Stand up

Stand up

The favourite toy of my daughter is “Miffy” the rabbit.

Miffy likes to draw and play with her friends.

My daughter loves to draw and play with her friends.

Did you have a special toy when you were growing up?

Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and guests

I still remember that day in my primary school.

I was 6 years old and I was excited.

Excited, because it was the day we could take our favourite toy with us.

My favourite toy was “Steve” the monkey.

Steve had been part of me for many an adventure. In my imagination we had slept on roads, flown on airplanes and sailed on ships. Where this is an adventure, there is a villain!

The villain in this story was Big Sid. Big Sid was a bully. Not an ordinary bully, a toy stealing bully!

One day, Big Sid grabbed Steve. I pulled. He pulled. I let go. I did not want Steve to get hurt.

I was angry! Steve was my toy. I felt it was my duty to protect him.

How do I stand up to him? You see, Big Sid was two heads taller than me.

Nobody else in the school dared to stand up to Sid the Bully.

I mustered up some courage. I walked up to Big Sid, fear in my eyes, my teeth chattering and my legs shaking and squeaked “Please give Steve back to me”

Sid glared at me, looked at me like I was a fly and flicked me.

I flew and landed on my behind!

I did not know what to do.

Fast forward to the present.

My daughter who likes “Miffy” the rabbit also likes to fight. She attends a martial arts school for Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. We went to Chemnitz in the East of Germany for a contest.

My daughter and two of her white belt friends were in category A.

3 girls from a gym in Berlin turned up for category A.

These girls had braided hair and stared into space.

Friend 1 in Category A.

Braided hair girl wins the game with an arm bar in 45 seconds.

Friend 1 walks back with a visibly hurting arm.

Friend 2 in Category A.

Space staring girl wins the game with a rear naked choke.

Friend 2 walks back massaging her neck.

I look down at my daughter and her eyes are glazing. She does not want to fight. She does stand a chance against these braided and space staring fighters. I can see a teardrop forming in her eyes, rolling down her cheek and falling down.

My daughter’s coach walks up to her and holds her two hands and says the following.

  • It does not matter if the opponent is stronger.
  • It matters that you stand up to this opponent.

These words fire up my daughter and she walks up to the ring and faces her opponent.

My daughter in Category A!

The fight is over in 15 seconds with a triangle choke. My daughter walks back with a smile on her face. She lost the fight.

But on that day she stood up to her opponent and that has made all the difference.

Rewind to my primary school.

You remember Big Sid who had stolen my monkey Steve and also flicked me.

My music teacher Mr. Patrick had watched this exchange between me and Big Sid. He sat next to me and said

“In life, you and me. We face bullies. We face opponents who are stronger than us. But we can overcome the fear and stand up to them. He realized that I was too small to stand up by myself. So he added wisely – you can stand up with the help of your friends”

I looked up at Mr. Patrick and the realization dawned on me.

I asked a friend to help me. He knew how important Steve was to me. He convinced some friends and they gathered around me and stood up with me facing Big Sid.

And for the first time, I saw fear in the eyes of Big Sid.

Big Sid knew that the game was over and handed back Steve to me.

My daughter’s Jujitsu coach asked her to stand up to her opponent.

My music teacher Mr. Patrick asked me to stand up to my opponent with the help of my friends.

I encourage each and every one of you to

stand up for yourself

stand up for your friends

and stand up for those you love.