by LINDA FRABL | photos by PortrArt Creations

Phenomenal Fencer

Considering that 16-year-old Brian Ko has only been living in the United States for five years since moving to Carmel Valley with his family from his native South Korea, he has achieved phenomenal success with both his academics and with his pastime activities of playing the clarinet and, most notably, fencing. Having placed 16th in the nation for fencing in his age group, Brian qualified to play on the American team at the European Cadet Circuit tournament. He will be traveling to Austria before the end of the year to compete.

Commenting on his upcoming European tournament, Brian emphasized the team aspect rather than his own personal gains. He stated, “I am looking forwarding to bonding with the other fencers. We only get to see each other at national tournaments, and this will be a great experience for us as we get to represent the U.S.A. together.”


Name: Brian Ko (16)
School: Canyon Crest Academy
Grade: Junior
Parents: Christine Song and Justin Ko
Sibling: Claire Ko (11)


Brian began fencing at a young age after seeing the sport on TV. He recalled, “I was pretty intrigued with the idea of sword fighting and I wanted to give it a shot. It was fun and I got an adrenaline rush from it!” After winning the silver medal in the 2018 North American Cup for Division III, this year Brian placed within the top 20 for Cadet Men’s Foil in the Junior Olympics, the Summer Nationals, and the North American Cup.

A junior at Canyon Crest Academy, Brian aced his studies the previous school year by receiving 5s on all of his AP exams which include AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP World History, and AP Computer Science Principles. In addition to school and fencing, Brian volunteers at the UCSD Shubayev Research Laboratory by helping with pain research, and he plays the clarinet with the San Diego Youth Symphony.

Wanting to become an anesthesiologist like his father, Brian hopes to be accepted into the eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) at Brown University. In the meantime, though, he will continue pursuing fencing. Brian proclaimed, “What I most enjoy about fencing is traveling and meeting other fencers from around the country. Every time I show up at a tournament, I get to see all my friends who cheer me on. The feeling of camaraderie makes this sport truly a wonderful one.”