This past weekend, I had the privilege of witnessing my son, Jake, become a Black Belt. In this letter, I hope to convey the gratitude I feel toward you for all you have done to help Jake achieve this monumental goal and for the way you helped him achieve it.
Jake is the youngest of our three children. Even when I had only two children, though, I would dream about a third child, a boy, so when Jake was born, I felt as though I had already known him for many years, almost as though I had been waiting for him. He was not as easy as my older two children. He wanted to be with me every minute. He couldn’t fall asleep without playing with my hair and watching my face. He felt insecure in new situations, and rambunctious boys made him cling to me even more. Each time we signed him up for a sport, he wanted to quit because the coach spoke rudely or the boys were mean. I worried about him, but I also realized he was unusually smart and that he’d probably find his own way to succeed. Eventually, I figured out that Jake did best when I let him lead. That was definitely different for me!
When Jake told us that he wanted to learn karate, we were excited that he was showing interest in a sport, but that was about as much as we thought about it. We knew about you from Nikki Watkinson, who is our oldest son’s godmother, so we signed Jake up at TKC. In the beginning, Jake was older than a lot of the kids in his karate class, and this made him uncomfortable. You noticed this right away, though, and moved him to the teen class. Pretty soon, Jake asked us not to come into the karate studio during his class. He just wanted to be dropped off and picked up. That was definitely different for Jake!
In the beginning, we thought TKC would be a great place for Jake to challenge himself physically. I didn’t know then how many opportunities Jake would find to grow at TKC. What a gift you have created! Over the fast four years, Jake’s experiences at TKC have been truly transformative. When he started taking SWAT, Jake began to understand the depth of your words during those lessons influenced him profoundly. Jake has always been a thinker, but you have made him think more deeply. Jake has always been a hard worker, but you made him understand the importance of experiencing the journey, not just reaching the goal. I will always remember when you talked about making progress instead of attaining perfection. Jake had spent weeks worried about his red belt test, and your words put everything into perspective…immediately.
On Saturday, when you bestowed your own black belt on Jake, I was deeply moved. I felt that I was watching a moment that was always meant to be, if that makes sense. It was just the most natural thing in the world, even though it was always the most special thing that’s ever happened to Jake. Just as Jake was always part of my destiny, I think that you were always part of his. I’m grateful that he met you so early in his life and that he has a gift of learning from you and getting to know you these past four years. I know his life will always be better because you have been part of it.
With heartfelt gratitude,