We Believe In You

It took me fifteen years to get my black belt in Sun Hang Do Martial Arts. Some people do it in four but apparently I am a slow learner. That and the fact that I took a ‘break’ for ten years. I had been only a few months from my black belt exam when my life fell apart. Soon after I rebroke my knee, and because of the state of mind I was in, didn’t think I could come back. For ten years I avoided people I knew at Sun Hang Do and lived with regret. Getting a black belt was something I had dreamed of since I was nine or ten years of age.

A dream that had died.

A few years ago, however, I ran into an old friend and martial arts master, Dave Kinney, who encouraged me to try again. Coming back was difficult, humiliating, and more physically demanding than I would have believed.

But I am a stubborn person.

Last May, fighting off two weeks of Mononucleosis, I showed up for the infamous black belt test. As the eight-hour test was about to start, Dave’s brother, and another amazing guy, Brian Kinney, came up to me and said he wanted to help me have a good day. He opened his wallet and produced a business card with a dime taped to it – a memento of a talk I had given during another black belt test twelve years earlier.

A memento that he has kept in his wallet all these years. Another brilliant martial artist and friend, Kumar Bandyo, still has his as well.

Sometimes it is easy to wonder if you make a difference in this world. The martial art I take part in is dedicated to changing the world. That morning Brian reminded me that anyone, even me, can make a difference.
Brian is the third member of Sun Hang Do that has told me he still had his dime, and the only one to produce it. Thanks Brian, that really touched me.

Here is the story I used, not my own, so many years ago. After telling it I handed out a business card with the dime taped to it, the Sun Hang Do Logo on the front, and the words, “we believe in you.”

In 1965 the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers was a guy named Bart Starr. He was a great football player but more importantly, he was a great dad.

He had a son, his namesake, Bart Jr. Every time Bart Jr. brought home a paper from school with good marks, or did well in life his dad would write him a note that said something like, “Son, I really believe in you. I’m proud of what you’re doing. Keep going, I love you, Dad.” And then he’d take the dime and scotch tape it on a piece of paper. That dime to his son began to be a symbol to him of his dad really believing in him.

One weekend the Packers went to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, and Bart Starr played the worst game of his entire career. He was intercepted three times, literally lost the game for his team. He flew back to Green Bay, got off the plane and went home, totally deflated and feeling down.

He walked into his bedroom that night and on the dresser was a note from his son. It said, “Dad I really believe in you. I’m proud of what you’re doing. Keep going, I love you….. Bart. And taped to the note ….. was a dime.

When you feel like you are losing and no one cares, when you wonder if you can make it; it’s good to know someone is cheering you on.

Here’s your dime.

Dime Bar

12 thoughts on “We Believe In You

  1. Thanks, I needed that. Plus, I had just opened a March of Dimes solicitation letter with a dime included. I wrote myself the note and taped the dime to it!!

  2. I love this blog. Sometimes, in our society, it can seem awkward to be someone’s cheerleader, almost as though we’re supposed to take others’ accomplishments for granted, and not call attention to the trails and tribulations we all go through. I had been a fit person all my life, but about five and a half years ago, partially due to some medicine I take, I ballooned up to 318 lbs (I’m 6’3″). I’ve now lost 90 lbs, taken up tennis as a sport I played in high school, and have returned to grad school to get an MFA in creative writing at Northwestern Univ. in Chicago. I myself try to be my own cheerleader, and try not to take for granted the things I’ve accomplished in the past few years.

    It gets harder as we age to turn things around, but I guess that makes success all that more meaningful.

    1. I was raised in a society that t0ld us that any self promotion or self congratulations is arrogance so as a result we tended to associate humility with self deprecating humor etc. I can’t help but wonder if he would be a great deal healthier if we were encouraged more. Most arrogant people I have met are insecure and therefore over self promote. So many of us tend to believe that humility means that we have to put ourselves down, usually in humor.

      Thanks for the insight. You’ve done amazingly well, considering what you had to do. Be encouraged, you rock.

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