Sensei Thad Campbell head instructor of TSMMA Feasterville has shared an inspirational story with us on his own blog @ www.feastervillemma.com. This is a story worthy for everyone to see.
“It’s been seven years since Anthony began training in MMA. The Holland, Pennsylvania four year old had been diagnosed with Autism. His mom wanted something to help him with his balance, coordination, muscle tone, focus and confidence. In the intervening seven years it has been a long and winding road for him. At many points during the journey Anthony has plateau’d and wanted to quit. He has been through the Challenge of Champions many times, both winning and losing matches in both kickboxing and grappling. In his last effort at C.O.C. Anthony was put in a headlock and thrown to the ground. It not only caused a fair amount of pain, but a greater amount of fear.
The self-conciousness of his reaction combined with the fear of a recurrence not only led to him vowing to never go to C.O.C. again but also led to resistance in simply going to his classes. On two occasions during the last seven years the anxiety of going to class and facing his own fears has proven to be too much for Anthony and he has taken a short break from his training. Always after a couple months he and mom realize that the benefits of training far outweigh the fear and anxiety it sometimes causes. It so happens that Anthony also happens to be my son.
Every time a parent comes to me and says Sensei, my child doesn’t want to train anymore I don’t want to force them, I know exactly what they are feeling. However, I do force Anthony (with the incredible support of my wife). It is my job as a parent (and Sensei) to do what is right for my son! Fear and anxiety will never determine whether or not he succeeds at something in his life. As a parent I can never allow that to happen to my son! We will always be there for him should he get injured or be scared. Those things go away quickly, the pain of quitting lasts forever.
Lately as Anthony has started to mature we have been talking a lot to him about the benefits of class. One of them is physical conditioning. As an 11 year old boy he has started to become more aware of the shape he is in. Starting out with low muscle tone to begin with it has been a struggle for him. It was with great pleasure that I picked him up from camp a week ago and he said to me, “Sensei I was wondering something. . . . “ Now usually this leads to a question about a new game he wants to get for his Xbox. Not this time, however, instead he asked if he could start taking two classes when he comes in every day instead of just one. He figured that would help him get in even better shape!
I am sharing this story as a way of encouraging every parent to be more stubborn than their children. It took us seven years before our son understood Self-Discipline. I have talked to him about it every day during those seven years. By no means do I think that this new attitude will last forever. What will last forever is my determination to stick by what I think is right for my child! At eleven years old I don’t believe he should have the ability make important choices for himself, he is simply not aware of all the different ramifications of any choice he makes. So I help him understand why we as parents make those choices for him. It is his choice to either do those things with a positive or negative attitude. Ultimately he knows it will not affect me one way or the other.
A week after asking if he could start taking two classes he once again got in the car after camp and told me he was wondering something. This time it was if he could go to Challenge of Champions again. I almost drove off the road for a second time in a week. My eleven year old son was truly facing his fears. No small thing for any child, let alone one with autism. Being a High-Brown Belt he would be facing a division at the tournament that included Black Belts. I let him know this to see if he still wanted to make the same decision. Without pause he said yes he still wanted to compete. I don’t know if he will win or lose, but I know my boy is a winner simply because of the choices he is starting to make. And I know that at the tournament I will be there to give him a huge hug and kiss the minute he’s done, win or lose!
Sensei Thad Campbell
Tiger Schulmanns Feasterville”