If you follow my Facebook posts at all you know I am very involved with my son Xander’s training and competition in Taekwondo. He has been competing for only a few years now having won both State and National Titles in that time. Recently we were visiting another studio for a inter school sparring event, the idea being that if all you spar are the people in your school every week you can get used to those fighters, this kind of event gives you the ability to see people you wouldn’t normally spar, except at the local competitions. This brings me to the point, that while we were at this event a parent of one of the other students approached me and asked if Xander was my son. I had recognized the young man with him as someone that Xander had competed against in one of the local tournaments earlier in the year.
The parent wanted to tell me that he was very impressed with Xander’s sportsmanship, it turns out that Xander had beat his son at that competition and it had been the first one his son had ever attended. To let you know competitions can be a jarring experience, you train for months and can be knocked out with the first loss with at their age is two one minute rounds. So losing first round and your out can cause kids to get particularly upset, it’s happened to Xander in the past and I know he never takes it well. It seems while Xander was waiting for his next match, he went up to the young man and told him he did a good job, that he would keep getting better, and that he hoped to see him again at the next tournament. I never saw this, but not surprising between matches I normally give Xander space after a few words about his last performance. The parent went on to tell me that this simple act turned his son’s day around and encouraged him to continue to compete when he could have easily quit (quite a few kids only compete once). I look forward to seeing this young man at future tournaments competing with Xander. While this parent gave me credit for doing a good job with Xander, a lot of the credit should also go to Master Washington for working with Xander since he was 6.
Words cant express how I felt at that moment though I’ll try. It was a mixture of pride and admiration for my son, and also a lesson for myself, that winning can take several different forms. I don’t remember what place Xander took at that tournament off the top of my head, but I will remember that Xander took the time to care for one of his fellow competitors to make sure that it was about the competition and not about winning.