9-year-old Laguna Niguel girl earns silver in first year at national taekwondo championship
LAGUNA NIGUEL — Maya Davis is a lot like most 9-year-old girls—she enjoys listening to Taylor Swift, playing Pokémon and going to the beach.
However, most 9-year-old girls aren’t national reigning USAT taekwondo silver medalists in sparring.
Maya competed in her first USAT National Championships July 2-9 in Salt Lake City and made quite the impression. She competed in the 8- and 9-year-old heavyweight category and won her first two matches before being bested by three-time national champion Amaya Matus of Desert Hot Springs.
“It was my first nationals so I think I did great,” Maya said. This will potentially be the first nationals of many, as Maya sees a long run for herself in taekwondo.
Maya, a fourth-grader at Moulton Elementary, admits it was a little scary at first because the girls were so much bigger than her. But she persevered by sticking to basics and using her strength, speed and agility to her advantage.
Her favorite color is black — fittingly — because she is only two belts away from becoming a black belt and hopes to one day become an instructor and a grand master.
Maya’s home studio is National TKD on La Paz Road in Laguna Niguel, owned by Master Jimmy Graesser.
“Maya is a bold and bright student; we are so proud to see her apply the self-discipline and techniques learned here in such an intimidating new arena. We look forward to great things from her,” Graesser said.
Dawn Davis, Maya’s mother, said Maya’s martial arts journey has done wonders for Maya’s health, intellect and confidence.
“Maya’s confidence, behavior and ability to focus have improved thanks to the doctrines of self-discipline, respect and honor learned in taekwondo,” Davis said.
Maya receives a lot of support at home, and practice. Having four older brothers means she gets plenty of extra training. She credits her strong mentality to her 12-year-old brother, Trey.
“He’s pretty much the reason why I’m so tough, because he didn’t know how gentle babies were.”
She finds taekwondo to be fun and has plenty of friends who do it as well, but her competitive nature has contributed to her success.
“I did soccer, but I don’t think it’s really fair that you only get a participation trophy,” she said, displaying her silver medal around her neck.
Taekwondo keeps her busy, as she practices about six days a week. Maya likes being able to progress in taekwondo and level up in belts because it gives her the ability to defend herself and her family.
“Ever since I was a white belt I’ve had a lot of potential — that’s what Master Graesser says — because I was the loudest yeller in the white belt class.”
Maya believes in herself and hopes that her success can motivate other girls to believe they can compete, grow and excel not just in sports but in life. Maya’ signature hairstyle — short on one side, a shock of red sweeping the other — is self-designed and meant to empower other girls so they know that they are strong and should always “believe in themselves.”
“Boys always say that they’re stronger than girls, but I beat up my brothers a lot. I think that just because they say they’re stronger doesn’t mean that they are.”