The Heart Of A Fighter

The scriptures say this:

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him.” – Psalms 127:3 (NLT)

Our children are a blessing, not a curse.  An asset, not a liability.  They add to our life and don’t subtract from it.

Our kids can even teach us a thing or two.

Once, my then 9-year-old son, Tristan, excitedly told me that he wanted to learn karate.  He had seen some pictures taken of our friend, Sensei Nick, when he was testing for black belt.  Tristan wanted the ability to deliver Chuck Norris magnitude round houses to any that would dare challenge him.

I knew the reality.  He was gonna learn to fight, and in doing so, he was gonna get hurt.  On the long road to black belt, Nick has endured bruising, cracked ribs, dislocated jaw, and broken nose.  Repeatedly.

Tristan was not to be deterred, so he showed up to the dojo with white belt around his waist and eagerness in his eyes.

Students aging from 9 to mid 20s in diverse rank attended the dojo and in one of Tristan’s very first sparrings was paired with an older student in his late teens. The older student was expected to pull punches and kicks.  They weren’t intentionally trying to hurt anyone, especially the younger students.

Within a few minutes, however, a completely unintentional yet perfectly timed and executed spinning back kick hit Tristan full force right in the solar plexus and Tristan dropped hard.

Curled up on the floor with a look of pain and agony on his face, Tristan struggled to capture his breath.  As tears flowed from his eyes, he looked around.  Embarrassed at everyone watching what went down.

My first instinct was to come to his side, pick him up, and let him know everything was gonna be alright.  Something within me said,

“Wait.  This is the moment when Tristan has to decide if he really wants to do this.”

So I waited.  With Sensei’s coaching and his fellow student’s encouragement, Tristan recovered his breath, wiped away the tears, and within minutes was back in the fight.  Sparring with new resolve and increased intensity.

Moms you may not understand this, but I can say that as a father, I had never been more proud of my son up to that day.

You can’t teach the heart of a fighter.  You either have it or you don’t.

Though knocked down, Tristan decided he was not out.  He worked through the pain and got back in the fight.

That day, my son reminded me of some valuable truths…big dreams aren’t easily achieved.  Hurts and pain are likely to occur somewhere along the road.  And through the agony, we must all decide how much we are willing to fight.

Today, about to turn 11, Tristan will soon be testing out of the junior ranks.  He’s endured bruising, bloody noses, kicked ribs, and he’s been knocked down.  Repeatedly.

But twice a week for two years now, Tristan (and now his little brother Cameron) go back to the dojo…

…and fight.

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2 thoughts on “The Heart Of A Fighter

  1. Carlitos, I’m impressed by you and now your sons. What a blessing you all are! Blessings to all Soto generations! I hope to meet your wife someday. I really enjoy your thoughts. You have a gift for communication in writing and in many areas. Keep it up!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Elsita. This writing thing is new for me, but after taking a couple of english classes, it’s not such an intimidating thing. I just look at writing as a new way to worship and glorify God. If I can help or bless someone along the way, that would be a definite plus!

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