by LYDIA COBB | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Glittery Girl with a Black Belt

A majority of actors have stunt doubles to perform aerial cartwheels or back flips in action scenes. Ashley Cynkin, who’s in sixth grade at Sage Canyon Elementary, dreams of the future and elaborated, “I’ll always be a black belt and practice martial arts. I’d love to be an actress in action movies doing my own stunts.”

Hollywood, here she comes. Ashley’s older brother and inspiration, David, began Taekwondo before her. Since she was at the studio often, she naturally joined just before turning three. “It wasn’t always an easy road for me and I almost quit on several occasions when I was younger,” she revealed. “We’re very lucky to have the top coaches in the country here in Carmel Valley. My coaches, Mrs. Trish Church, Sr. Master Church, Ciel Solwazi, and Chris Hollingsworth have helped me to build both the skills and confidence needed to be a top competitor.”


You might be surprised she’s a second-degree black belt. Ashley loves fashion and glitz and suggested, “Some people don’t think someone so girly and glittery can be tough and competitive.” Ashley is ranked in the World Top Ten standings in three events. She won the World Championship in Traditional Weapons in 2011. And that’s just the icing. She holds seven State Championship and two District titles.

Last year, her coaches put together a demo team that competed at Nationals, which is held each fall at the ESPN Sports Center at Disneyworld. The four-person team, which included Ashley and her brother, David, won. This qualified them to compete on the global stage. Taekwondo is an individual sport, so team competition brings a new synergy to the art. “I enjoy hearing how loud the crowd is when we compete as a team together,” added Ashley.

As she completes her last year at Sage Canyon Elementary – she likes science and art – with a nod to fashion design as a possible career. Ashley also sings, acts, and takes tumbling at Flip Force in Mira Mesa. She reflected, “It’s hard to find the time to balance everything, but it’s been a great lesson for me to discover what I’m capable of.” She loves the beaches, being outdoors, and her native Carmel Valley. Her awards and accolades continue, but more importantly, she possesses stamina and creativity as she shapes a fantastic future.




Name: Ashley Cambria Cynkin (11)
School: Sage Canyon Elementary
Grade: 6
Parents: Dave and Shannon Cynkin
Siblings: David Cynkin (14), Dog named Shelby (8 months)
Favorite Local Spots: Church’s Martial Arts, my house, Josey’s house, Soup Plantation, Spices Thai, Del Mar Beach, Helen Woodward Animal Center (where we adopted Shelby)