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Nov 202013

There is a point in the life of a running shoe where it’s finally broken in just right: there is a respectable amount of dirt ground into the mesh, a bit of gravel has taken up permanent residence in the tread, and the laces remember exactly where to bend. They put to shame the newer kids on the shoe rack without mar, scuff or discernible wear on the soles…no character yet, no adventures. The favorites tell the best stories.

Same with fight gear: gloves need a little electrical tape, uniforms fade, and the belt starts fraying around the knot. Looking down a row of competitors being written into the fighting bracket, one can’t help but notice the varying levels of newness represented. Some of our saltiest fighters are wearing gis that are no longer in production. THESE are the guys you really want to watch. As the saying goes, “Old age and treachery always beats youth and skill.”

One of my students revels in adding patches to his gi because it implies experience…oh, the innocent cunning that flavors promising newbies. One can possess a pile of potential and let it go to waste without the guidance of experience.


Age and wisdom is highly revered in many cultures and the Japanese tradition is amongst them. Silver hair and smile lines are “value added”, not hidden. The running advice I take most seriously is not from books and magazines, but from one of my heroes who has completed over 60 marathons plus some ultras, often winning his age division. The most valuable fight training comes from our Chief Instructor who has made a living as a successful kick boxer and world title holder. You can’t fake experience.

Our Person of the Year for this tournament season is a lady who has won the fight against cancer four times. Ms. Judy will admit she’s not the fastest in the ring, but we all know that no one there has fought harder. She continued attending class through treatment and recovery. She instructed while seated sometimes, but she showed up. You can’t fake character.

“Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:4.

May we take the rough patches with joy, appreciate lessons learned from injury, and become battle tested ourselves.

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  One Response to “Battle Tested”

  1. Great story! All of my favorite peeps are the scuffed up kind :)

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