Rod “Rock” Hickman was a great guy: tough, skilled, fun-loving, charismatic, sensitive, but most of all, grateful. Beginning his Kiado-Ryu experience in 1980, he moved to the east coast in the mid-1980s. Yet, he never forgot the KIA and the special relationship he shared with Mr. King. Rock, although geographically distant, was always a phone call away. He religiously stayed in contact with his instructor and was ever grateful for his Kiado-Ryu training. The relationship was mutual and Mr. King was even more appreciative for Rock and what he brought to life and the KIA.
One of the most memorable KIA stories was the afternoon after Rock’s green belt test, an extremely long, difficult and trying exam, especially for that level. Mr. King was sitting at his desk and suddenly Rod showed up at his office, standing in the doorway and filling it with his powerful physique. Rock was visibly upset, teetering on the verge of rage. Burning a hole into Mr. King’s eyes he growled, “Mr. King, I’m here to tell you I hate your living guts!” A silent, still caution filled the air. It was a tense moment, openly hostile and threatening. But then, without missing a beat, Rod emphatically said, “And I’m here to thank you for it!” That was Rod “Rock” Hickman: powerful and candid, but honest and appreciative to his last mortal breath.
Rod Hickman passed away in the Summer of 2006. He will forever be one of the true gentlemen and heroes of the Karate Institute of America. We pray that God has mercy on his soul and gives him the love and support he gave to others.