Sport karate competition has been part of Jeff Doss’ life since age 4; read about where it has taken him.
Jeff Doss has been competing since age 4 and has won titles in nearly every league out there – NASKA, NBL, WKA, ISKA and PKC to name a few. He’s won tricking competitions against some of the best but stands out mostly due to his amazing flexibility and innovations with kicks. Doss has gone from student to competitor to school owner to promoter in his 28 years of involvement with sport karate.
Like every top competitor, things didn’t start easy for Doss. When started competing as a 4-year-old yellow belt, he was the smallest and youngest in his division and he didn’t win. In fact, he didn’t win his division at a national level until he became a black belt. As an underbelt, he would win locally sometimes and place nationally with his best finish in 1993 taking three second places at the US Capitol Classics.
He trained with Jon Valera and watching his heroes like Seneca Luther and Valera inspired him and kept him motivated even if he wasn’t at the top of his division through it all. Being small made sparring tough and Doss wanted to quit but realized that working at the division he wasn’t good at would make him a better martial artist all around. Despite setbacks and difficulties with an instructor, his passion for competition grew. He was so in love with competition, he competed at a tournament on the day of his black belt test and then went to his all-night test from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
Doss’ dream was to be the best at a national level. His parents supported him as did his coach Valera. With no sponsor, he and his mom would sell Krispy Kreme donuts and candy bars to raise funds. His first year as a black belt, he won right away in forms but struggled in weapons and fighting. Then success tapered off and he was only taking seconds at best. He learned what it was like to compete a full year at the national level and was totally hooked.
After that first year, things got better for Doss. He started winning more and was noticed by teams. One of his goals was to get on the Karate Kicks Diabetes charity show with Jeff Smith. He reached his goal and was on the show from 1996-1998. Without a lot of tricks in his performances, Doss knew he had to innovate to get noticed. He worked his kicks hard to win in the creative divisions. He mastered some great things like the inverted front kick, performed the first standing 720 and was the first to do two 720s back-t0-back. He found his niche in traditional forms and eventually found a sponsor.
Doss was first picked up by Team Elite in 1996 and was on the team until 2000. Elite changed to Team CJB in 2001 and Doss was on the team until its demise in 2004. He was on some local teams for a bit and then moved to Team Proper from 2010-2013 and is now on Team Hayabusa. He has continued to compete but has also grown up and is now the owner of Grand Slam Martial Arts in Lynchburg, Virginia. After graduating from college in 2006, he opened his school in 2008. In 2010, he held his first tournament – Grand Slam Open – and got a national NBL rating for his event three years later. The Doss heritage in sport karate continues with his own sport karate team featuring top youth and adult competitors like Jacob Watson and Aaron Bailey.
Doss lost a ton of events over the years but he learned from every single event he attended. Once he finally started to get recognized and win, he realized that “if you don’t give up and you keep pushing, you can win.” He also learned his own secrets about competition and making your performances memorable. “You can be the best in the world but if people aren’t watching, then it doesn’t matter.”
The road traveled by Jeff Doss through sport karate competition has led him to become a college graduate, a martial arts school owner, a team coach and a tournament promoter. Where will sport martial arts take you?
Check out Jeff Doss at the Creative Clash competition in 2009: YouTube Link
Jeff Doss performing creative forms at the 2015 US Capitol Classics:YouTube Link
Jeff Doss in the Night of Champions at the 2015 US Open ISKA World Championships: YouTube Link
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