At Christmas, I think about my parents & sister, who have gone before. Their love & example is the chief reason, I have achieved anything in my life. I am deeply grateful.
One of the chief storylines in my life has to be that I am a fighter. It goes all the way back to a good father. I remember being jumped on by a bunch of boys after little league football practice and I wouldn’t do anything to defend myself except cry.
After enough of this went on that my father was concerned about why I didn’t make it home, from practice. He went out to see where I was at. He saw a gang of boys and me on the ground. Daddy would not stand for me to be a crybaby, if I had not tried to defend myself. So dad knew he had to teach me a lesson. But Daddy was unconventional. He had his own ways about dealing with everything..
As he got out of that old treework stationwagon, he looked like a mountain to me. And Boys scattered and would have run, but dad made them all stay put. I will never forget the place at the old Amazon cottonmill. I thought wow, this is going to be good! Dad wanted to know which one it was. So I just picked the oldest, biggest boy, who had been the ring leader. “It was him dad,” I can still hear myself say.
I was sure ready to see that bully get what was coming to him. But Dad looked at me, with those steel blue eyes. And I knew he wasn’t kidding: When he said do you wanna fight him or me?
Needless to say I went and jumped on the ruffian. I don’t know if I won or not cause my nose was bleeding when daddy pulled me off top of him. But my faith in myself was restored. Instead of leaving there a bewildered coward, I was able to hold my head up high, that I had stood up for myself. Instead of going to school the next day to face ridicule, I was respected.
Many, many times I have had to remember that lesson. In punt pass and kick as a boy I jumped over a fence and landed on it, and pulled muscles out of the back of my leg. Things were different than they are now. But back then, they let me persuade them, to go ahead & compete before I went to get my leg sewed up… That determination paid off. I will never forget that when I came back, they announced my courage, and gave me the 1st prize I had won for my age group.
Don’t get me wrong. I lost some fights along the way. In a pretty big way sometimes. But it always made me try a little more. I never thought about quitting. And when I would get back in the ring, I’d akways be a better competitor.
As a result, I’ve won some fights that were great accomplishments. And of course I have and do teach fighting, as a way of life. Which is more about teaching young men to give their heart to the Lord, and do their best to be their best in all of life, than getting into street fights.
But I will never forget the price that I paid to get here. To have something valuable to teach.
For instance, I remember in a fight in Florida, I chased my opponent out of the ring. And As I turned to go back to center he sucker punched me. I call my nose today, “a designer nose” because I have had to have replaced twice. I remember that day being so enraged that only my daughter crying “daddy please stop,” Kept me from Taking my opponent out for good. Of course they disqualified him. But that doesn’t seem to matter much. When you’re having your face reconstructed.
Broke toes on both feet. Both shoulders broken. Both knees operated on. And on and on the list could go. But I would do it all again! Except that I would have gotten closer to Jesus quicker. So I could have being a better servant of God along the way.
So now, I have pretty much replaced myself with younger men & ladies. It’s their time to fight and teach. But I still have plenty to teach them & none doubt that I would climb in the ring myself, with them, if and when needed. I am thankful for that & them.
Bottom line?? My Christian testimony is that I have never started a single fight. BUT I did go pull a young man out of a bar fight, while he (& I) were in great danger. BUT I did go fight a whole group of ruffians, to keep the innocent safe in a Hardee’s Florida parking lot one night. And was able to talk the drunkards into going home and meet me in the dojo the next day, (but they never did). BUT I did take on a gang, to keep a young man from getting his head plowed into a store plate window in High Point. They left quickly and he left in one piece. So I was glad I did. And more true stories of the same type exist. So yes I have used my skills through the years.
But the biggest ways that I have used my skills is; valued & important friends that once upon a time I taught, from across the United States, who still keep up with me. Because younger in life, I taught them an invaluable skill that still helps guide them today. And shared a heart of faith and determination, which will never fail them. And as a reward to this old Sensei, they still say hello from time to time.
And I can see in the young men & women that learn from me, & teach for me today; the same heart of championship glowing inside them. This means more to me than I can say.
Yes, I am a Quaker Preacher And a man of peace. I definitely DO and will turn the other cheek. But don’t forget, Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers and that was a very courageous act. I am sure they didn’t exactly like it.
So, should the only way to protect myself & the people I love, be to fight. Daddy would be proud. I will & do definitely stand up, for myself & teach others to do the same.
I have no greater joy than seeing how wonderfully previous students do in living great, productive lives. Unless it is seeing the vitality and true valor, Of current students who are giving their best to be their best today!
Should I ever lose the ability to teach, this is a treasure that I will take with me to my grave. And in some way or another, I will keep my fighting spirit until I leave here. And offer any victories that I have won, as presents to my Lord & master Jesus.
Because really Jesus is The One I get my strength from & fight my battles for. The fight for our salvation is a fight I could never win. And don’t have to, because He fought that battle for me and for all of you! So I fight today in the strength of the One, who defends me eternally, against the enemy of my soul! And wow can I rest easy! Because The Lord fights for me & for all those who trust their lives to Him. And He has already won the fight & will forever win the everlasting victory!
So a little older, a little wiser and a little weaker, I fight on – – in honor of my earthly Father and my Heavenly Father. And for the sake of & in service to Jesus Christ my Lord. And when the day comes that I can no longer fight in Christ’s service. I will gladly “let go” And trust in the eternal safety of His care.
1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.
1 John 5:4
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Romans 8:37 In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Ephesians 6:13 Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.