In the 30 years that he's been teaching martial arts at West America Tae Kwon Do in Mill Valley, Roger Carlon has produced innumerable standout competitors, including his kids, Chantal and Roger Jr.
The latest in a long line of Carlon's proteges is James Gilbeaux, a 19-year-old Benicia resident who garnered first place last month at the World Taekwondo Culture Expo in Muju, South Korea.
Gilbeaux, who was 18 at the time of the event, defeated his 24-year-old Nepalese competitor 18-5 to take home the top prize.
"My strategy was to bait him into coming forward," Gilbeaux told the Vallejo Times-Herald. "I try to use a bunch of different styles. That had been my strategy for a month."
Carlon's West America Tae Kwon Do school took home six medals representing the U.S. during the event. Mieke Rosecrans and Gilbeaux brought home first-place medals, while fellow black belt students Roger Carlon Jr. finished second and Chantal Carlon and Camille Beuadan were third.
Gilbeaux told the newspaper that he has been involved in martial arts since he was 7 years old. He first learned Kajukenbo, a hybrid martial art form that combines Western Boxing, Judo, Jujutsu, Kenpo Karate, Eskrima, Tang Soo Do and Kung Fu. But he quickly fell in love with Tae Kwon Do when he started training with Carlon in Mill Valley.
Gilbeaux attends Napa Valley College and is teaching his own classes at the studio in Mill Valley.