8 year old black belt to display karate skills on Jimmy Kimmel show
Herrin boy to display karate skills on Jimmy Kimmel show
BY JOHN D. HOMAN, the southern
HERRIN - An 8-year-old second-grader at Herrin Elementary School will get some national face time next week after being invited to be a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," a late-night talk show that airs Monday through Friday at 12:05 a.m. on ABC.
Preston Barden, an accomplished martial arts performer who has competed in karate since he was 4 and won numerous competitions nationwide, will fly to Hollywood with his parents, Don and Vonda, and be asked to put on a demonstration in his segment of the show.
"We sent a video to the show and got a call back asking us for more information and more video of his past performances," Vonda Barden said.
Vonda said she didn't know specifically which routine show producers will ask her son to perform, but said her son mixes in gymnastics with his karate and also has a sword routine, which will likely be used.
"They definitely want him," she said. "I heard back today from one of the show's producers who said he would probably be asked to come out next Monday or Tuesday. It's about as close to live TV as it can be, as the show airs only two hours after it is taped."
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Don Barden said his son, an honor roll student, is as excited about getting the opportunity to take his first plane ride as he is about performing on
"Everybody's shocked and excited," he said.
Don said his son was sitting on the couch one day watching Power Rangers on television and proclaimed that he wanted to be a Ranger, too.
"I told him he would have to become good at the martial arts if he ever wanted to do that and he said he wanted to learn, so we took him to a karate class and the rest is history," Don said. "We knew within six months that he had a special talent. He retained everything he was taught."
Martial arts instructor John Harriss with the American Tae Kwon Do Academy in West Frankfort said the youngster is a natural.
"Preston trains hard and is very talented," Harriss said. "Right now, he's performing traditional Tae Kwon Do. He is trying to master the basic hand and foot techniques, certain stances and forms, power kicks, fly kicks, jump kicks and multiple punches."
Harriss said Barden's combination of youth and talent makes him a rare commodity.
"Martial arts has taught him many things, including coordination skills, discipline, focus and respect for elders. I'm sure it has helped make him a better student in school."
Having won competitions in his age division in St. Louis, Atlanta, Orlando, St. Paul and Las Vegas, Barden is currently ranked No. 1 in advanced forms and sparring for boys 7-8 years of age. Moreover, he is top-ranked in advanced weapons for boys 17 and under and tops in all age categories in black belt musical forms.
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