Shien and I are really glad Malachy took up Karate. It teaches respect, self-discipline, and the benefits of practice and hard work. The more experienced ones help out the less experienced one, and everyone is there to help each other to get better. They use a term, “OSU,” as a way of thanking each other and showing each other respect. Malachy has used it at home every now and then with me, and says, “Dad, that means I really respect you.” Very cool stuff.
Enter Malachy’s first tournament. I couldn’t pass up signing up for it. GUARANTEED trophy! A couple of weeks before I found out about this event, Malachy had told me he wanted a real trophy, not just stickers. I told him he’d get his chance… one day. It would be the first one in our family. I NEVER won a trophy. I won a few ribbons in a Field Day once, got many certificates through the years, but NEVER a trophy. My parents never put me into any competitive sports or activities, so the opportunity was never there. I always dreamed of having a trophy in my hands, a REAL trophy.
Of course, I didn’t want Malachy to know there was a guaranteed trophy. I told him he would have to earn it and that he had to do his best. So, even though his Karate teachers (Sesei and Sampei) told him that everyone got a trophy for entering, and he even read it on the registration, I was able to convince him that there was no guarantee, and he bought my argument. At the end of the day today, he was the one who told me, “Dad, it doesn’t even matter if I didn’t get a trophy. I had fun, and I did my best.” That’s my little Ninja with the big heart and the big mind. I’m always trying to teach him stuff, and he winds up teaching me. 🙂
In the first event, Malachy was called first. I knew that meant he probably wouldn’t win. When they gave out the ribbons, almost everyone got one, because there were so many subdivisions in terms of belts, so there were many first and second places in this event. One kid was crying and needed to be comforted, but Malachy was fine. Then, came the next event… Freestyle. I knew Malachy would have energy, but didn’t know what to expect, as this was the first time I’d ever watched this one-on-one “no-contact” tournament. Plus, there were some much bigger kids in terms of size. I reminded myself that he would still get that beautiful trophy, no matter what. Well, before my eyes, he won Round 1, and then he won Round 2, and then came the Final Round! He was up against a Blue Belt, who was much bigger than him. Oh well, at least he was now guaranteed 2nd place! But no… he got first! Amazing! He saved some of his best moves for the last round. Later on, he said these moves were inspired by his fellow competitors. Unbelievable. When we got out of the train station, on the way home, he asked Shien, “Is this a dream, Mommy?” I think I was thinking the same. Proud of our little champ.