(an unexpected take-away from a karate tournament)
You might be thinking, “this is a pointless read.” “I am not interested in karate.” Well, this isn’t just about karate, this is about us, you and me. And this is about our kids, so buckle up.
I couldn’t even think of a good play on words for a title. It just is what it is. But I’m so anxious to get right down to it, I’m not going to try to bait you in with a funny story.
I took my kids to a karate tournament today. It was crowded, so immediately, not my thing. But this wasn’t about me and I needed to get over myself, real quick. And I did.
My kids were SOOO excited about this. Honestly, they behaved better on this trip than probably any other trip we’ve taken. It was their FIRST tournament.
They were nervous. They mingled with their friends, some older, some younger. They tried to shake off their nerves for at least two good hours before it began. I watched as my son (11) encouraged a younger student. I watched as older students encouraged my kids.I’m used to seeing this at belt rankings and during class, but this was a competition! They were competing against each other and I’m sorry to say, I rather expected it to get as ugly as some youth sporting events I’ve been to. You know, where the refs get yelled at and parents get into fights. Yeah….😞 I digress….
A little later on, I heard an adult competitor say they hadn’t seen a much older Sensei in a while, and she said “I need to go find him and make sure he’s alright.” She found him across the gym, watching and encouraging a young student.
As my son and daughter went up to spar, I noticed some of the older teenage students coaching them and encouraging them. As a parent, I can’t help but approve. As a human, I suddenly became aware of this beautiful circle.
Each child, young adult, adult and older adult at this tournament had an intrinsic responsibility for the well-being of another. The older ones took care and looked after the hearts of the younger ones. In turn, the younger students, not only look up to the older students and teachers, they look after them as well.
Everyone was included. Everyone was important. No one was there on their own. Each person was a competitor, a coach, a student and a teacher. Each person gave respect and received respect in return.
Many days, I find myself shaking my head in shame, disappointment and disbelief at the things I hear and see human beings do. Today was different. Today, I was impressed. My heart is glad that I had this experience. My spirit is lightened to see that this phenomenon still exists and that my children get to be a part of it.
I am moved by the knowledge that this good character is being purposely developed through corrective encouragement and self-discipline. My kids need this and quite frankly, every community needs more of this.