Last Saturday afternoon, we loaded the family in the van and drove to Utah County to attend a portion of my niece's black belt certification. It was an amazing experience.
We arrived halfway through the event. Across the south wall sat a row of judges all dressed in black. There room was huge and there were so many competitors on the floor. After eating lunch outside, we found spots inside and watched the action take place.
My niece did a fantastic job. She fought two black belts at the same time, fought five black belts in five minutes--fighting each black belt for a minute then the next one would come in. I was not prepared for how emotional it was to watch these kids fight through the pain and fatigue. Everyone in the dojo was screaming and cheering and we all counted down the last 10 seconds together. One of the competitors dropped the second the time ran out. Rarely have I seen kids work that hard.
The final test was the breaking of things. First boards, then bricks. My niece aced them both. There was one person who had some trouble with the bricks. She tried over and over again and failed to break the brick. I don't believe there was anyone in that room that would have belittled her or felt anything but empathy for the young woman. I think I learned more from watching her than I did anything else.
Watching my son workout with his karate trainers, I thought I had respect for the art. That respect increased last Saturday afternoon.