Delilah Kitsakos, a dedicated martial artist and seventh grader at William McKinley Intermediate School, took home the gold at her first four-day long Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Karate Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 27.
Kitsakos, her older brother Charles, and her father, Alex Kitsakos, were at the AAU National competition in Florida, a long plane ride from their home on the Fort Hamilton Army Base. The convention center was packed with several hundred experienced martial artists.
“At first I was a little intimidated. They were all doing high level stuff and it makes you humble,” said Kitsakos about her competition. “Most of the other girls knew each other and had done it before so they were comfortable. That annoyed me.”
Although seemingly shy in her white gi pants and jacket, Kitsakos exudes confidence in martial arts. It’s this attitude that won her a gold medal in the offensive and defensive form Kata competition, making her the Female 13-year-old Novice Kata National Champion. She also won a bronze medal for Kumite, the art of sparring and kicking.
At the Hoteikan Dojo, at 71st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, she is currently a purple belt participating in the Black Belt Club, a group of kids at the dojo specially trained to become black belts. The dojo, being a few blocks from her school, is basically a second home.
“I remember we were on a cruise with the family and she had a sparring competition at the dojo coming up. So we practiced with the pads on the boat,” said her father, Alex. “The trophy she won was bigger than her.”
Sensei Rebecca Carrano, Kitsakos’s teacher, has been teaching martial arts with her husband for 25 years including helping toddlers learn through their “Little Dragons” program where Kitsakos started. Carrano said, “Definitely, she [Delilah] has the skill and discipline to be a sensei. No ifs about that.”
Since she was four years old, Kitsakos has been practicing her craft, and hopes to one day become a sensei and continue the legacy of the Hoteikan dojo. She believes emphatically in learning how to protect yourself so that you can in turn protect others.