“Joel Andrew Wood! I call you to walk with me in Integrity, Responsibility, and Accountability, and to join me in this community of men!”
There, through a line of tiki torches and a longer gauntlet of whooping, encouraging, cheering men walked my son. For fourteen years I had been his hero. Tonight he would be mine.
As he reached the end of the double line where I was standing, I placed a special necklace around his neck that he has to this day. Then I turned him to face those men and said some of the most powerful words I have ever spoken: “Gentlemen, this is Joel Andrew Wood, my son, in whom I am well pleased.”
I have always lived with the honor of walking in my own father’s unconditional favor – even when he didn’t always approve of my choices. On this night 11 years ago, I had the greater honor of publicly declaring that same kind of blessing over my son.
A Fatherless, Manless Culture
Ours may be the only culture that has no formal point where a boy becomes a man. [click to continue…]
I had never seen a rank test before. What I did see impressed me. And taught me. I know it’s dangerous to talk in layman’s terms about something you don’t fully understand, but I want to tell you what I saw. (No, this picture wasn’t it. I just thought the little fella looked cute.)
For those of you, like me, who have never taken a martial arts class, a rank test is a challenge a student must face in order to receive a higher-ranked belt. White belts challenge for yellow, yellow belts challenge for blue, and so forth. I walked in on a Monday night several years ago to what I assumed was a routine karate class, and found out my kid (age 8 at the time) was being tested. What made it interesting was that he didn’t know it at the time.
Best I can tell, the rank test involved two different parts. First, students had to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of what they had been taught. The different moves and techniques were reviewed over and over under the watchful eye of the master.
Then came The Ring. At least, that’s my name for it. [click to continue…]