Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lessons in Karate

Ivan had his first "official" karate tournament a few weekends ago.

This was a first for most of the kids in his class - our dojo doesn't have a lot of tournaments.
The big excitement was sparring!
He likes learning and demonstrating the technical moves of karate, but, truth be told, what he really wants to do is hit someone!
They rarely get a chance to spar during their lessons, so to have an actual designated opportunity was highly motivating!

Ivan's not a naturally aggressive kid (which we are thankful for), but there's a time and place for everything.

It's strange to see your child fighting.  Attacking, defending, throwing punches, kicking - basically trying to dominate another child physically.  Strange to see but exciting too.

There were times my heart was racing.  Not out of concern for his well being...I mean he's completely protected...but out of a desire for him to WIN!
That crazy sports parent came out!
Donald maintained much more self control...and probably dignity too.
But I wasn't alone...all the mama's were yelling!

Anyway, there were three kids sparring that day, and it was double elimination.  A concept that the adults understood, but wasn't clearly explained to the kids.
Ivan won his first fight.

But lost his second and third.  When he sat down after his third fight, he didn't really understand yet that he was out.
Then, as the final two kids got ready to fight, Sensei announced that this battle was for first place.
I watched as Ivan, sitting far away from us off to the side, started to realize that he was in third place.

It killed me.
I watched as he casually wiped his eyes with his glove...then again.
Then I watched his head bow and silent tears start to flow.
And if that wasn't hard enough, I watched as he got ahold of himself - all by himself - and put on a brave face.
He did all of that without drawing attention from anyone but those of us who know him well.
And it was hard not to run over there.
Really hard.

But there's more to a tournament than just winning right?
There's lessons to be learned in the winning AND the losing.
You build character when you humbly accept your trophy or graciously bow to your partner in defeat.

"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of the character of its participants." - Gichin Funakoshi

And the beauty of it all is that he's just a kid...just a 9 year old kid who has so much lesson learning time left!
And happy kids get over disappointments with amazing speed!  By the time we got home, he was ready to move onto the next thing...whatever that might have been at the time.

We are always proud of you Ivan when you do your best.
It will always be good enough!


  1. Oh, Ivan! Look at your belt!!! When did you move on to the green with black stripe belt?! When I was visiting last fall you wore a yellow belt. WOW!!! Congratulations! I love your passion for this sport. And I am inspired by your character. In life, we win some and we lose some - most of the time a win or a loss is not remembered after some time has passed. What is remembered is how we handled ourselves during our triumph or defeat. You have so much class. You are outstanding! Always remember that!

    Gosh, can I be any more lucky that I get to be your aunt?!?! I don't think so!!! I love you.

  2. Ivan, granny and I are so proud of you. You have so much character for a lad so young. You will go far in this life. Keep up the good work!!! We love you, and look forward to seeing you again.

  3. Dear Aunt Joanna,
    I'm very lucky that I'm your nephew! I can't wait to see when you come here. Maybe you should name your baby Jonathan, and maybe Mike.
    Love, Ivan

  4. Oh, those are great names! Thank you. I will tell Uncle Brian. SO you sound certain I am having a boy?! Richard and Cole think so, too!