I think I learned what awesome is

When I realized my karate teacher

Was barely five feet tall

All of my eleven years stood before her

And I still had to look down

Around the room rubber punching bags

Shaped like angry men watched us

As she threw five punches at me

And each of them stopped

Less than an inch away from my skin

I think I learned what winning is

When I threw a grown man over my shoulder

And he smiled at my progress

And what made me happy as I helped him up

Was that I’d made him proud

I think I learned what partnership is

When a girl punched my face so hard

My mouthguard came out

And we sat together afterwards

And laughed about it

Because I got her good in the face, too

And to this day she is the best opponent

I’ve ever stood up against

I think I learned what understanding is

When I won a competition in kicking

Against the rest of the dojo members

And when I was given the choice at what exercise

Their punishment was going to be

I looked at them as they panted for breath

And I said “Stretch”

And their relieved sighs

Was enough of a winning prize for me.

I think I learned what respect is

When I woke up to find the biggest bruise

I’ve ever gotten staining my forearm

Because of the night before when

I sparred against a black belt

I saw them later that day

They had no bruises

And I thought


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