Wow, I have been watching the olympics for the past several days. It is bittersweet watching the Judo live feeds online. In my competition pics it shows me at the Olympic trials for 1996. Although, life throws curve balls. You have to make lemonade out of lemons right? Well the thing is this, had I got to compete who knows where I would be. Would I be like Mike Swain and promoting Judo mats in Black Belt magazine? Would I have books and DVD's written and done making money hand over fist? Who knows. Actually, I don't really care. In single elimination I went in with a busted rib and a taped shoulder and was not the best that day. However, I tell you for all sincere certainty the following: Even with all my disabilities; Knees, Back, Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and all the little neat side effects of. I feel as though I couldn't be happier. I have a great wife and family, the coolest little dog name Louis and well I couldn't ask for a better relationship with my dad and parent in laws. To top it off, instead of "Needing" a huge dojang with a ton of students and all that stuff. I am happy with the "Dungeon" of a school I instruct judo at. The core of the Black Belts in St. L, well we don't do it for the money. We do it for the rent and utilities. We do it to build outstanding character in our students and let them grow as needed and a belt promotion is more of an afterthought to them. In our school yes it is dictated to call the black belts sir or ma'am. However a new white belt gets treated the same as the red belts. All are meant to feel welcome and that is how it should be. It almost seems as though I have gone full circle. I went from a good judoka and freestyle wrestler. However I sucked at High School Sports. I became a multiple time gold medalist in Judo and Greco Roman Wrestling while serving in the Marines. Now, I haven't competed and really don't care to. It is all about passing it down and paying it forward for me. My father taught me the value of sweat equity and what could be achieved if you believed hard enough and trained hard enough. It served me well as a Sergeant in the Marines and is serving me better now. All that from a skinny little kid who was always picked last for kickball. I was always told in school I would never do anything great in life, athletically or otherwise. I never really paid attention and just stayed on the beaten path of my own beating drum. That is the meaning behind the song "Spread Your Wings" by Queen. Now the big question.........who has had or felt similiarly? I would love to hear your story.