This week’s whiz kid is a three-time National Karate Champion, swept the U.S. Open World Martial Arts Championships, scored in the 99.9th percentile on an intelligence exam, and has solved the Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes. And if those statistics haven’t impressed you yet, here’s the kicker: she’s 8 years old. Kaelyn, a student at La Jolla Elementary School, has garnered local and national attention for her incredible martial arts skills.
Whiz Kid: Kaelyn
Accomplishment: Called a prodigy by many, including her instructor, Kaelyn is a three-time National Karate Champion.
Key to Awesomeness: Turns out that Kaelyn’s success in martial arts began with a twist of fate at age 3.
“Kaelyn was extremely shy, always hiding behind us and never speaking up,” her father, Jim said. “We were looking for a way to bring her out of her shell.”
After a short-lived and generally unsuccessful bout with the youth theater, Jim spotted a poster for martial arts training.
“The poster said ‘Confidence, discipline, respect,’ I thought that sounded pretty good so we gave it a shot.”
Kaelyn’s attraction to martial arts was immediate. After just a few short lessons she had already impressed her instructor, was enjoying herself, and finally began showing more of her personality. Just nine short months after beginning training, Kaelyn entered her first competition. By age 5, she had memorized every karate form through the black belt level. Today, Kaelyn is the youngest member of her dojo, USA Freestyle Martial Arts, to ever have competed as a Black Belt. In addition, she has over 50 first place tournament wins, including the 2011 AKA Grand Nationals where she competed as a Black Belt.
One thing that draws Kaelyn to martial arts is the endless possibilities involved.
“I like that you can do different things,” she said. “You can do flips or there are forms with punches and strikes. If you add all that together you can make something really cool and I like creativeness of it.”
Despite performing in front of hundreds of people, Kaelyn says she doesn’t let stage fright get the best of her. Her martial arts training has even led to several public speaking engagements.
“Most of the time I’m focused on what I’m doing and it’s something that I love so I’m happy that I’m up there and focused,” she said.
What started out as a way to make Kaelyn more outgoing has turned into a much larger experience than her entire family could have ever imagined. But even as a serious competitor in world championships, Kaelyn hasn’t lost the kid in her. Along with training two to three times a week, she also finds time for other things she enjoys like horseback riding, singing, and playing piano.
Do you know a who deserves recognition? Send us your nominations.