Tae Kwon Do is more than a sport, it is a way of life for La Mesa instructor

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Alliance Tae Kwon Do Center and RiPE is a family based business in La Mesa, moving from Spring Valley after the need of more space. Along with their mother, Jessica Mari Ayres and her brother Justin Ayres tag team with Jessica Ayres teaching Olympic style sparring, traditional poomsae and sport poomsae while her brother focuses on personal training for anyone who wants to improve their health, whether or not they are learning Tae Kwon Do.

Alliance Tae Kwon Do Center and RiPE is a family based business in La Mesa, moving from Spring Valley after the need of more space. Along with their mother, Jessica Mari Ayres and her brother Justin Ayres tag team with Jessica Ayres teaching Olympic style sparring, traditional poomsae and sport poomsae while her brother focuses on personal training for anyone who wants to improve their health, whether or not they are learning Tae Kwon Do.

Competing since 1997, it has been a great year for Jessica Ayres with competitions. In competitions she earned U.S. Open-gold medals team and individual, California State Championship, National Championships, two gold medals team and individual, and placed second place alternate in Team Trials for 10th World Championships in Lima, Peru.

She began competing in sparring, two people head to head in 2006, which went to the level of World Championship that gives competitors the ability to compete with other nations. This year, at 30-years-old, puts her into the 31-40-age bracket.

“It is a high level of competition and skill. I have two years until the next World Championships and believe I have a strong chance of making after this year’s competitions,” she said.

Beginning Tae Kwon Do at 11, Jessica Ayres is a black belt and believes that the art of the martial art has helped her in many ways in life.

“It is really to bring the best out in yourself,” she said. “To condition yourself to have a fit body and fit mind and a calm happy spirit. Even though it seems very intense and intimidating on the outside, on the inside, it’s all about your health.”

She said for some it could be a stress release and others it is to bring the mind in and focus on one thing at a time. Another is to develop a discipline or routine. Tae Kwan Do is the most practiced martial art in the world. It really is for the sport and the personal self. It is very team building.

“In teams our goal is for each of us to be the best,” she said. “It has helped me come out of my shell. I am a very shy person. I love to read, so give me a book and a corner and I am happy. I tried many sports to see if I would like it, and I really didn’t. Tae Kwan Do made me more of an athlete, pushed me out of my comfort zone, the ability to talk to people and not just be a bookworm, although being a bookworm is awesome.”

In the beginning, it took five years before she could test for her black belt and her brother and sister followed soon after that.

“It became really hard to let go of,” she said. “We wanted to do more, so we had to go further out, beyond the state championships and nationals. We began to compete in US Opens where other athletes from other countries compete. Then in 2000, Tae Kwan Do came to the Olympics. We opened our own gym in 2001with my mom, sister, brother and a good friend who also does Tae Kwan Do and we just kept growing.”

She said this influenced her brother to go beyond Tae Kwan Do and to start training everyone. His reason is that it can be hard for an adult to do martial arts. But he has programs that can get a person in shape, give them better movement and proper form. He works with all kinds of people and he trains athletes in physique, bodybuilding and more.

“I just kept going with Tae Kwan Do and Poomsae (like a pattern), the part that you don’t see the Olympics, I compete in,” she said. “Poomsae should be an Olympic sport. It might take two more Olympic cycles to get it there, but it deserves the recognition as a sport. It is very demanding.”

Jessica Ayers has been teaching students for 16 years now. She said many of them do not stick with Tae Kwan Do because it takes a familial commitment to keep bringing them and supporting them. It is a coach, athlete, family triangle and we all have to be on the same page. Usually it is the student’s life, sports in high school, more social activity and college are many reasons students leave. But she said they have had many winning athletes come out of our training here.

“The life lessons that you get from Tae Kwan Do are a physical and mental challenge,” she said. “You develop a focus, a discipline and goal setting. It is very important in life to have a goal in life. Short term, long term, it shows you have a sense of direction and are driven towards something if you are motivated to do so.”

Alliance Tae Kwon Do Center and RiPE is located at 7960 University Avenue, Suite 220 in La Mesa. For more information visit www.martialartsandfitnesslamesaca.com.

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