James Reed had to wait a few months to be presented with his latest martial arts distinction.
It turned out the Dec. 14 grand opening of his new studio at 2243 N. MacArthur Drive was the right time to celebrate becoming U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame Tae Kwon Do Master of the Year for 2013.
It’s his third hall of fame award, announced at a May 4 banquet in Los Angeles. At the time, Reed was finishing an eight-week training cycle with a group of his students testing for their black belts and couldn’t attend.
He eventually received the award last month, when his first instructor, Master Herbert McGee of Hayward, presented the plaque and certificate as one of the highlights of the studio opening.
“It’s a huge honor,” Reed said. “It tells me that my hard work has come through.”
Reed, 32, has taught tae kwon do in Tracy since July 2003. He didn’t know who nominated him for his most recent award but said that recognition by the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame represents the respect of martial arts masters around the U.S.
“There’s somebody out there who likes me,” Reed said. “When I was competing awhile ago, before I opened the school, a lot of instructors enjoyed watching me perform. I was always respectful to the masters and the judges. They watched me from the time I was a kid until I was competing in the adult division.”
Reed was 4½ years old when his parents convinced McGee, an instructor at Sam Montgomery’s West Coast Tae Kwon Do of Hayward, that their son was athletic and disciplined enough to learn martial arts.
“We normally don’t take students as young as 4½ years of age,” McGee said. “For a 4½-year-old kid, he seemed to be very mature, and I suggested we sign him up and let him try it.”
During the next two decades, McGee trained Reed to become a world champion in weapons and forms and then saw him open a martial arts school in his early 20s
“People could see he was a very skilled and knowledgeable individual,” McGee said. “Any time you have a student that you see grow up from 4½ years old to be a 30-year-old successful man, you have to be pleased.”
Highlights of Reed’s career include international championships in forms and weapons. He was recognized by the International Martial Arts Council Hall of Fame in 2006, the same year that Grand Master Stan Witz of Las Vegas, founder of the IMAC, presented Reed with his sixth-degree black belt.
“He’s an amazing martial artist and a great role model for kids, which is a big plus,” Witz said.
Witz nominated Reed for the IMAC Hall of Fame in 2006 after seeing the Tracy man in a weapons competition where he displayed new and original weapons techniques. “Now everybody is trying to copy him,” he said.
“What’s cool about James, when he was active in competition, he would go for broke,” Witz said. “When he’d nail it, he’d get the get the crowd back on their tiptoes. He exemplifies what martial arts is all about.”
The next year, Reed was recognized for his competitive achievements by the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame, the same organization that recognized him most recently for his work as an instructor.
In addition to tae kwon do, Reed studies and teaches jiujitsu and kickboxing and was briefly involved in mixed martial arts fighting.
Reed called teaching his passion. He displays plaques with the names of the 97 students who have earned black belts under his guidance.
His focus now is to make his 3,700-square-foot MacArthur Drive studio — a bit larger and a more visible than his former Larch Road location — a better environment for his 180 or so students.
“I always like helping people, teaching, showing them something that they think that they couldn’t do before, especially with the younger kids,” he said. “If they have a little bit of trouble on certain techniques — (saying) ‘I’m never going to get this’ — I love to show them, ‘Yes, you can.’”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.