The first armless Taekwondo black belt
While many martial arts may be generations old taekwondo is a fairly modern discipline. In the 1940s and 50’s masters of other disciplines in South Korea came together and created taekwondo. While it may have originated in South Korea many of the highest level (9th dan*) black belts are from the United States. All of these warriors understand the 5 tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, self-control, perseverance, integrity and indomitable spirit but none represent the type of indomitable spirit that burns within Jessica Cox. She became the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association.
Jessica is an active competitor, joining in sparring as well as performing a specialized feet only hyung (pattern). In the video, we can see her going through her routine and when competing you can see how different her movements are from the other competitors.
Nick Newell is probably the most famous handicapped MMA fighter but Jessica’s accomplishments are even more amazing as she only has her feet to compete with. She is also a pilot, surfer and a rock climber but now she is focused on making inspirational youtube videos as well as being a mother.
Jessica will likely have good defensive footwork and head movement, as a favorite training technique of boxing coaches involves tying your arms up for a round or two of sparring. The idea is simple, when you can’t use your arms to defend yourself you learn to move your head or body out of the way.
It would have been interesting to see her compete against an early version of Ronda Rousey, how would the most famous female fighter have won without her favorite armbar submission.
*There are two 10th dan black belts but really the highest active level is 9th dan.
The author, Nicholas Westerby, has trained boxing and kickboxing since 1995. You can watch his UFC retrospectives, predictions and fight card reactions on his Youtube channel.