Born with a rare condition that prevents them from sweating and releasing heat, Elan and Winter Breget were told as tykes that athletics or anything physical were off limits.
The easy-going Armstrong brothers turned to jiu-jitsu five years ago, a martial art that has given them a healthier and stronger core. Today, they are world champions.
“Since their core temperature does not cool itself they run the risk of overheating and going into breathing distress,” said mom Valerie Breget. “The boys proved the doctors to be wrong and were determined to succeed, by keeping calm and training their bodies.”
The big payoff came at the world championships at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
Elan obtained world champion status in No-Gi and silver in Gi, while Winter secured silver in No-Gi and gold in Gi.
“It was a big change for me but a very positive one,” said Elan, a Grade 7 student at Len Wood Middle School. “I’m going to keep training hard and get better for the next Worlds.”
Said 10-year-old Winter: “I found it very high competition and I really enjoyed myself but I was determined to win.”
The brothers train under Mario Deveault and Hayden Francis at the North Okanagan Shuswap Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & MMA facilities in Vernon and Salmon Arm. Elan and Winter train three times a week and are at an orange belt level.
“They’re awesome,” said Deveault. “They have a hard time getting fights because they have progressed so fast. They have a strong work ethic; they train at home as well.”
Deveault trusts the brothers so much he now has them learning how to teach private lessons .
“They are very respectful and easy to coach,” said Deveault. “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Their parents (father Dennis) are very supportive and fine with them fighting older kids in tournaments.”
In 2011, they tried their first competition at the Revolution club in Langley and they both struck gold. Since then, they have been in 31 competitions and their bedrooms are overflowing with trophies, belts and Samurai swords. Elan has won fastest submission of kids and adults with a seven-second victory.
Winter has since submitted an opponent in four seconds. Most of their medals are gold and they have stood on the podium a staggering 97 times.
“Jiu-jitsu was always helping me be active,” said the ever-smiling Winter. “It was more fun when I got better and I could show my friends my medals. My parents were calling me Ironman. I got my first medal when I was at Revolution and I was probably the youngest orange belt in B.C.”
Winter says Deveault shows them numerous moves and makes training fun with different games.
Elan, the quieter of the two polite and amiable brothers, is 10 pounds lighter than Winter.
“I’m more technical and he’s more about strength,” said Elan. “We were in Little Bears when we started and we got bumped up because nobody wanted to wrestle us. We went to a higher class and we started dominating.”
Winter often fights kids two and three years older than him and wins.
“They have plans to help kids with self-confidence and create a anti-bullying program to show kids anything is possible,” said Valerie. “They would like to travel Canada promoting jiu-jitsu.”