We didn’t always hold tournaments at Karate Kids, but once we started over a decade ago, we never stopped!

Why do we love tournaments so much?

Sure, it’s fun for the kids to put their skills to the test.

Sure, it’s cool for the kids to win a trophy.

Sure, we all love to see the kids engaged in a little healthy competition.

DBKK tournament group photoBut when I think about tournaments, that’s not what I think about at all. Here’s what sticks in my mind…

At every tournament, you will see a child who never says a word in class suddenly let out a war cry that makes the grown-ups jump.

At every tournament, you will see students who appear to not pay attention in class suddenly do everything right.

At every tournament, you will see students get overwhelmed… catch their breath… and keep going.

At every tournament, you will see students clap for their opponent.

At the last tournament, we even saw a young boy (Go, Gavin!) hand over his trophy to another student who felt bad for not winning one of his own.

What a moment!

Without question, the kids who compete in the tournament try their best in every way. Even the parents take notice of the extra effort—

“I didn’t realize how much he’s learned!”

“I’ve never seen her do that in class!”

That’s why when I think about tournaments, the word that keeps popping into my mind is inspiring.

It’s truly inspiring to see so many brave little souls step up in front of friends, family, and strangers to try their best. Win or lose, they push themselves to new levels of focus, power, and respect.

As adults, it’s easy to lose the courage to step into the arena and put everything on the line. We sometimes worry so much about losing that we hold ourselves back from ever winning.

But take it from me, courage is contagious! When I see the kids breaking free from their fears, it makes me feel a little braver, too.

So, as we grow older, let’s all promise ourselves to never lose our courage. Like the brave kids at the tournament, let’s always build our spirit to step up and try our best!