Columbia, S.C. (WLTX)-He's one of the best in his craft, now he's competing against the best in the world!
But when you think of Shuai Jiao or Chinese wrestling, the south may not be the first place that comes to mind.
"When you hear Kung fu... automatically you're going to think of Asia," said Lavell Marshall who has been training for two decades. "Really kung fu means hard work in a skill acquired through time. It doesn't matter where you're from...Columbia South Carolina, Canada, New Zealand, as long as you're putting in hard work in something that you do."
Lavell and his kung fu brothers from the Combat Mixed Martial Arts fight school have been training for months.
"It's painful," said Lavell. "Every day you're getting hit. You have to hold stances for 30 minutes."
From flips, to hours of core strength and precision training-the team worked tirelessly to make sure they were prepared to represent the Midlands on the US team in the International Shuai Jiao competition.
"It's like going to Hollywood if you're an actor...or the NBA finals for basketball," said team-mate Matthew LaBorde. "This is essentially our Olympics."
They've got the skills, technique, and even the look down. Lavell has been growing what he calls a 'warrior braid.' It symbolizes his growth in the arts and being a student in his craft. He doesn't plan to cut it until he becomes a master in Kung Fu.
A win in China would not only be a lifelong dream fulfilled, but the biggest thank you to a community that believed.
Family, friends, and strangers donated more than $2,000 to help him make this dream a reality.
"Sometimes it makes me want to cry," Lavell added. "You can be tough if you want to, but it's like- someone that I don't even know may not have a lot of money, but they have given it to me... in order to see my dreams come true. There's just no words."
"I want to show that Columbia has some good talent and skill," said Lavell.
"If you really look, Columbia has pockets of amazing talented and dedicated people, and this is a chance to show it doesn't matter where you're from," said Matthew. " It doesn't matter what you've done in the past, you can do anything you want to."
The team is still in China. Lavell lost one match to Russia, but beat the Canadian, Mongolian and Australian teams. He's already been invited to fight in Mongolia's tournament next year.