KARATE: TJ's Kiel Hicks headed to Pan American Games, World Championships

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson's Kiel Hicks (center) stands atop the podium at the USA National Karate Championship after winning gold medals in the kumite and kata divisions. Hicks is the top-ranked kata expert in the world in his age group.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Kiel Hicks has plenty of stamps on his well-used passport. The Thomas Jefferson High School junior-to-be will be able to add a couple more in the near future.

Hicks added two more gold medals to his trophy case last month at the United States National Karate Championships and Team Trials in South Carolina. The victories earned Hicks a spot on the team that will represent the United States at the Junior Pan American Karate Championships in Columbia later this month and the Junior World Karate Championships in Spain in November.

Hicks is currently the top-ranked Cadet Kata Male athlete in the world, ahead of athletes from Japan and Belguim. The next-best American is Kamran Madani, who is ranked 74th in the world by the World Karate Federation.

Hicks is the 11th-ranked fighter in the world in the 63-kilogram Cadet Kumite Male division.

In karate, kata is a word that describes detailed patterns of movements practiced in solo. Kata are executed as a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning. The athlete is told to visualize the enemy attacks and their responses. Kumite refers to an actual fighting bout in karate.

At last year’s Junior Pan American Games, Hicks won a gold medal in the boys 14-15-year-old category in the kata (forms) division and brought home a silver medal in the kumite (fighting) division.

This will be Hicks’ fifth year as a member of Team USA. He also competed in Mexico, El Salvador and Canada.

But karate isn’t the only thing that Hicks excels at. The TJ junior is also an accomplished pianist and a nationally-recognized math student. To illustrate the versatility of Hicks, he held his own benefit solo piano concert to raise funds for his trip to Spain for the World Junior Karate Championships.

He was also asked to play at the 100th anniversary of the PTA earlier this year and plays the drums on Thomas Jefferson’s drum line. He also plays the ukelele and the guitar.

In terms of academics, Hicks was nominated for the United States Achievement Academy for Math Excellence, resulting in a selection as one of the Academy’s All-American scholars.

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