Chris Meyer is on his way to becoming a taekwondo master, despite 18p- Syndrome.
METROWEST Estimates show one of every 40,000 births results in a deletion of part of the short arm (p arm) of chromosome 18, a condition called 18p- Syndrome.
That would equal about 8,000 with this syndrome in the U.S., living with potential varied conditions such as heart anomalies, hypotonia, neurological defects, vision and hearing issues, gastrointestinal problems, foot impairments and cognitive disruptions.
Like many of those 8,000, Chris Meyer has taken growth hormone as part of his treatment.
But how many of the 8,000 have fourth-degree black belts?
“At age 10, Chris began studying taekwondo at the Dr. Phillips YMCA under the direction of Master Charles Knight,” Chris’s mother, Linda, said. “After Master Knight retired, Master Nickie Wisdom and Master Annika Thomas became his instructors.”
Chris, 25, earned a black belt in 2006 and a fourth-degree black belt this March. He became an associate teen instructor in 2006 and a head instructor last year at the YMCA, with becoming a master instructor in mind. He is on track for his fifth-degree black belt by age 30, Linda said.
“It was a good way to get exercise for me; I was excited,” Chris said of his start in taekwondo. “You learn how to defend yourself — that’s the main purpose of taekwondo — and then you get good exercise from it.”
He has won first-place medals in many tournaments, such as the U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association’s National Tournament June 19 and 20 at the Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort. There, he achieved first place in bo staff, kamas, open hand and nunchucks, and he officiated forms, sparring and extreme weapons events.
“One of the highlights for Chris was to break four slabs of concrete with his hand on stage while performing at the Night of Champions event with his school’s demo team,” Linda said.
His favorite move is a hook kick, like a roundhouse kick, and nunchucks are his favorite weapon, he said.
Linda said Chris especially enjoys extreme weapons but that she would not be able to handle it.
“Anyone can do it with practice,” Chris said in response. “In the tournaments, we have people as young as 3 start, all the way to 80 years old.”
With the motivation of always having the next level to attain and being just a step away from master, Chris plans to stick with his favorite sport as long as he can. Amid 12 years of growth hormone injections to offset hypotonia, practicing taekwondo has helped Chris to overcome it, Linda said.
“Chris believes that he lives up to one of the mottos said by the late Senior Grandmaster Edward B. Sell,” Linda said. “‘A black belt is a champion of his own weaknesses.’”
Chris graduated from Olympia High School in 2009, Westside Tech in 2010 with a specialization in multimedia design and Valencia College in 2014 with a technical certificate in office support. He has worked at Walt Disney World and is pursuing a career with Publix Supermarkets.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].