by LIZ ONUFER
photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

92129 Karate Kid

Ask 13-year-old Rey Simon about kumite and kata and the answer will not involve the latest anime comic characters. The names Rey knows so well are from the ancient Japanese form of karate. This past year, Rey traveled across the world to train in his discipline, jumping from Ohio and South Carolina to a dojo in Japan and the Pan American Karate Championships in Medellin, Columbia. Rey’s travel and training were well rewarded; in addition to his first and second places in national championships, Rey earned second place in sparring (kumite) and third place in forms (kata) at the Pan American Karate Championships.

While travel is a constant in his life, Rey enjoys being at home in 92129, noting its proximity to school, shopping, and his friends. It was the latter that was the catalyst for his study of karate. “I got involved in this because I saw some of my preschool friends in a karate class so I decided to join,” Rey explained. His father, Mike, noted that Rey was only four years old at the time. Today, Rey continues to pursue the discipline “because it’s good physical and self defense training and I have a lot of friends on the team.”

StudentQuoteSmallRey’s discipline extends into the classroom as well at Mesa Verde Middle School, where he enjoys academics and appreciates the friendly teachers. He often surprises people with his enrollment in geometry as an 8th grader, and he loves astronomy. “It’s mind-blowing how the universe works. Sometimes I can’t even wrap my head around some things that we are learning,” exclaimed Rey. Learning will be a lifelong pursuit for Rey – his career goal is to be a doctor.

But it’s not all discipline and academics for this young man. During his competition in Colombia, Rey had the opportunity to climb a volcano in El Salvador. He also likes to play soccer and run. At home, Rey has a fully blended family – he has two step brothers, two half sisters, and one step sister.

With a head full of knowledge, a heart full of discipline, and a house full of supporters, Rey Simon will find he has many places to go.

At-A-Glance

Name: Rey Miguel Simon (13)
School: Mesa Verde Middle School
Grade: 8
Parents: Mike Simon, Jovy Simon, Editha Simon (Stepmom)
Siblings: Jescika Sabas (20), Kayla Rivera (20), Mason Rivera (16),
John Michael Rivera (9), Elena Simon (1)

Local Spot: Hilltop Park