SAN DIEGO — Most 12-year-olds don't have resumes.
Even if they did, chances are very few of them would parallel the one San Diego's Bryan Heil has.
At 4-feet 7-inches and 70 pounds, Heil already has become so adept at karate that he earned a first-degree black belt. His list of achievements should be enough to make most of his sixth-grade classmates at Cabrillo Elementary School in Point Loma take notice--or at least treat him with respect.
Since beginning at age 5, Heil has captured 17 first-place awards in karate including the 1982 National AAU Championship in Chicago for juniors 10 and under. He won his first trophy at age 6 and was promoted to a black belt by the time he was 8 by Teruo Hayashi, the Grand Master of the Japan Karate-Do organization. His accomplishments make him one of the favorites in today's World Karate-Do Championships at Sea World's Nautilus Pavilion.
"I saw a lot of commercials when I was 5 1/2 and it seemed like it would be fun," said Heil, describing how he got started. "It has taught me a lot about self-control. Plus, since I've learned to have discipline, I've gotten mostly straight A's in class."
Heil and most of the other students who train at the Japan Sports Center here, say that it has helped them more with their mental outlook than their physical one.
"You're taught that you don't want to get in a fight for any reason," Heil said.
Heil's forte is not fighting. His 1982 National Junior Division Championship resulted mostly because of his expertise in Kata, the art of performing karate without an opponent.
"In the old times, karate was simply self-defense," said Minobu Miki, a sixth-degree black belt, who heads the Sports Center and is the director of today's tournament. "Now, it is more of an art."
During a practice Wednesday, he performed Kata with the determination and intensity of a veteran. His age showed only whenever his mouth full of braces became visible between a pair of clenched fists.
"Bryan is really a joy to have," said Julio Martinez, one of Heil's teachers and a third-place finisher at last month's World Games in London. "So many of the kids come in and go out, but you rarely find many you can really teach. Bryan and boys like him are the future of karate."
Possibly. But, for Heil, it may be difficult to top what he already has accomplished.