My wife,Sempai Lilly, is a picker. Besides buying and selling vintage and retro items, she also finds specific items for people who want to forego the search themselves and simply find someone who,s in- the -know as to where specific items can be found. As of this writing, her research tells her that old trophies are now "in" and highly marketable. They have to be old ones, mind you, with plenty of patina and, most importantly, an interesting history.
With that inside information, I've promptly dug out the only few trophies left that I won personally, and am in the process of tightening loose, rusty nuts , polishing them up, and letting them see the light of day for the first time in many years.
It's really pretty strange. With every little rub of windex and rag, I can recall exactly where that tournament was, who I fought, and details of that day that should've been forgotten long ago. And in my vintage way of thinking, I get more gratification out of these hunks of wood, metal and plastic now than I did the day I won them .So, no thrift stores or yard sales for these babies!
My mind shifts gears and I have to start wondering about that multitude of competitors who, over the years, never made it home with any mementos of their labors- not even a participant ribbon. And then, what about those instructors who, for whatever reason, didn't feel the need to compete or simply believe that competition has no relevance to their own students' development in the concepts of the martial arts?
So let me interject this thought: the greatest trophies aren't the ones with cheap faux wood and that perpetually side-kicking guy on top anyway. Don't let anyone convince you your value as a martial artist is determined by how many trophies you've brought home. For instructors, in fact, for ANY person willing to pour themselves into any human being, the greatest trophy is that person whose life would never have been the same had you not taken the time. Time to correct a stance, push a little harder, pat a back, wipe a tear, check a report card, speak truth in love-you get the point. As kyokushin stylists, we should lead the pack in creating a balance in people's lives that might otherwise never see their self-worth come to the surface. And chances are, you've been someone's trophy- hopefully, you still are.
No one is not NOT worth pouring into. Whether it's for first, second, or third, helping that kid overcome his stutter, or getting that burned-out old guy to rise up out of the ashes of his past, someone, EVERYONE, needs to know they're not a mistake. Let the world see your trophies. May their light shine.
Shihan Ellis Weber
Founder and Senior instructor
Eaglewings Kyokushin karate