Fifteen-year-old Madison resident Jake De Guzman is a Y Ninja Gym assistant instructor at the Madison Area YMCA. The Y is pretty lucky to have him—he’s an accomplished, award-winning student of Taekwondo. A USA National Taekwondo Poomsae Team Member, Jake specializes in the discipline of Recognized and Freestyle Poomsae.
Two years ago, Jake needed to add acrobatics to his skill set, so he began taking gymnastics classes at the Y. Recognizing his talent and discipline, the Y’s gymnastics department offered him a position to teach 3-9 years olds Y Ninja Gym, an obstacle course training methodology program that includes strength and conditioning drills, specialty skill development, tumbling and mindfulness/meditation practices.
“I really like seeing how interested and excited the kids are to learn the techniques. The best part is when I see them overcome their fears,” says the Oratory Prep honor student, adding that the gymnastics training at the Y gives him an advantage at competitions.
Jake is a member of the Team-M Community Poomsae Program, a nonprofit team based in San Jose, CA. A remote athlete, Jake practices mostly at home and at the Y and send videos for critique to his coaches Huy Nguyen, Long Nguyen, Anh Nguyen and Eddie Jeong of M-Team. He spends school breaks and long weekends traveling to CA for training and camps and to meet with his coaches. The team competes at a high level across the country and internationally.
In August, Jake was on the roster of Team USA in the inaugural World Taekwondo World Cup Team and Poomsae Championships in Wuxi, China, competing in the U17 Individual and Team Freestyle Divisions.
Jake’s accolades are impressive. He won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan Am Cadet Junior Poomsae Championships in Portland, Oregon and a silver medal at the 2018 World Poomsae Championships in Taipei, Taiwan. A seven-time USAT National Champion, Jake has earned 15 USA Nationals medals since 2010. He is a medalist in various international tournaments such as the US Open, Canada Open, Costa Rica Open, Mexico and Korea for sparring and poomsae. He also received the 2019 President’s Volunteer Service Award.
As busy as he is, Jake is also an advocate and volunteer to FARE/Food Allergy Research and Education, and shares his journey as an athlete with food allergies on his IG @allergyzeal.
“We knew we had something special when we saw Jake’s talent,” says Madison Area YMCA Gymnastics and Y Ninja Gym Director Christina Lopez who offered him a spot on the staff which is comprised of professional trainers and competitors in martial arts and obstacle course races such as Spartan and Tough Mudder.
Check out the Y Ninja Gym classes. Maybe your son or daughter could be lucky enough to have Jake teach them!