When my son TJ and I started taekwondo together it was largely because he wanted to do it and was too young at the time (4½) to do it by himself. It quickly grew into a Tuesday/Thursday night father/son ritual that included practice, a good steam, and après-TKD at the Denver Athletic Club pub. Doing a sport with your young son normally centers on a relationship where you’re an “expert” and he’s a “novice,” but here we both started as novices and shared the learning process together. This has been humbling – he’s seen me fail (a lot), he’s seen me get my ass kicked (too often) and ache, and he’s seen me fight to squeeze out what athleticism remains in my aging body. It’s also been fun and rewarding, and will continue to be. Most importantly I got to experience firsthand what an amazing kid he is – always positive and respectful, a quick study, an incredible athlete, with the heart of a lion.
As a parent, there are lots of great moments, however many are fleeting and quickly fade from memory; only a select few get permanently etched in your mind. Getting our black belts together is one of the latter. Not because of the moment itself, but because of what it represents to me – in a word, fatherhood.
—Craig Secrest is a consultant in Denver, Colorado. He served four years in the US Army.