What really matters… and it’s not digital

When I was six, I was a likable chatty little chap, with appalling co-ordination. This gave my grandfather, who was a retired GP, a bright idea. To improve my co-ordination, why not have me start a hobby that would entirely rely on it…

So, one Friday in 1987, I was taken by Grandpa down to the local scout hall and took part in my first karate lesson. And I was awful. I mean REALLY record-breakingly bad. However, every Friday like clock-work, I would be taken along and fall over my own feet. Then, as I got better, I would go to classes every Tuesday too. Then as I got even better (and my big feet and long arms and legs discovered the natural advantages they had in a fighting sport), I started attending England Karate Squad training on Sundays too.

My teacher – Sensei Ian – was a hero to me, and so when I left the local area to head off to Loughborough University, it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to man that had helped me overcome my obvious co-ordination problems to become a self-assured fighter. Always a slow and determined fighter, mind you, rather than a quick, light, mercurial one, but nevertheless, rather different from the woefully mal-coordinated raw material who walked in with his Grandpa in ’87.

So when I re-entered my karate club a decade later, holding my step-son’s hand, I was extremely excited. My wife says that when I met my old Sensei again, it is the first time she has seen me quite so deferential to anyone. I can confirm my heart was beating against my ribcage like a drum.

Since then my boy, William, has had a few months of lessons, and according to my instructor was “a lot better than you were, because it least he was able to walk in a straight line”. Which is true. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see most of William’s lessons, because they happen in the early evening, before I am back from work.

But tonight, I walked into my house to be greeted as usual, by my dog’s licks, my wife’s hugs and, to my amazement, William with a big medal around his neck. The very same medal I had tried so hard in karate classes to win when I was his age. He had won the “best in class” medal and he is over the moon – and so am I. Never did I imagine when I was getting splinters on an old scout hall floor, getting shouted at by a charismatic Sensei, that one day I’d have a stepson, or that he’d experience the same pleasure I did from it.

Like we all have, this is one of those nights, when you realise there are a lot more meaningful things than what you generally get excited and witter on about on blogs or Twitter…such as digital PR. You simply can’t measure the ROI on being able to say “a chip off the old block”.


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