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Dublin High School Sophomore Michael Chiu Competes for USA in Taekwondo Poomsae

December 18, 2018

For many that are unfamiliar with the topic, the martial arts can be a bit of a mystery. On the one hand, some may think of it as an aggressive form of combat – not unlike what we’ve experienced in motion pictures over the years. On the other hand, the Japanese form of judo features various “pins” meant to subdue an opponent. This takes us to the Korean martial art of Taekwondo – specifically Poomsae. In this form, it is a combination of basic actions and movements exercised with an imaginary opponent. In this very specific sport, one can become accurate in both offensive and defensive techniques. To make matters more complicated, various techniques must be mastered prior to advancing to higher levels – including controlled breathing.

Poomsae_6 had the opportunity to sit down with Dublin High School sophomore, Michael Chiu. He explained that competing that competing in Poomsae can be accomplished individually, in teams and in pairs. Though he was interested in various sports, he quickly gravitated to Taekwondo. He initially trained locally. However, his pursuit of enhanced training led him to further his studies in the south bay. 2018 was a banner year for Mr. Chiu. He competed at the USA Taekwondo National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah. In capturing both gold and silver medals, his performance earned the opportunity to compete at the World Poomsae Championships in Taipei, Taiwan in November 2018. Michael recently shared his experiences with us. For those that may be unfamiliar with Taekwondo and its different forms, what would you describe as the most challenging part? Is the sport more physically or mentally demanding?


Michael Chiu: “Taekwondo is a very diverse sport and has many different aspects. I believe the most challenging part to Taekwondo is being able to condition your body to perform both aspects of the sport. The two parts to Taekwondo are Poomsae and sparring. Poomsae is when an athlete performs a series of movements expressing self-defense. Sparring is when two athletes fight with gear and score points by performing clean techniques on the other athlete. The two are very different which makes condition for both very challenging. I believe Taekwondo is more physically demanding, because when competing athletes have to move and use their entire body, multiple times, in order to perform techniques.” After you succeeded at the National Championship, how did it make you feel to understand that you would now be competing internationally in Taiwan? What were the differences that you noticed between the USA and World championships?

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Chiu: “After winning Nationals, I was very excited, but at the same time scared when given the chance to compete internationally in Taiwan. I knew that there was a lot of improvement needed in the few months before Worlds. However, I was very excited because this was going to be my first time ever going to an international competition. While I competed there, the atmosphere completely changes. When you walk into the arena it is very loud, there are countries surrounding the arena cheering their hearts out just for their athletes. The schedule posted us to compete on the First Day, so when we went to the practice area, it was very intense. People all around me from different countries were struggling to find space in order to practice. The mats get very crowded and people are doing techniques left and right, making the practice mats a very serious area.” During our visit, we talked a bit about your future/career after Dublin High School and you had mentioned Sports Psychology. Please explain how teacher Kim Connors has inspired you to contemplate this possibility.

Chiu: “In my future career I want to be a Sport Psychologist or Trainer. I also want to be a coach and influence others through Taekwondo and guide them to reach World Class level like me. Dublin High’s Sports Medicine class has really helped influence this future career for me. My teacher Ms. Connors teaches us about many things about the profession and what goes beyond the profession. She talks to us about current events that show us how the profession works and which helps leads us towards the Sports Medicine career.” This highly unique sport has required a tremendous amount of commitment and time for both you and your supporters. As you reflect upon the success that you’re achieved this far, what would you like to express to your family that reflects your gratitude?

Chiu: “Being able to represent the US wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family and friends. I would like to thank my mom and my dad for both financially and emotionally aiding me throughout my journey. To my twin sister, Isabelle Chiu, who comes with me to my competitions, despite of her own busy dance competition schedule. To Grandmaster Yoon from Sky Martial Arts where my martial arts journey started and shaped me to who I am today; and finally, Mteam-CPP for helping me progress even farther through my journey, plus all the teammates that all motivate me to go stronger and support me. I would also like to thank all my teammates (Jake DeGuzman, Julian Chang, Anna Kaenjak, Izzy Demaria, and Sydney Moon) who competed with me at Nationals and Worlds for traveling through the hardest part of my competition journey with me.”

In researching this topic, we found an interesting element: This includes keeping one’s eyes level. This ensures that there is more balance when performing. While we are certain that Mr. Chiu will maintain his balance, it is very probable that his elevation in Poomsae will continue to elevate. would like to thank Michael and his mother, Ratna for sharing his story.


  1. j9tigger permalink
    December 18, 2018 7:34 am

    I am so excited to see how far Mr. Chiu has already come in his journey! Grandmaster Yoon has shaped so many in the Dublin community!

    • Michael Utsumi permalink
      December 19, 2018 12:37 am

      Thank you for your feedback, Janine. It was clear to us that the positive influence has been widespread!

  2. Patty Shipps permalink
    December 18, 2018 8:49 am

    Congratulations Michael Chiu. A great sport, and a great accomplishment.

    • Michael Utsumi permalink
      December 19, 2018 12:38 am

      Thank you for your feedback, Patty. What he has accomplished is definitely special!

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