Many of us have a talent. Maybe it’s sports, school, making people laugh, or dance. Everybody has something that they are good at. Then, there are the exceptionally good. The ones that make it look easy, too easy. This is the case for (my cousins) Nikki and Kirk Jenkins, two siblings who are exceptionally good at martial arts. Both siblings can be seen in competitions knocking out their opponents effortlessly with a single kick or punch. As some may watch and agree on pure talent and others may agree on destiny, but having two parents as world champions martial artists makes it a family affair.
Both siblings were born and raised in Bealeton, Virginia, and graduated from Liberty High School but have pursued different directions in martial arts. Nikki has had a passion for martial arts from a young age. She was a part of numerous clubs in high school, such as National Honor Society, SCA, and Spanish Honor Society. In addition to her involvement in school, she was also a four season athlete, playing volleyball, soccer, cross country, track, and cheerleading. Her two younger brothers, Kirk and Christian, are also involved in martial arts. She is the oldest of many cousins and is a charismatic and loving person. She is a James Madison University alumni and now teaches science at Kettle Run High School.
Like his sister, Kirk was an elite athlete and a part of the football team at Liberty High. Graduating from Bridgewater University, Kirk took an unexpected route and pursued a career as a stunt man. But unlike most people, both Nikki and Kirk’s passion for martial arts was more than just a childhood hobby. It lead them both to the title of World Champion.
Most two-year olds find themselves playing with dolls or wearing a pink princess dress; Nikki was found in a white uniform working on her kicks at her father’s Karate Sports Academy. By age nine, Nikki had mastered karate and received her first black belt. She began to compete in matches, nationally and internationally, traveling all over the world to places such as Tobago, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Ireland, and the UK. In 1994, she was awarded the title as the underbelt. She is a 4th degree black belt competitor and holds a position on the US Martial Arts Team. Jenkins has won numerous medals and titles: in 2002 she was the AAU Joel Ferrell Outstanding Performance Award winner for Taekwondo. From 2012 to 2016, she was the undefeated Female Champion of Martial Arts on the WOMMA Team America and will defend her title this summer. In addition to being a world champion, she is the head coach for the Team America Elite, a team of the top 25 martial artists.
Nikki’s parents, Ronald and Carolyn Jenkins, were the main contributors to her success. When asked about her inspirations and influences, Jenkins replied,“ My parents, because growing up they were a part of world championships and [were] on the US team called DKT Force One. I wanted to be just like them, because we were always around elite athletes and wanted to be professional like them.”
Like Nikki, Kirk began karate at the age of two. He competed in the Junior Olympics and won three Joel Farrell awards. He is a 3rd degree black belt and has practiced Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do for 25 years and competed for over ten years. He became a world Champion in martial arts in 2013. Kirk’s love for martial arts has played a role in his career, allowing him to pursue a career as a stunt man. Kirk has been featured in various movies, tv shows, and music videos such as Empire, the Marvel franchise, Hidden Figures, Mother’s Day and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video. When asked what made him become a stuntman, he replied, “Growing up in the martial arts and having my father coach a team, I was able to meet and grow up around people who went into the stunt business. I have always looked up to those guys and inspired to be in them.”
There is no doubt the these two sibling are living the dream. As many of us dream for our talent to become a reality, Kirk and Nikki have already made theirs come true. “It’s amazing, to see someone you know, appear on tv or hear about how they are a champion,” says Dale Mason, their loving aunt. These two young adults are not just living proof of a dream come true, but are the product of good ethics, persistence, and dedication making anything possible.
All photos courtesy of Nikki and Kirk Jenkins.