13-year-old jujitsu competitor takes mat at biggest fitness event in Austin

Thousands of people showed up to the Austin Fit Fest to participate in and watch strongman, CrossFit, powerlifting, weightlifting, arm wrestling, and jujitsu competitions at the Palmer Events Center on Saturday.

Thirteen-year-old Apolonia Nuncio, known as ‘Apple’ on the mat, was one of about 75 kids competing in jujitsu at the Austin Fit Fest. "I enjoy getting here every day and working out and training myself and getting better every day," she said.

She said she started jujitsu about seven years ago.

"Not to get picked on at school because I was always the smaller [one], and it happened once an incident I got picked on, and it would never happen again,'" Nuncio said. '"Now I know I can defend myself."

Jujitsu is submission-based wrestling which coach Jacob Norton says builds kids up mentally and physically.

"It builds their confidence up a lot, they really start walking around as a different person, they can hold themselves a lot better," Norton said.

He said it also teaches discipline and focus, coordination and body awareness, self-defense, and socialization.

"Getting them in the gym, having them around other kids and us as coaches when we're running a class, that's us cultivating a good room and building good kids," Norton said.

He said it keeps them out of trouble and encourages them to strive to accomplish their goals with their teammates and coaches in their corner. "I need a team to be able to build me up and that's the community we have at 10th Planet Austin, that's kind of how we build up these kids," Norton said.

Norton said Apple is the next generation of jujitsu and is already inspiring many people. "Those adults are like looking up to her," Norton said.

"That's crazy I'm an inspiration to older people, it makes me feel more confident so when I step out on the mats, I know I'm not doing it just for myself, I'm doing it to show people that you can do it too, no matter what," Nuncio said.

Apple said her dream is to be a black belt by the time she turns 18.