One of taekwondo’s core values is determination, and there’s no doubt that examples can be seen every day at Oakmont Martial Arts. But the world of martial arts offers many other examples of what can be accomplished with some perseverance.
Students of Songham taekwondo are quite familiar with the name of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee. His saying, “Today not possible. Tomorrow, possible,” speaks to his personal belief in the power of determination.
Born in Manchuria, China in 1936, Eternal Grand Master Lee moved to Korea shortly after WWII. He enlisted in the Korean army, where he was a taekwondo trainer for special troops. In 1962, Eternal Grand Master Lee came to the United States where, with the assistance of friend and student Richard Reed (now Senior Master) and became a US citizen in 1973.
In 1990, Eternal Grand Master Lee became the first to acquire the title of “Grand Master” through a public testing. Upon his death in 2000, ATA had become one of the largest martial arts organizations in the world with over 300,000 members. Eternal Grand Master has been recognized for his many philanthropic and humanitarian achievements by leaders and organizations around the world.
Jessica Cox has a lot of accolades after her name. She earned Black Belts from the ATA and the International Taekwondo Federation, and is a licensed pilot. She was also born without arms.
Despite her physical challenges, Jessica hasn’t allowed any of that to stop her. She learned to do basic tasks, such as eating, brushing her hair, driving a car, and typing with her feet. In 2008, she entered the Guinness Book of World Records when she earned her pilot’s license. She travels the world as a motivational speaker, teaching people to eliminate “I can’t” from their lives.
When Caitlin Dechelle was 6, her grandfather suggested she study martial arts for self-defense. She fell in love with it, and has been training ever since. She has competed on the North American Sport Karate Associate (NASKA) circuit since she was 9, and has become one of the sports most decorated athletes. Dechelle has earned 71 World Titles and has been inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame.
Caitlin was studying biology at the University of Central Florida when she decided to relocate to California to become an actress/stunt woman. After a lot of hard work, she’s living her dream, having acted in multiple commercials, television shows, and movies, where she has performed her own stunts. When Jackie Chan discovered her on ESPN, he recruited her to work in his upcoming movie “Chinese Zodiac.”
Mackensi Emory is young, but her determination has led her to accomplish quite a bit. She participated in her first local karate competition in 2005, winning first place in all her divisions and a Grand Championship. Over the next seven years, she battled through injuries and setbacks to earn 26 World Championships in Extreme, Creative, Traditional, and musical forms, as well as weapons.
A second-degree Black Belt, Mackensi is also an “A” student. And although she loves competing, school comes first. Usually competitors at Mackensi’s level compete in 14 or 15 tournaments a year. Because of her determination to maintain her grades, Mackensi competed in only 11 NASKA tournaments in 2012. When she was told in 2011 that she should stop competing in traditional weapons because she wasn’t winning firsts, Mackensi wouldn’t be stopped. She worked on her sword form diligently, and eventually earned a World title for Traditional Weapons.
Chloe Bruce is a fourth-degree Black Belt from the UK. She is a qualified martial arts instructor and holds the Guinness World Record for the most kicks in one minute. Known for her Scorpion kick and kick combinations, she is an actress on stage, and in commercials and movies, where she also is a fight/show choreographer. In addition to being a star in the world of martial arts, she is a qualified SPA rock climber and a qualified PADI dive master.
Article by Mary Sutton. Mary Sutton is the mother of two Oakmont Martial Arts students (Mary and Michael) a student herself, and a freelance writer.