Acquaintances | Memorable Experiences
- 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist – Taekwondo for Women’s Lightweight Division
(TKD is a full-contact fighting sport introduced in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
- 2x Hall Of Fame (Black Belt Magazine and US TKD Grandmasters Society)
- 1988 – United States Team Finals – Gold
- 1988 – United States Team Trials – Gold
- 1988 – United States National Championships – Silver
- 1987 – World Championships, Barcelona, Spain – 5th Place
- 1987 – United States Team Trials – Gold
- 1987 – United States National Championships – Silver
- 1986 – World University Games, Berkeley, California – Bronze
- 1986 – United States Team Trials – Gold
- 1986 – United States National Championships – Silver
Gold Medal – 21 national divisional tournaments from 1985 through 1987 with only five losses total during that period. (one Bronze, and four Silver)
Note: Taekwondo is a full-contact fighting sport introduced in the 1988 Olympics as aDemonstration Sport. It is similar to boxing, in that it is full contact, and the best way to win is by knockout. The difference being, that this sport is a ‘kicking’ sport, with kicks allowed only to body or head. No grappling, hand strikes, or sweeps are allowed. It is more a game of skill, or ‘chess,’ in which each athlete tries to score a point on their opponent, without being scored upon. It is a sport that has weight divisions (fin, fly, bantam, etc.), and scoring is by individual division, women’s and men’s teams, and country team. For example, in the 1988 Olympics, the United States Team (of 7 men & 8 women) won second in the world. The men’s team won second also. And the women’s team won first!! Overall, the United States Team took home 11 medals that year; four gold, two silver, and five bronze.
MARTIAL ARTS BACKGROUND
- 1980 – Started in Shotokan Karate at De Anza Jr. College with Irv Ploke and John Stevenson.
- 1983 – Achieved Advanced Brown in Shotokan, started training in Taekwondo just for fun.
- 1984 – Switched to Taekwondo so I could train w/my future husband, Brian Hee.
- 1984 – Trained full time at Mackowski’s Taekwondo (now called Golden State TKD) with instructors Marty Mackowski, Debbi Pedersen, and Chris Jensen.
- 1982-84 – Competed in many local tournaments, mostly in forms competition, and a few, point fighting events.Competed for first time in W.T.F. style competition (semi-contact). Placed second to seasoned champion fighter, Diane Buhisan/Murray.
- 1985 – Trained for and placed second in U.S. National Championships.
- 1985 – Competed and won first place at U.S. Team Trials.
- 1986 – Competed and won second in World University Games (lost to Chinese Taipei).
- 1986 – Competed and won second at U.S. National Championships.
- 1986 – Competed and won U.S. Team Trials.
- 1987 – Competed and placed 5th at World Championships, Barcelona Spain (lost to Chinese Taipei).
- 1987 – Competed and won second at U.S. Nationals.
- 1987 – Competed and won first at U.S. Team Trials, and Finals.
- 1988 – Member of United States Olympic Team.
- 1988 – Won Gold Medal for the United States, in the Womens’ Lightweight Division at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
- 1988 – Trained with many top competitors and champions from many different styles of martial arts.
- 1989-Present – Learned and ‘played’ with many top movie fight coordinators and stunt doubles. Practiced many styles of fighting for the movies, including Capuera, Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Kung Fu, Schai-Jow, Wrestling, Boxing. Performed many fight choreographs w/many weapons, including sai, broadsword, kama staff, sticks, fan, and Chinese rope dart. Rehearsed and filmed with mini-tramps and Chinese and American style wire work.
- Spinning kicks
- Multiple spinning kicks
- Use of elbows and knees
- Left hook punch
- Misc. Weapons
- Debbie Pedersen
- Chung Sik Choi
- Chris Jensen
- Sang Chul Lee
- Marty Mackowski
- Irv Ploke
- Seung Hyung Lee
- Brian Hee
- Valerie Long
- Lydia Zele
- Marcia Hall
- Heather Tallman
- Sammy Pejo
- Sharon Jewell
- Kim Dotson
- James Lew
- Don Wilson
- Chuck Norris
- Bruce Lee
- Cheryl Wheeler
- Mark Cheng
- J. J. Perry
- Clay Barber
- Chuck Norris
- Sammo Hung
- Jackie Chan
- Chow Yun Fat
- ‘Johnny’ Eng
- Andy Cheng (Jacky Chan’s double)
- Ming Liu
- John Medlin
- Sophia Crawford
- Michael “Chat” (Chatarantubut)
- ‘Hollywood’ from Ayutthaya, Thailand
- Robin Shou
- Christopher Lambert
- Marcus Young
First time I broke a board.
My advanced Brown belt test in Shotokan.
Sparring my wonderful, always loved, ex-husband, Brian Hee.
First time sparring w/Marcia Hall
I sure remember that very light, ball of the foot to the stomach that knocked the wind out of me! It was a nice wake-call to what women could do!
First time sparring w/Lydia Zele
I couldn’t believe how she could move and kick!
First tournament, sparring w/Diane Murray (Buhisan)
That kick to my tailbone still makes my stomach lurch! Dang she’s strong!
Oh so hard… and oh so amazing! Second place, wow! And guess what? I discovered that our sport would be introduced into the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea in 1988. Three years off! So I soon decided, that here was my second chance to make my dream of Olympic Gold come true. I made a vow to myself, that I would follow this dream and not give up, no matter what! Unlike what I had done previously in track and field, I was not going to give up and walk away!
Second Nationals, Final match
What the hell’s wrong with my stamina!!
Training Upstate NY w/Master Chung Sik Choi
Fixed the stamina problem!
Moving to Colorado Springs to train at Olympic Training Center
Living off campus… but training at the famous Olympic Training Center with Masters Dae Sung Lee, Han Wan Lee and my favorite, Olympic Coach, Master Sang Il Lee.
Third Nationals, Final match
Despite being sick… I thought I had this one… till they didn’t raise my hand! Aghhhh!
Ouch! Got kicked in the back.
So close… and almost…? I got clocked in my first round by a spinning heel kick. It dropped me to the floor. I got up in time for the count, and ended up winning. Amazing! There is a God!
Moving into O.T.C. to train for Olympics
Lots of pressure, pain, and kicks! Combining my asthma and heart problem with my back injury, constant muscle pulls and strains was not all fun. I vividly remember sitting in that ice whirlpool many a time after practices!
Training Practice at the O.T.C.
I especially remember my teammates’ encouragement on our team runs. Me, trying to keep going w/my breathing issue… and them chanting and occasionally yelling, H..E..E..W..O..M..A..N!!!
In Seoul, two weeks before Games
After only a week of training, the pain in my back was so excruciating, I had to quit training. Physically, that is. I practiced mental visualizations while my teammates kicked. And as part of my treatment (for the injury that was sustained back in the Olympic Trials), I made friends with the guards that let me pass on to the hospital every night. I especially wanted to take a picture of the Korean ‘Ninja’ guards; all dressed in black w/their machine guns. But they said it was against policy. I made them a bet. If I won a Gold Medal in Taekwondo… they’d have to let me take a picture. I guess they thought a skinny white girl didn’t have a chance!
Second match in Olympics w/Chinese Taipei
Wow! Good thing I didn’t see this girls’ earlier match w/Korea. It might have blown my psyche. But as luck would have it, I thought I was better than her. I definitely was a bit stronger, and just as fast. And I definitely had a vow to beat any Chinese Taipei opponent, as I was pissed off after losing to two of them at World Competitions before! And perhaps Lady Luck was on my side that day… because, I won. Though there was no question in my mind that I had won, that I was the superior fighter in that match, the score was close enough that the fight could’ve been given to her. It wasn’t exactly my dream of winning by knockout, but what the heck! I’ll take an Olympic Gold any which way I can earn it!
Winning Olympic Gold
Standing up on that podium, with the United States Anthem playing, was a once in a lifetime moment of glory. All the hard work, the pain, the anguish, the uncertainties, the bills, everything; it was all worth it. Not to say that the win itself was everything. That was nice! But what meant more to me, was that I had taken a goal, stuck to it to the not so bitter end. Many older competitors said that I just ‘got lucky.’ Well, I know I trained my tail off, and was ready, both mentally and physically. I was ready to win, and I thought I could win. So, I say… that ‘luck,’ is when preparation meets opportunity!
Night of win… with Korean guards
Ahh… the thrill of victory! The first thing I did when our team got back to the Olympic compound, was for me to head directly to my ‘Ninja’ guard friends, with camera in hand!!! I got a great picture!
A few days with my husband to tour Seoul
Our sport was so fortunate, in that our competition was at the beginning of the Games. I got to spend several days after I won, just going around with my husband, to visit all the Olympic sites and venues. What a great way to celebrate his support, and my achievement.
Coming home to find Goli, (my sister), and Brian and everyone at airport
I was quite shocked to find so many of my friends and loved ones waiting at the airport when I arrived from Korea. Wow! Again, that was a once in a lifetime, wonderful memory!
Flying to Louisiana, to have an Olympic Celebration party with family
Of course, soon after coming home, I flew to Louisiana to be with my mother, who had been supporting me by television monitoring. Even she had an assembly waiting for me there! What a time! I sure wish my grandparents had been alive to be there also.