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For Rosemount siblings, fighting runs in the family

Karter Holthusen and his sister Kasey Noll have both found success in their own way in the world of martial arts fighting. Karter has a 42-10 record in jiu jitsu competitions and Noll finds work photographing mixed martial arts cage fights.

For the past two years, Kasey Noll and Karter Holthusen have turned broken bones and dislocated joints into an opportunity for a little brother-sister bonding.

Noll and Holthusen have both found an avenue for self-expression in the world of martial arts fighting. For Noll, a 2009 graduate of Rosemount High School, that means capturing the personalities and actions of the fighters in photographs. Her brother prefers to be the one in the ring, wrestling opponents to the ground and in some cases choking them until they lose consciousness.

Holthusen, a 16-year-old student at RHS, got this whole process started two years ago when he stumbled upon Petushin Martial Arts, a jiu jitsu gym in downtown Rosemount. He was intrigued, and he started taking classes with a few of his friends. Those friends have since dropped out, but Holthusen found something he loved.

"I could express myself through fighting," he said. "It gave me a goal to work toward.... I feel like I can be the real me out there."

Apparently the real Karter Holthusen is really good at getting people to ask for mercy. Competing in the adult division of national tournaments, against opponents who are all at least 18 and sometimes 30 or older, Holthusen has a record of 42-10. He has avenged all of his losses and is proud of the fact he has never submitted in a fight. Either he's lost consciousness - that has happened twice, he said - or the official has stopped the fight.

Holthusen, who also wrestles for the Rosemount High School, trains twice a day, every day. He teaches classes at Petushin, and he plans to start taking boxing lessons soon in preparation for the day when he turns 18 and can compete in Ultimate Fighting-style cage fights. He has already limited his career options to either professional mixed martial arts fighter or United States Marine.

Noll discovered her love for photography in a similarly random, if less bruise-inducing way. She was a student at RHS and a member of the school's tennis team when she decided the yearbook wasn't doing a good enough job photographing the team. So, she volunteered.

Her photo work grew from there. She took photos in college, and she has started her own business, Kasey Jean Photography. Noll takes wedding photos and senior portraits, but what she really loves is the work she does photographing bands and fighters.

That might seem like two very different assignments, but Noll sees similarities. She likes the dedication it takes to be successful in either area. In music and in fighting, you can't just show up on the day of the event and hope to be successful.

"I do the weddings. I do the seniors, but there's definitely a different clientele here," Noll said. "There's a dedication. It really shows."

There are some big differences between music and fight photography, of course.

"I don't get blood on my lenses when I photograph music," Noll said.

Noll was a fight fan before she started getting work photographing local competitions, but she her involvement and Karter's have helped her better understand what's happening and, more important for her work as a photographer, what is probably about to happen.

For the time being, at least, Noll's role as professional fight photographer does not intersect much with Holthusen's role as a fighter. When Noll is at her brother's fights, she's there as a fan and a family member first, a photographer second. It's at the bigger cage fights where Noll makes her money.

Things could change, though, if Karter advances according to his plans.

"I'm just kind of anticipating the day when I have to take pictures of him in the cage and being a nervous wreck," Noll said.