Friday, July 14, 2006

Martial Motivation


I've won quite a few things in my life. Lost more than I've won, but I have quite a few plaques on my wall. Well, ok, they're in a box in a clset since SW doesn't want them all over the house. But I've won them nonetheless.

One victory that I had was when I was a teenager taking Karate with my Dad. The organization we're all in now, ATA, has tournaments out the wazoo. The organization I was in then, Fred Villari's Studios of Self Defense, didn't have them that often. So in the whole time I was taking it (about 2 years) I only entered one tournament.

One of the events was sparring. Essentially you and another dude would put on gloves and go at it. You face each other and a referee raises his hand from between you to start the fighting. You got points for making contact in the head or body area, when a judge would raise a red or white flag to signify the hit. Once a point was scored, you stopped, reset, and did it again. This went on until someone scored five points.

I entered my one and only tourney as a blue belt, roughly halfway to Black Belt. I kicked ass in another event--even won a trophy--but it was sparring that I really wanted to do well in.

I faced off in my first real match, my Dad and high school sweetheart sitting in the stands watching (can you say "Karate Kid?" Hey--it was a good movie). We went back and forth for a while, and he was a hell of a lot better than I. He scored three, then I scored three, then he scored his fourth, and I scored my fourth. Next point wins.

I'm still not sure why I did this, but when the ref's hand went up I yelled as loud as I could a threw myself (all 190 pounds of me) through the air at him, with no hope of landing on my feet. As I sailed by I shot my fist out and bopped him on top of the head. I went crashing by him into the crowd standing nearby like a bowling ball and landed on my back, out of the ring. When I looked up, both judges snapped red flags (my color) into the air.

The crowd (my Dad and girlfriend, but it felt like the crowd) went wild. I won my first match.

I actually went on to get trounced in the semi-finals, so I never won a trophy for it. But I tell you what--I have never had such a great feeling of triumph (ok, maybe I have--but not in sports) since then. It was, to be a teenager for a moment, so cool.

That's one of the reasons we're taking this completely insane adventure right now as a family. Not only do I want that feeling again, but I want the monkies to have it to. I want them to go further in the sport than I could due to circumstance. Those two years have stuck with me ever since, and I desperately want it to be a part of their lives.

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