As we talked about your “black-belt” anniversary yesterday I was reminded of a note I had written after you had completed your test, but I had never posted.

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 It’s hard to put in to words how proud I am of you. You’ve received the platitudes about the hard work and dedication. About putting your doubts and fears aside and performing your best when your best was called for. These are all well deserved.

When I look at this photo I can’t help wonder, what exactly was going through your mind? Was it living up to your “legacy” and the family tradition of excellence? Was it the two catastrophic knee injuries? I watched you go through the physical, and emotional, impact of the first ACL tear, and the dedication it took to fight through the pain to get healthy. I then watched you to go through a second ACL injury, just when you were close to being back and healthy, and have to go through it all again. I don’t know of many people who could have done that. Just getting to that moment, standing at attention waiting for your test to start, was proof enough you deserved to wear that belt.

Were you fighting self-doubt? The fear most everyone feels at that moment, will you rise to the occasion and be considered worthy of the belt you had worked so hard to prepare for?

I don’t know what was in your mind, you may not even remember…but what I know is this. On Saturday, September 8th, 2012, I witnessed you rise to your very best. Every doubt and fear you had expressed before Saturday had been wiped away. When you made a mistake, you moved past it. When you needed that extra boost of energy, it came from somewhere deep down inside you. When you started Form 4 with a tremendous Protecting Fans and booming kia, you didn’t just announce to everyone you had arrived, you kicked down the door. You took command of the entire studio at that moment. I heard from more than one person that that was the best they had ever seen you perform and there are very few people who can say that. At the moment when their best was called for, they delivered.

There is nobody who was in the studio that day, who witnessed your test, who can say you didn’t deserve to walk out with your black belt, not a single person…and more than anything that is what I take the most pride in – The fact that you walked out of that studio knowing you earned it and erased all doubts in YOUR mind that you may not have been worthy.

Sean