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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts


Posted: April 30, 2014

I love winning. Everybody does. But you can’t always be the winner. Still, you can often learn from the experience.

Back when I was younger, I traveled quite a bit to sparring competitions. While I had my share of first place victories, more often than not, I took second.

Some of those losses were due to mistakes, and even chance. But sometimes, they just had my number. I have to say, even I was impressed with some of the ways they beat me.

One year, I made it to the finals at Disney World in Orlando, FL. It was only the second time in 15 years that I ever made it to the finals at a national event.

This time, we were about even when WHAM, out of nowhere a spinning heel kick blasted through my guard. It knocked my right hand down, broke my nose, and cracked my cheekbone in two places. Now that was a nice kick!

At that point I couldn’t really stand up, so I just sat down right there in the ring. Obviously, I couldn’t continue, but I didn’t want to say I quit. So when the referee asked me, I simply said, “I resign.” Smooth answer.

A few years later, after I’d taken some first responder training, I realized I’d probably experienced my body going into shock. Significant injuries can do that sometimes.

A good friend drove our rental car to the hospital where they said “Yep, it’s broken!” They gave me antibiotics for the ensuing infection, from a plane ride home with an open sinus cavity. They also referred me to a specialist to see if surgery would be required. Yikes.

Fortunately, my nose wasn’t bent quite enough to require re-breaking. And the specialist said the two cracks in my cheekbone would heal on their own. While one side of my face was pretty numb for a couple of years, it really could have been worse.

For years, friends would kid me about getting a “Reuben sandwich.” That was the guy’s name, and we even became friends later, although we never competed together again.

The next year, they made face protection mandatory at all national events. Later, they extended it to regional tournaments, and finally to all sparring at the local levels too.

I was told my face actually “helped launch a thousand face shields.” All these years later, it’s probably tens of thousands of kids’ parents who don’t have dental surgery to worry about. Now that’s a win for everyone!

This week’s Biggest Losers were Christy Henry, who lost another 6.8 lbs and 3.1% of her body weight. Brian Bradley placed second, losing 6.2 lbs and 2.4%. Matt Murphy was third, losing 5.0 lbs and 1.5%, and Pam Kelly finished fourth, losing 3.4 lbs and 1.4%. Of course, I think they all were winners!