March 19, 2006. Jackson went to his first USSJA tournament yesterday in Wytheville, Virginia. We are so proud of him and of all his fellow Mount Airy Martial Arts students. They all competed so well and with so much heart. Amy and I couldn't believe how emotional and dramatic it was. We were exhausted by the time we left, so I can't imagine how tired the kids were. Karate is something Jackson wanted to do on his own, Amy and I know nothing about it, so it was a learning experience for all of us. Believe it or not, I don't have any action shots or footage of Jackson because I couldn't hold the camera steady. I finally just set it down. Jackson took three kicks during the first round of his first match that were hard enough to knock him backwards. He sprung back each time, but when they broke between rounds you could see that he was tired and hurting. His face was white, he was crying and holding his stomach. His coach during the break, Ernie Boggs, the US Sport Jujitsu team coach, a four time hall of famer and past world champion, calmed him down and gave him advice for the second half. As an adult competitor from New York later put it, Jackson is "definitely a second rounder." He wiped off his tears and came back in a fury during the second round, scoring enough points to win the overall match. He continued to compete with so much heart, fighting in two more matches, back to back, and we were terribly proud of him. He was so tired and came up just shy of a trophy, placing fourth. I think he did fantastic for his first tournament ever. And it goes without saying that we were absolute wrecks watching him out there fighting.
The crowd from home cheered so loud for Jackson that we wanted to stay and return the favor by cheering for the rest of the team. Like I said, we were so surprised at the amount of drama and emotion that took place in competition after competition. Ben finally couldn't take anymore and we had to call it a day. At one point during Jackson's match Ben yelled "Stttttooooooopppppp!!!!!" to the cheering crowd. When the round ended and everyone was finally quiet, Ben looked up at the stands and said "I tell evewybody STOP." My sister, who made the trip along with my mom and dad, has photos on her website too.