The karate kid

Mike Cleland '17 and Adrianna Lopez '17

Taking fifth place at the 2015 Karate World Championships in Slovenia isn’t your everyday occurrence. Noah Kaiden ‘17 is a decorated Karate competitor.

“Being the only American was how I expected to feel. It was just overwhelming with emotion and pride.” Kaiden expressed. “I was out in a foreign country representing everything I worked hard for and I made it farther than I ever imagined. It was a true honor.”

After picking up karate at the age of four, Kaiden found a love for the sport and has continued to work at it ever since.

“I first started karate when I was four because my mom wanted me to have something to keep me busy,” said Kaiden. “I really liked it and wanted to stick with it and be very successful at it.”

Noah was adopted by Marla Kaiden and Ann Marie Sink when he was 10 months old. His mother, Marla Kaiden, felt it was important for Noah to be involved in a sport that was closely related to his roots.

“I wanted him in a sport that had a high degree of Asian participation to keep him connected to an Asian practice, had both an individual and team component and a sport that required discipline and practice,” said Marla Kaidan.

Kaiden began competing in the Amateur Athletic Union during his freshman year, unfortunately losing in every tournament.

“[To get better] I watched other competitors. I observed the etiquette and styles they practiced. I watched international competitors on YouTube and tried to incorporate that into my style,” said Kaiden.

Building off of his disappointing first year of competitions, Kaiden has been able to find much success since. In 2015, he placed first at the district and regional competitions, took third at nationals and finally finished fifth at the World Championships. Kaiden credits his sensei Jay Nacu.

“He opened his dojo around the same time I started learning karate so we kind of took the journey together, “ said Kaiden. “ He exposed me to the other world of karate and expanded my vision. He taught me what I know and I’m very grateful for that.”

With such positive results from the 2015 tournament year, Kaiden was placed yet again on the national team for the 2016-2017 season. He recently travelled to Hawaii to compete in another international tournament placing 4th in the division.

“I feel I improved because I trained harder and devoted more time towards the competition. The weeks before were constant practice and critique by coaches.”

It is safe to say that Kaiden’s hard work and patience has paid off. Despite not competing in events until his freshman year in high school, Kaiden has still been able to find success on a regular basis. His sensei, Jay Nacu, describes Kaiden as something special.

“The sport of karate takes years to master and the fact that he has already seen victory says a lot about his character. He is still continuing to get better day by day and I hope this is something he can do for the rest of his life,” says Nacu.

Aside from the the sport itself, Kaiden has found that karate has helped him to meet new people.

“When you are selected to represent your country, you are selected along with other kids from different states. The time I spent with my teammates in Slovenia helped me form friendships that I still hold close to me.”

Besides meeting new people from around to world, Kaiden’s favorite part of traveling for the sport is experiencing new places. His most recent trip to Slovenia for the World Championships was his favorite.

“The things I saw, and the places I went were incredible. Having the opportunity to see new places while doing something I love is a blessing and I am very thankful for it,” says Kaiden.

Noah is not the only one thankful for his exposure to other nationalities. His mother Marla is also very proud of the connections her son has made.

“When we chose to put him on with karate, I don’t think we realized how we would be changing his life in improving his connections and interactions with people at home and internationally,” said his mother Marla.

Kaiden describes karate as a sport that requires listening and patience. He also says that the sport is very humbling because you learn to win and lose with grace.

“Anyone can swing their leg and kick somebody, but to be truly successful you have to focus on detail, respect the history and listen to your elders because they can teach you,” said Kaiden.

Kaiden hopes for a chance to compete in the Collegiate Olympics sometime during his college years, and later possibly tryout for the USA Olympic team for the 2024 Summer Olympics. He explained that participating in  the upcoming 2020 Olympics is not very realistic for him because it would intervene with his education.

“I’m not that interested in participating [in 2020] because I’ll be in college and focusing on a very time consuming major in computer engineering,” said Kaiden. “I don’t believe I have what it takes to compete on the Olympic stage by that age either.”

Though he might not represent us at the Olympic games any time soon, no doubt Kaiden will always be known as Jones’ own karate master.