The following is a true story – the year is 1990
The contestants lined up and waited for the tournament director to bow them in. Men and women in perfectly pressed karate gis anxiously awaited for the chance to showcase their martial art skills. Doug Garrison was among the group of 400 karatakas gathered in Chicago, Illinois, for the 3rd Annual Open Styles Karate Invitational Championships. The Chicago Industrial Center Complex had graciously offered to host the tournament for the second year in a row, and Doug marveled at how great the stadium looked. It was his first year competing in the black belt division. He was nervous and uncertain of himself, but very determined to give it his all. Lord, please give the strength to overcome my nerves.
The introductions of special guests and the national anthem completed, the competitors were asked to report to their assigned squared off locations and check in with the ring judges. Doug noticed a lot of the same people in his ring that he had competed against in the lower belt divisions. Some were his friends, some not, but at least he had some idea of what kinds of kicks, punches, and foot sweeps were coming his way. He was competing first in forms, long series of choreographed martial art movements, and then sparring in the middleweight division. He actually thought his chances of winning both events were quite high. His confidence was beginning to grow. Lord, I think I can do this!
Doug’s form was right on the money and he took first place in the first stage of the competition. He set the trophy off to the side of the ring and began psyching himself up for sparring. He stretched all of his muscles and practiced his best moves while sneaking a peak at the competition practicing their techniques. Lord, please guide me to a win without injuring myself or anyone I’m fighting today.
The punches and kicks were swift and many. Doug blocked, countered, attacked, defended, paced himself, and in what seemed like a Hollywood movie, finished off every one of his adversaries in dramatic fashion. In the end, the center judge raised Doug’s hand in victory. The crowd cheered for him and he smiled a big thank you to them. He shook hands with all the judges and raised his four-foot trophy in the air.
“You going for the six-foot trophy?” one of his previous opponents asked Doug.
“Six-foot trophy?” he replied.
“Yeah, the lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight are allowed to battle in a round-robin tournament to see who the best black belt here is.”
“Well, I never even knew about…”
“What do you have to lose, and it will be a really good experience to compete against Billy Blanks.”
“Who is Billy Blanks?” Doug asked.
“Are you kidding me? You don’t know who Billy Blanks is? Man, he’s the best black belt in the Midwest, dude. You’ll gain all kind of knowledge in the ring with him.”
Twenty minutes after finding out who Billy Blanks was, Doug found himself squaring off against the famous karataka. As soon as the fight started Doug knew he had made a big mistake. The kicks and punches came at Doug with such speed and accuracy that every block he threw only deflected half of the blow. Billy Blanks was too fast and too skilled for Doug.
“Hmph!” Doug coughed out as a kick landed to his midsection. He was sure his insides had all been crushed by this heavyweight who he had no business being in the ring with. The crowd cheered every time another point was scored on Doug, eventually drowning out the “Hmphs!” that kept escaping his lips.
Then it happened. One kick landed to the side of Doug’s head with such velocity that he actually saw stars. The fight was over. Doug had lost to the better man. He had a headache that actually lasted a few days, but he had a story to tell his friends and relatives for many years to come; he got his butt kicked by the now famous creator of the Tae Bo workout. And he learned not to jump into things without researching exactly what he was getting into. It was one of life’s many lessons to come Doug’s way. Trust me on this…I’m Doug.
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