I wish I could capture each story of these pictures to show you the dedication of these girls, their teammates, and coaches.
And since I can’t by picture, I will do what I do best. Storytell. And this is one you want to hear.
After spending 14 hours at a tournament in Illinois yesterday and with very few hours of sleep, I felt a shift in my heart and respect for these competitors & what they CHOOSE to do.
Mara started off the day strong with forms and board breaking. She even earned Grand Champion in breaking. But what was going to be a challenge was sparring in the Black Belt division. With no kids in her age group, she decided to fight up with the age group above. And with a lot more experienced competitors. She watched another teammate push through a very tough match and bow out. But what is so empowering to watch is these kids STEP IN anyways. Knowing they can be outmatched. Knowing they can end up hurt. But also knowing there’s a chance that can come out victorious.
So Mara stepped in and within about 30 seconds fell and got the wind knocked out of her. I could tell she was struggling to just breathe. She took kick after kick to the head. But she stayed in. In the second round, with the encouragement of Coach Cindy, she came out with a vengeance. She got some great kicks in and then took a kick to the throat. Not being able to fight back any longer, she bowed out. And I fill tears welling up as I write this.
Watching your kid get kicked around and not being able to defend them is pretty true to life, right? You know that they have to step into the arena and risk defeat if they are ever going to be victorious. So with tears streaming down her face and a jammed finger, she still rallied enough to go watch her sister in the next ring (See picture at the top).
It looks like they are living life, right? Both smiles. But we never know what battle someone has just been through. Their smile may be simply their strength returning. And that is what makes me SO proud.
Caitlin did a phenomenal job with forms and breaking & went up against several national competitors. She walked away with a Silver and Bronze and said she was just so proud to have placed at all. Then came her sparring round. Her competitor was the Grand Champion in both Forms and Sparring and they became friends. And Caitlin knew what she was up against stepping in. She took a pretty big kick to the head…but as I saw her come out of it, there were no tears. There was a confidence, an ability to shake it off and just keep going. And that was something that was new. Not being phased when you get rocked. And as she stood up, the girl went down from hurting her ankle. She had to bow out and Caitlin won. But what was so incredible was Caitlin’s care toward this competitor. She went over to check on her several times, brought her medal from the podium, and even took hers off because she said she didn’t feel right wearing it while checking in with this girl. That is humility. And grace.
Now for my humility, it may need some work with some of the things that flew out of my mouth during some of these Cobra Kai style of fights. BUT…we are all works in progress, right?
And the resolve of the other teammates from KTA was truly inspiring. And we stayed until almost midnight to cheer on every person from our team.
There is so much to be learned about life by simply checking your pride, ego, and own will at the door. And just getting out of your comfort zone. But I found that I needed that gut check too. And had to ask myself, “When is the last time you’ve stepped into the arena & faced a fear of yours?”
And so we shall see what is next. But for now, I love seeing these competitors always strive to improve and unconditionally support each other.