December 4, 2011
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Everything is in slow motion. I hear the crowd roaring and my heart is pumping; hard. The guy in front of me is huge like a giant and I can see his muscles bulging out through his uniform and gear. His head sits on his shoulders confidently and I see he is looking down at me. Compared to him, I am smaller, not as built, and I look nervous. I have fought in many competitions, but this is the first time I am in the finals. I wish there was someone else I could fight but he is the only person left that is my age and belt rank; there is no going back now.

The referee comes into the ring and tells us to meet in the middle. He stands between the two of us and instructs us to bow and get ready. When we get into our fighting stances, we each yell. My opponent’s yell was so loud that it echoed throughout the building. Mine, however, sounded apprehensive. The referee looks at the two of us waiting for us to nod to signal we are ready. We nod and he tells us to begin. My opponent doesn’t hesitate, he charges at me like a raging rhino. He comes at me with a punch flying towards my face. My instincts kick in and I immediately duck, move to the side, and throw a round house kick to his left side. My counter attack catches him by surprise, but my kick doesn't do much damage to him. In my head I think, “This is going to be a long fight.”

We continue fighting for what feels like an eternity, but finally the first round ends. The referee breaks us up and has us go to our coaches to get some water and advice. As I walk to my corner, I see the score board. Shockingly, so far the score is ten for blue (my opponent) and nine for red (me). Break time ends and we meet in the middle again to begin round two. Again, the referee tells us to begin but this time we both take a minute to study each other before we start. We try to figure out each other’s weak spots and our plans for attack. He thinks he has me figured out so he starts. He comes at me with a fake and then a double round house kick. I get hit with both and I could feel the pain explode from my side to my head in a split second. I raise my head and shake it hoping that the pain will go away. Once my vision is normal, I see he is coming back at me. He throws another round house kick, but I move off to the side and I counter him with a round house kick and a back swing kick. Unlike the past few hits, this one actually takes him down to the ground. He gets back up with the look of pain on his face. He comes back at me with a combination of a round house and a 360°. The round house misses me on purpose but on the second kick, his foot collides with my head with the force of a speeding truck and it throws me to the ground. The pain that I feel in my head is one like I have never felt before. I want to forfeit the match right then and there, but the voices in my head are telling me not to. I slowly start to stand back up. As I stand up I say to myself in hushed tones, “Blood, sweat, and tears. I am strong; I am a black belt. Do NOT give up this fight.”

Round two ends; only one more round to go. The score is now tied up at 17. I sit down, take a deep breath, and take a minute to pray. I thank God for getting me this far in the competition and then I pray that I survive this final round in one piece. I also pray that I win or at least make it a close win. I then take a minute to look around; I want to remember everything I can about this day. In one section of the stands I see my entire family, my karate friends, and my other friends. They are all watching me with hope and belief in their eyes. I look back to the ring and see the wet spots on the floor from where we would sweat, spit, or spill water. I then look to my opponent. He looks exhausted and weak, but at the same time looks strong. I hear the referee call us back up again for the final time. Round three is about to begin.

Before we start our fight, we shake hands and wish each other good luck. We then get into our fighting stances and yell. His yell is still as loud as It was in the beginning, but this time my yell was much louder that before. I yell with confidence and determination. Once again the referee tells us to begin. We each come at each other at the same time and we both deliver a round house kick to each other. The force of our kicks was so strong that it actually pushed us back some. We each steady ourselves and my opponent decides to take the opportunity to come at me. He comes at me with a roundhouse kick and at that exact moment I decide to do a back kick straight into his mid-section. My kick causes him to get the breath knocked out of him, which gives me an advantage. While he is struggling to catch a decent amount of air, I take the opportunity to get some good points in. I come at him with a triple roundhouse combination (low, middle, high) and then a 360° roundhouse. I hit him with all of my kicks and the combination of them takes him to the ground. Instead of getting right back up like before, he struggled. He wobbled and shook with weakness and eventually he crumbled to the ground with defeat.
The referee begins counting down from ten and each number he says makes the audience yell louder and made me smile bigger. As he counts I take the liberty to look at the score board and to my surprise I actually had more points than he did. The score is 25 for blue and 29 for red. I hear the referee say the last number and I immediately jump up and down and the crowed goes wild. My family and karate team rush to me and lift me onto their shoulders. They parade around the arena cheering my name and in my head I play the song “We are the Champions”. They finally put me down in front of the judges so I could receive my medal and trophy. The trophy was much taller than me, probably about five or six feet tall. The medal was incredibly heavy, but it felt so good to wear it.
The crowed begins to disperse and I see my opponent talking to his coach and gathering his things. I walk over to him and give him a handshake. I tell him that he was the best opponent I have ever fought and that this match was the hardest but the best experience I have ever had. I then turn to the coach and tell him that he has trained his student well. I gave my medal to my opponent to show respect for his fighting skills. He was hesitant to take it at first but I insisted that he did. Once he took it, I wished them a great evening and left to go home with my family. This night was the best night of my life. I never felt so proud of myself before and I now found a new confidence in me that wasn’t there before.

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