As the cold sweat streamed down my face, a throbbing pain took hold of my numb body and, as I glanced over to my opponent, I noticed she too was aching. A piercing noise was heard and the match was over. As we faced each other and bowed, I realized I had just lost the sparring competition and oddly enough, I was at ease with my defeat. Both my competitor and I had worked extremely hard and in the end she won fairly. As I stood on the podium and received my silver medal, I could not help but feel a sense of pride, a feeling I had never experienced before. Looking down at the piece of silver plastic, I recall the journey that led up to this point.
I remember the first day I entered the dojo, I was completely miserable; here was this shy nine year old girl who had never played a competitive sport in her life and was being dragged into martial arts by her father. I looked over at all of the kids punching bags and kicking each other and I almost ran away, but I trusted my father’s instinct and I decided to give it a try. That first real blow into the punching bag was an eye opening experience. All of the angst and emotions I had bottled up inside were finally released and as the adrenalin pumped through my body, I just wanted to keep going.
As the weeks progressed, I noticed that not only was my body changing but also my outlook on life. Before martial arts, I was a very timid person who had no self esteem what so ever. However, after joining martial arts and not only competing but also socializing, I gained discipline, self confidence, and most importantly, the experience of working hard toward a goal.
Disciplining my mind and body and working hard toward something made me want to keep going to practice everyday and made me the person I am today.
Fast forward three years later, here I am, competing in a once in a lifetime opportunity, against the best of the best in all of New Jersey. Although I stand here with a silver medal in my hand, inside I feel like a winner. For me, the journey is not over. Whether I spend the rest of my life competing, or decide to quit tomorrow, I know that I will carry the lessons and values that I have learned throughout everyday life, and that is what makes me proud to wear my second place medal.