This is the first in a series of conversations with people who are prominent in the world of poomsae to help promote the positive development of poomsae in the U.S. A big thank you goes to Akiko Reyes for taking the time to answer our questions!
Profile (extract from Team USA/USA Taekwondo website)
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Coaches: Brian McCutcheon & Scott Fujii
Dojang: Oahu Taekwondo Center
College: Keller Graduate School of Management ’09
Teaches and trains together with her husband, Manuel Reyes at Oahu Taekwondo Center. Her daughter, Monica, is her lucky charm. She has been watching her parents train (or sleeping while they train) early in the morning and late at night since she was a little baby and has gone to pretty much all the tournaments with them.
MAJOR POOMSAE COMPETITION RESULTS (past 5 years):
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Member (1st Masters)
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials (1st Masters): 1st
2010 World Poomsae Championships (2nd Senior Female): SILVER
2010 U.S. National Poomsae A Team Member (2nd Seniors)
2010 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Seniors): 1st
2010 U.S. Open (Poomsae): GOLD
2009 World Poomsae Championships (2nd Senior Female): SILVER
2009 U.S. Poomsae Team Member – Individual Female 2nd Senior
2009 U.S. Poomsae Team Trial (Female 2nd Senior): 1st
2009 National Qualifier (Female 2nd Senior): GOLD
2008 Korea Open Poomsae Championship Match (Female 2nd Senior): GOLD
2008 Korea Open Poomsae Domestic Division (Female 2nd Senior): GOLD
2008 U.S. Poomsae Team Trial (Female 2nd Senior): SILVER
2007World Poomsae Bronze Medalist – Female 2nd Team
2007 World Poomsae Championship – Female 2nd Senior: 9th
2007 U.S. Poomsae Team Trial (Female 2nd Team): GOLD
2007 U.S. Poomsae Team Trial (Female 2nd Senior Individual): GOLD
FPM: How long have you been training in taekwondo?
AR: Approximately twenty-five years.
FPM: What made you choose to compete in poomsae?
AR: I was always a sparring competitor, but one of my loyal students asked me to compete in poomsae in 2007 (last poomsae competition prior to that was in 1991). She asked me to compete “just once” so that she can see how I do my poomsae. The next poomsae competition I can attend happened to be the Open Poomsae Team Trial. I ended up making the team, and the rest is history.
FPM: What is the biggest change you have seen in poomsae competition since you first started competing and how has it impacted the sport?
AR: The biggest change I have seen in poomsae is the increased number of competitors and the higher level of competition in the U.S. You can no longer win just knowing the guidelines or just having a good sidekick.
FPM: What is your training schedule like?
AR: I have very little time to train for myself. I have a full-time job during the day and teach at night and be a mother to my daughter and a wife for my husband. I train throughout the day anywhere I can (90% of my training is done outside of the studio). I usually do one move or section of the poomsae many times throughout the day. I put everything together just about one month away from my competition. I also visualize often since I don’t get to practice the entire poomsae as much as I like.
FPM: How did it feel to win your first silver medal at the World Poomsae Championships?
AR: I asked my husband to go to the World with me even though we were struggling financially. I explained to him that it was very important because I was going to win at the World and needed him to be there to watch me win. Although I was not able to win gold, I was very happy to be on the podium seeing my husband’s smile.
FPM: What do you focus on while you are competing?
AR: I make every effort to make everyone watch me perform.
FPM: Which is your favorite poomsae to perform?
AR: I don’t really have a favorite poomsae.
FPM: Which is your most challenging poomsae to perform?
AR: Every poomsae brings me a different challenge.
FPM: What advice would you give to athletes who are interested in competing in poomsae at a national level?
AR: “Believing” can take you further than you can possibly imagine.
FPM: What excites you about the future of poomsae?
AR: I believe the U.S. poomsae will continue to grow and progress and be really competitive at the World.