Helena Magazine

Meet Your Neighbors: Shawn and Caroline Kirkland encourage their son’s Jiu-Jitsu journey

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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Shawn and Caroline Kirkland first moved to the city of Helena in February 2018 from Montgomery. Prior to their arrival in Helena, Caroline first had her roots in Orlando, FL but relocated to Birmingham after graduating high school to attend Samford University, where she successfully secured a degree in education. Shawn was a Montgomery native, having lived there his entire life save for his five years of active service in the Navy.

Since becoming residents of Helena, Shawn and Caroline have had three children, the oldest of whom is their son, Noah. At only four years old, he is already proving himself to be unique from the average kid his age.

Despite his young age, Noah visibly displays great dedication and enthusiasm for Jiu-Jitsu, which is a popular self-defense martial art and combat sport that is primarily based on practices of grappling, ground fighting and submission holding techniques.

It is a sport that his father, Shawn, has long admired and respected along with its list of great practitioners such as Gordan Ryan and Michael Musumeci.

For the Kirkland family, discipline, fitness, and health aren’t just words but a way of life and they are principles that are taught in Jiu-Jitsu.

Beginning when he was just three years old, Noah began his martial arts journey in August 2022 and immediately developed a passion for it. He quickly developed his own aspirations of participating in tournaments and started doing so in the spring of 2023. To practice, Noah now practices in private coaching sessions every month and attends intermittent competition classes for two to four weeks at a time every few months.

Noah also proudly graduated up to the grey belt this spring and is always eager to learn more techniques that he might use in competition.

Already a champion, Noah has impressively placed in several tournaments so far:

  • Gracie Barra Tournament, Pelham, Alabama: 2nd Place
  • Compnet Tennessee Tournament, Nashville, Alabama: 3rd Place
  • Gracie Barra Tournament, Pelham, Alabama: 3rd Place
  • NAGA Tournament, Foley, Alabama: 3rd Place

With an unwavering spirit, Noah is also slated to compete in several more tournaments this year, including ones in Chattanooga, TN, Destin, FL and Pelham and Birmingham, AL.

With all of that said, life isn’t all training and tournaments for the Kirkland family. Helena has quickly nestled itself into the family’s heart. Located comfortably between the simplicity of small-town life and the hustle of the big city, Helena offers the best of both worlds. Sundays see the family indulge in Noah’s favorite food, queso, at the local Mexican restaurant after a morning of church. The local parks, especially Joe Tucker Park, are also family favorites. It was there that Noah caught his very first fish. The Kirkland family truly cherishes the sense of community and close-knit bonds they share with local businesses and families in Helena.