A 10-year-old Merritt girl just won a gold medal at a Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition this month.

Competing in the white belt category, Alexis Dawson made her mark in the fiercely competitive world of martial arts. The championship, held at Calgary over the weekend of Jan. 13, saw young athletes from across Canada test their mettle in various weight classes and skill levels.

Ashleigh Huston, Dawson’s mother, said that this was the first time ever her daughter participated in an official jiu jitsu competition.

“First ever tournament and she got to win a gold (medal), so she’s really excited,” Huston said.

Huston couldn’t hold back her pride and joy at her daughter’s achievement.

“I am very proud for sure,” Huston said. “I’m also very grateful just because she’s learned a lot from it (the tournament), not only just being more physically active.”

She said that Brazilian jiu jitsu was her husband’s hobby for the longest time and they both always tried to put her in different sports, but it was never Dawson’s thing. The opportunity came after Adelphi Grappling, a local martial arts gym run by her friend Matt Wycotte and his 15-year-old son Kasey Wycotte, opened in town.

“I think the first week she was kind of a little hesitant about it, and then after that, we can’t get her out of the gym,” Huston said. “She just fell in love with it.”

Huston said that her daughter has been attending classes five days a week at the gym and sees her daughter’s progress in the sport.

“The gym just opened up and her coach is a 15-year-old,” she said. “It was really awesome watching the two of them grow together and the amount she’s learned … It’s a big accomplishment for all of them.”

She mentioned that the tournament gave Dawson the opportunity to use more of her critical thinking skills and find the right technique.

“Her struggle up until she went to the tournament was trying to think of or come up with several ideas, because you know, you can’t just be like ‘ok, i’m gonna do this move, this move, that move and that’s it’,” Huston said. “She got to use those alternate thinking skills to kinda think outside of the box.”

Dawson might add another medal to her collection soon as she is set to compete once again on Feb. 10 in Kelowna.