Young Karate Student Lands Lead on New Disney Show “Kickin It”

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Young Karate Student Lands Lead on New Disney ShowHave you checked out the new Disney XD show “Kickin’ It” yet?

It’s about a crew of misfits enrolled at an underperforming dojo. They recruit the new kid in town, a skateboarder named Jack, whom they hope will help them improve.

The Orange County Register recently interviewed star Leo Howard, a black belt in Shorin Ryu karate and a three-time world champion, about how he got his start in show business:

Leo got his start thanks to his unusually early interest in martial arts.

“I was four years old, which is a little wacky, because what four-year-old goes out and says I want to do karate?” he says. “But I just had this weird passion for it and I just couldn’t get enough.”

His parents enrolled him at a dojo in Oceanside, and from those early days all he really remembers is “just everyone being so much taller than me,” Leo says. “When I was 5 or 6 my parents got another dojo that was really strong in another style called Shorin Ryu, and that’s when it really took off.”

As his martial arts skills accelerated, he soon hooked up with Matt Mullins, who ran an extreme martial arts performing group called Sideswipe that put on demonstrations of karate, acrobatics and the like all over the world.

“I think that’s what really got me addicted to performing,” Leo says. “My role changed as I’ve grown as a performer and just plain grown. I was OK, I wasn’t that great at the start, so they would do cool moves and then poof! Here’d be this cute kid running out there to do some karate. But for the last couple of years I’ve been one of the main performers.”

It was at a martial arts tournament that someone saw him and thought he might have a look the entertainment industry would like and referred him to their agent. For there he did print modeling, then commercials.

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