“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times.” -Bruce Lee
My first love was Kenpo Karate. Under the tutelage of Larry Tatum and Ed Parker, at one point my dad was the 8th highest-ranking Kenpo Black Belt in the world. As a young boy, my father was my biggest influence. If he said it, I repeated it, if he wore it, I wanted to put it on, and if he did it, I damn well was going to do my best to do the exact same thing. Karate created a bond between the two of us that is hard to describe. He was my sensei; I was his student and his little buddy. He created his own studio and I became his shadow every step of the way. By the time I was 6 we were traveling every weekend to different karate competitions with the pinnacle event being the International Kenpo Karate Championship in Los Angeles. Trophies that were taller than I was began to stack up.
Yet the benefits of karate had nothing to do with winning trophies or learning advanced martial arts fighting strategies. The discipline, work ethic, and self-confidence I was taught was invaluable and still resonates with me in my everyday life. There is no other sport that I participated in as a kid that had a greater impact on the person I have become.
Today, the one sport that is mandatory for my three kids is karate. I basically look at it as if it is an extension of school. Eventually, I will let them decide if they want to keep going, but for now, it is not an option.
I kept competing at the highest level of karate until I was 12, and then the reality of an over-demanding school and athletic schedule took over. All of my friends were playing team sports, and I couldn’t help but feel as if I was missing out. Ultimately, I decided to give up karate. No doubt that must have been a dagger in my dad’s heart, yet he never made it seem as if that was the case or even remotely questioned my decision. This is the exact reason why I will forever be indebted to both of my parents. They never once pushed me into doing anything I did not want to do and always supported and encouraged me in every one of my athletic pursuits and life ventures. They both understood the vital importance of letting my sister and I carve out our own paths in life. Their one rule when it came to athletics was: if you start a season, you finish a season. Quitting was not an option.
Human Crash Test Dummy Life Lesson #4
I don’t care how old you are, it’s never too early or too late to begin something new. If you are a parent, lead by example and give your kids every opportunity to follow in your footsteps. If you or your kids have not already been, get into a martial arts or basic self-defense program. The discipline and confidence obtained will carry over into every other sport and every other arena of your life. Ultimately, there is a time for children to make their own path. Let them go. The martial arts lessons will be ingrained; it’s now up to both you and them to apply those lessons.[Listen to the audio version of Martial Arts is Life above, or on The Hustle Podcast.]