inverted arm-bar is Apolonia's go-to finishing move. It compliments her fighting style well. "It's just attack mode. She can't wait to see what you're going to try, because she already has a game plan.," Nuncio said. "Once they start attacking, they open doors for her to expose their mistakes."
That Kid's Got Game was created as a fun way to display kids with standout sports skills. If you have game, or you want know someone with game, we want to see it. Visit here for information on how to submit.