On the weekend of Aug. 25 – 26, I had the honor of hosting Ms. Julia Cross, six-time ITF World Champion from Scotland, to give a Taekwon-Do seminar in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada. The event hit a milestone in the rich history of traditional Taekwon-Do in Canada, where many elite athletes have become world renowned and many events, either competitive or instructional, have become landmarks since the formation of the ITF. The compelling factor here is a woman giving the instruction on an international level. Canada has had endless seminars helmed by the Taekwon-Do founder, General Choi Hong Hi, and subsequently by the ITF technical committee. This instance is one of the only times in Canada where a female was giving the instruction. The experience was also new for Ms. Cross, who has conducted many trainings in different European regions but this was her first overseas venture. Held at the Black Belt Excellence Martial Arts Academy and co-hosted by Master Phil Nguyen, nine clubs were in attendance spanning over three countries – Canada, USA, and Argentina. Among the participants were four world champions, one Canadian national coach, and many national, international, and world medallists.
This seminar was the result of a facebook post in which Ms. Cross indicated she was looking to take vacation somewhere and asked for suggestions. Within a day, she received two dozen replies from fellow Taekwon-Do practitioners asking her to come to their respective countries. Among those replies was my request for her to come to Canada and give a seminar. The day after I posted this comment on her wall, she sent me a message asking me when I wanted her to come. At that time, having not met her face-to-face, I thought she was joking. When I came to the realization she was serious, we began to plan the date, the venue, and marketing of the event. By the time we had all the logistical information confirmed, I had barely spoken to anyone about her coming to Canada when I posted up the facebook event page. Within several hours, I received multiple texts and phone calls and already had about twenty people confirming their attendance.
Ms. Cross’ seminar covered reaction exercises, core conditioning, improving speed and power for fundamental techniques, sparring drills, and free-sparring. As Ms. Cross conducted her course, she livened up the room, speaking with passion and vigour. Also throwing in much sarcastic wit, the room would often explode into laughter.
During a portion of the seminar, there was a question period where the participants could gain a little more insight into Ms. Cross’ background in Taekwon-Do. It was during this time, she explained she had participated in over 500 tournaments in her career and had multiple knee surgeries and hip replacement done as a result of injuries sustained in training or in the ring. However, no one would have suspected she incurred any of these misfortunes because she was still demonstrating the drills and exercises with the strength and precision of a world-class athlete. Ms. Cross also touched on how she mentally prepares for a match before entering the ring and during the fight.
At the end of the session, everyone was sweating and sore. Ms. Cross worked everyone hard and made sure every participant was giving 100% effort. New friendships were formed and many old friends were reunited in this momentous event.
Years from now, Ms. Cross will have many different perspectives in the history of Taekwon-Do. Many will remember her as an instructor, a coach, and an inspiration to martial arts practitioners. Others will remember her as an athletic icon, fighting fierce battles in the ring that resulted in permanent injuries which forced her into retirement from competition. Those who have gotten to know her through interaction will remember her for having a charming sarcastic wit to her personality. For me, above all else, I will remember her for the opportunity she provided me to give back to the Taekwon-Do community. Thank you Ms. Cross! I hope you will continue to spread your Taekwon-Do knowledge throughout the world.
Report by David Lim