Let's talk for a bit about an unexpected LB topic, MMA,or Mixed Martial Arts. MMA has been a part of our family for many years now. For awhile, both myself and three of my kids practiced several times a week. I punched, kicked, ducked, and dodged in a uniform for five years. I loved it. I felt so strong in body, mind, and intention. I have since switched physical fitness avenues, but our son is going on his sixth year, and still going strong. In every sense. His program consists of multiple techniques and classes, but his area of love and talent has proven to be grappling/wrestling. He shines at it. He competes twice or thrice a year and has poo,poo,poo, come home almost every single time with a gold first place medal🏅. Our son happens to be an inherently gentle natured child. He has never been a bounce off the walls type of boy. He's extremely active and fun, but is most certainly a lover and not a fighter. He's very kind, gentle, and sensitive. His huge green eyes are an ocean of healthily accessed emotion. He's the kind of kid who greets me with, "mommy, did you have a good day today?", which turns even the worst days into excellent ones. He is not aggressive, he's fairly calm. He is not suspicious natured. But put him on that mat,and it's Go Time🚦.
His innate skill set in grappling is fascinating to me. In one second, with extreme focus, control, and inner strength, my sweet prince becomes a fighting King. It's a marvel to watch. What his dad and I love so much about him doing this, are the lessons MMA teaches. Even as difficult as it is to watch other kids attack your baby. I'm literally weeping and pulling at my hair and face. This sport really is a metaphor for life in so many ways: You are a team of one. If you lose focus you'll be tackled, if you stay disciplined you will stay strong and succeed. Be prepared for any opponent at any time. Your reflexes are everything and your reaction to adversity will determine your outcome. Literally rise up to any challenge, no matter how big or scary. It's the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog, that determines the outcome.
This is not a team sport. You cannot rest on anyone else's laurels here. If you lose, you lost on your own and you must deal with that. But if you win, that victory is entirely yours. You had support, you had encouragement, but you had no help. If you tap out, you forfeit. If you give up in life, that may be instantly easier in the moment, but no doubt you'll have given up on some amazing opportunity. The lessons for parents are abound as well. Sure, it's terrifying sending him out there, but I trust this boy. He's smart ,he's instinctive, and I know he trusts himself too. As parents, we need to trust our children more and teach them not to cower behind us. Our strength becomes theirs. Our fears become theirs as well. They cannot fly if we tie up their wings out of selfish fear. It's not fair.
Before every competition, we are sent a list of rules that include "no biting, no hair pulling, no scratching of the face" (my baby's face!!!). The rules are standard but standard for who, prison inmates??? I always say to his father, "we know this stuff already. Maybe he shouldn't be thrown into a gladiator pit with kids that communicate via biting and ear tearing." But still we go, with Gatorade in our bags and pits in our stomachs. And iPads charged to film. It happens to look just like the last scene in the original Karate Kid. Thousands of people, 40 matches or so going on at once, medics on standby (great), and tattoos and facial piercings as far as the third eye can see. It ain't easy. But it's exhilarating. We listen to, who else, but Eminem in the car to psych ourselves up.