YARMOUTH - Sophie Geis hoists a heavy tub full of medals onto the table. There must be over 100 that she’s earned on her way to her third-degree black belt in taekwondo. Geis says it took time and a lot of patience to get there.
“I worked my way up,” she says.
“Every belt rank, you learn new patterns. It’s kind of fascinating.”
She started as a "tiny tiger" at Black Belt World in Toronto with master Tommy Chang when she was four years old. After her family moved to Yarmouth she resumed training with Randy Muise Taekwon-Do.
She was 11 when she received her first black belt. It was only the second time in 18 years that her instructor, Randy Muise, graded an 11-year old as a black belt. In 2015 she received her second-degree black belt and in November 2017 she was awarded her third-degree black belt, the youngest in the club to receive one. This year she was the black belt grand champion at the Muise Taekwondo Invitational Tournament.
Geis says there were many other activities she tried in younger years.
“I was in swimming, dancing, soccer, horseback riding, but this is the thing that I’ve been consistent with.
“It just comes natural. My body wants to do it. Mom could tell that I loved it from a young age.”
She adds that she loves the teaching and educational aspect of the sport as well.
“You’re learning, you never stop learning.”
Although she hasn’t been to taekwondo class a lot recently because of a busy school schedule, she looks forward to getting back into her routine and teaching again.
“I don’t want to say my world revolves around taekwondo, it doesn’t … I’m more into books and school and friends. But it’s definitely one of my favourite sports, hobbies, extracurriculars. Between the fighting and the running and just the workout. It’s a commitment. It keeps you fit and it’s a family environment for sure with a lot of support.
Geis is a strong supporter of girls learning self-defence.
“It doesn’t have to be as much as I do. There are free women’s defense sessions around here from time to time. It’s a good thing to know. I just wish more people knew what a benefit it is.
She adds that it’s not just girls that should learn self-defense.
“Guys need it too. There are predators for any sex, any age, any size. There are total freaks in this world that you have to watch out for.”
Instructor Randy Muise says Geis is an excellent example of what training in the martial arts can do for a person.
“Internal strength, confidence, compassion, highly motivated and a positive member of society, are the personality traits of the true martial artist, traits that Ms. Geis excels in.
“Through her years of dedication to training she has become a role model and inspiration to the younger generation and a remarkable example to everyone she meets of what hard work, focus and dedication can achieve.”
Muise adds that through Geis’s taekwondo training she’s learned the ability to defend herself both physically and mentally against the bullies of the world.
“She’s also learned that she can accomplish her goals both inside and outside the training studio. She’s gained the strength and confidence to overcome life’s many adversities and rise above doubt, fear and failure.
“Training in the martial arts is not about fighting, it’s about self-respect, compassion, integrity, perseverance, self-control and having an indomitable spirit. Ms. Geis is an example of all these attributes.”
More about Black Belts
In taekwondo, 10th dan (grandmaster) is the highest degree of black belt. The unusual part is you can only earn up to 9th dan. The 10th dan is rewarded for respect for an individual when they dedicate their lives to taekwondo. There are nine dans in black belt, according to the International Taekwondo Federation.