Tahoe has its own karate kid | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe has its own karate kid

Steve Yingling

He’s more than a karate kid.

With a smile that wows a crowd and a engaging personality, 7-year-old Giovanni Gutierrez is on his way to becoming someone special in the sport of Taekwondo.

Exposed to the sport for only 18 months, the South Lake Tahoe boy has quickly ascended to one of the country’s best in his age group.

Already a first-degree black belt on the nine-belt ladder, Gutierrez won the forms competition and was runner-up in sparring at the 1998 Songahm Taekwondo World Championships June 9-12 in Little Rock, Ark.

“With him, I find a lot of it is the proper attitude and good concentration and he participates in classes to the best of his ability,” said Del Peuse, Gutierrez’s instructor at Taekwondo USA in South Lake Tahoe.

Besides, Gutierrez has obvious natural talent.

“He has very good physical abilities and he has kind of honed them into the martial arts,” said Peuse, a 16-year instructor. “Most children when they start my program it takes them over a number of years to get to (Gutierrez’s) point, but with certain individuals some physical ability and determinaton will make good things happen.

“His accomplishments are very well deserved and it’s reflected by how he competed in the world championships.”

To become the best in the world for his age, Gutierrez must accumalate enough points in competitions throughout the United States to qualify for next year’s world championships in Little Rock. Only the top 10 make it.

So far, with 16 points out of a possible 20, Gutierrez is well on his way.

“Very few people have that dedication to compete and travel for the world championships,” Peuse said.

With some financial assistance from local businesses Jim’s Plumbing, Tahoe Keys Marina Center, Sheet Metal Shop and Plaza Tapatia Market, Gutierrez’s dad, Duke, has devoted the time and money so his son can pursue one of his dreams.

“I’m paying for it because he’s my son, he’s good at it and he enjoys it. He’s a natural at it. If he wasn’t such a natural, I don’t think I’d be going to all the expense of traveling around the world,” he said.

The sport’s structure and notoriety have hooked Gutierrez.

“You learn a lot of things. You learn techniques, self-defense, discipline and it teaches me self-control,” Gutierrez said.

And the remote possibility of someday becoming a movie star like martial artist Jackie Chan sounds like a cool way to spend adulthood.

“I watch most of his movies. I like how he uses all of his hand movements and when he takes a ladder or something and uses it as a weapon,” Gutierrez said.

Anyone interested in joining Taekwondo USA should call Peuse at 542-4373. There are classes for a variety of age groups, including the Tiny Tigers (4-6), 7-12 and 13 and above. The classes operate by open enrollment, so you can join at any time and learn at your own pace.

Also, businesses or people willing to help Gutierrez reach his world championship dream, can sponsor the 7-year-old by calling (530) 541-2960.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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