As a child, Shiloh was often teased and ridiculed by her peers, not unlike many people in this world. After years of this, she became fed up and decided that she had experienced enough of this torment and would learn karate to defend herself.
After all, she knew that if she stood up for herself then all the bullies would leave her alone. Upon learning this, Shiloh’s mom brought her to the local community center for lessons, but those were no match for her spirit, and Shiloh excelled so quickly she needed more formal training.
A few years went by, and at the young age of eleven and after some serious physical training that would level most adults, Shiloh earned her first degree black belt at a local martial arts school. Her parents were proud; after all, their daughter had accomplished more in her first eleven years than many accomplish in entire lifetimes… or even multiple lifetimes for that matter.
Still, there are some people who believe that an eleven year old is too young to understand the depths of martial arts. Not only are eleven year olds typically immature emotionally, but they also have not had ample opportunity for spiritual development. That’s what society says, at least.
Shiloh was different.
Through her training, Shiloh learned to become at peace with her life. She no longer took insults personally, and her physical and mental bodies were so finely tuned that Shiloh managed to avoid physical confrontation even in the most unlikely of times. If anybody exemplified the best of humanity, it was found in this quiet and soft-spoken eleven year old girl.
Continuing her vigorous training, Shiloh earned her second degree black belt a few years later. Somewhere along the way, she had taken a liking to forms competition. These competitions were a lot like the figure skating people watch on television: personally choreographed routines carefully and consciously synchronized to music.
It was in these competitive arenas where Shiloh truly felt alive. There was nothing like being in the ‘Zone’ as many athletes call it. The Zone is a unique place where nothing exists except the present moment. There is no future… there is no possibility of ‘messing up’… and there is no past…. no remembrance of how one got there.
Although winning was the defined goal, Shiloh didn’t compete for the fame of first place; she competed for the passion. In the local arena, she was a big fish. A big fish in a little pond, mind you, but still a big fish. Even then, Shiloh knew something wasn’t quite right and her fourteen year old spirit was unsettled. It was only a matter of time before she came to understand why.
Shiloh’s instructor had taught her well; he had taught her to succeed under all conditions no matter how adverse. He taught her that limits only exist in her mind and that her spirit would guide her to heights unimaginable. In learning these lessons and impressing them upon the greatest depths of her soul, Shiloh knew that her instructor had taken her as far as he could.
Realizing her future was elsewhere, Shiloh made the very difficult decision to seek out another instructor. She now sought the best of the best. In fact, in her heart she knew the best wasn’t good enough. She needed a champion who could train her to be a champion.
After some investigation, she found a mid-twenties Irishman, Carroll, who had the skills to take her to the top. He was a five time world champion. No longer was being a big fish in a little pond satisfying Shiloh’s spirit, and thus, Carroll agreed to train her, despite her limiting beliefs.
You see, when they first met, Carroll asked Shiloh, “What is your goal?” She responded quickly and passionately, “To be National Champion!” Quite a lofty goal, indeed, particularly for somebody her age.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Carroll solemnly responded, which infused Shiloh with immense confusion. “How could National Champion be a bad thing?” she thought. She didn’t just think it, she asked it and Carroll responded with an even more solemn, yet incomprehensibly inspiring statement:
“Because you could be World Champion.”
With that, Shiloh knew she had found the perfect trainer, and her training was intense. Four hours per day, six days per week, practicing her techniques and routines with her trainer providing constant feedback, motivation, and insight. Still, that was only when they worked together. In addition to the technical part of her training, she also ran several miles per week.
Then came her first competition. Well, first real competition because all the ones prior were, if you remember, in the little pond. Now she was a little fish in a big pond, and it felt surprisingly good. It was also a rude awakening when she didn’t even place for a trophy.
Still, she was not discouraged. She felt the greatness in her that was forcing itself out, and she knew there was no holding back her spirit. Shiloh videotaped all of her fellow competitors in order to emulate their best attributes as a complement to her own unique talents.
Then came the first National tournament of the season, and Carroll was nervous on her behalf. You see, Shiloh had been having difficulty with her routine. Even with all of her training, the reality was that these routines were like doing a constant sprint at your highest speed, and to date, Shiloh had not yet fully completed her routine in practice. Carroll didn’t care if Shiloh won a trophy, in fact, all he honestly asked for was that she finish her routine completely for the first time.
His wish was granted, and when all was said and done she walked away with a second place trophy. Needless to say, she and Carroll were ecstatic! In just a few short months of intense training, Shiloh went from being a big fish in a little pond, to being a big fish in a big pond.
Throughout the season, Shiloh continued to compete in more local and National tournaments, all the while continuing to videotape her competitors. Day after day, she improved herself and kept reaching that next level.
At the young age of just fifteen, Shiloh had accomplished her goal of becoming the United States National Champion. In fact, she accomplished it during her rookie year, which is something that until then, nobody had ever done before. It was not over, though.
Next up was the final tournament of the season, the World Championships. Shiloh continued to train hard and fast, and when it was her turn to compete she stood in the ring with perfect poise and confidence. She knew her routine like the back of her hand, so well in fact, she could perform it with her eyes closed. And for a moment there, she even contemplated doing so…
Instead, she started moving with the grace of a swan combined with the speed of lightning and the precision of a finely tuned machine. Her competitors were awestruck, the judges amazed, her peers a little frightful, and Carroll a little bit confused.
You see, when Shiloh started moving she stopped thinking. She was immersed in the presence so deeply, that at one point her body performed techniques that she hadn’t choreographed, and for that matter, she’d never even done before!
If the judges knew of her ‘mistake,’ she knew she wouldn’t even place in the competition. Of course, only her and Carroll knew what had happened afterwards because she continued her routine as though it were intended that way to begin with. When she finished, there was a stunned silence.
Those watching knew that they had witnessed something beautiful, and they knew that no amount of clapping or praise could say what was said by the silence of the entire auditorium immersed in presence together. It was obvious Shiloh would win, and when the judges showed their final scores, the truth was revealed.
She had tied for first.
In the case of a tie, both competitors must perform their routine again in a sudden death showdown. After the showdown, instead of rating the competitors by score, the judges would make one single motion: an arm extended towards the victor. There were five judges, so it would require a majority vote of at least three to emerge as World Champion.
Moments later, Shiloh stepped up to the judges and did something unprecedented. She calmly bowed her head and conceded the win to the young man standing to her side. For everyone in the room, this very humbling gesture brought forth some element of a vast array of emotions such as joy, confusion, and pride.
When Shiloh was asked why she would give up the one thing she always wanted, that ultimate goal of becoming World Champion, she responded with her characteristic serenity and grace: “I came here to give my best, and I did.”
Shiloh never competed again.
These short spiritual stories were written by Chris Cade in hopes of entertaining and enlightening people through imagination and challenging the way each of us perceives the world. Learn more about him at http://www.ChrisCade.com