The fight I was watching ended. It came then passed off quickly. Sensei Anthony had fought a really tough fight and had won and I was next in the ring. “Was I nervous?” Unbelievably so, but there was a remarkable calm that came over me moments before the referee brought us together. When I looked at my opponent I knew that he was as petrified as me but somehow I also knew I had received the very best training possible: that my stamina was as good as it had ever been and that somewhat paradoxically, the strength of us all as individual fighters, was borne as much out of our invincible spirit as a united fighting team representing our club, as it was our individual ability to kick and punch.
This team spirit is I believe the rocket fuel that ignites the fighting spirit. People often ask what did you hit him with? The truth is that I can’t really remember other than I know I hit him far more than he did me. After the fight Sensei Anthony pointed to a healthy large blood stain on my white top – for once it wasn’t mine.
Moments later the referee held up my hand as a winner but honestly, the victory was owed as much to Sensei Raf and all the students and Instructors who had helped us with our training in the six weeks prior, as it did to my ability to outmanoeuvre my opponent. The sense of winning creates an opium of good feeling that I think is difficult to replicate in anything else and I think that Sensei Daniel, Sensei Andrei and Sensei Anthony would all agree with this sentiment. For my part and together with Sensei Nick for that brief moment in time we were all a union of winning Musketeers.
For any Student, male or female, who thinks that they would like to participate in a competition I would urge you to do so as it will be a real life enhancing experience and take you on an incredible journey.
That night the team gathered for a celebratory dinner of sublime tapas – sitting next to Sensei Raf I turned to him and said that I couldn’t believe that I had actually come full circle and successfully completed a competition. “I know” he sighed, “making you believe was probably the most challenging part. Once you began believing then everything else fell into place”. I thought about his words. “Sensei, you know that I’m still incredibly sore and the bruises haven’t gone down at all and…..” Sensei Raf looked at me blankly and raised three fingers. I turned back round and continued my meal in humble silence.
Stefano Ispani, November 2015
Watch Dai Master Raf’s inspirational new video ‘fit for life‘ and feel the spirit of the dojo.
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