The  Midnight  Rider

 

            This is a tale of a little martial artist named Carrie Anne. She is a little eight year old girl whose confidence level and self esteem is very low. Carrie Anne Is about to enter her first competition, and like many other young girls her age, she is very nervous. Her instructor has been working very hard with her on how to use deep breathing exercises, and to also form positive mental images to overcome her fears. She is trying very hard, but this is not an easy thing to do, especially for such a little girl.

 

            Carrie Anne has such a vivid imagination that it sometimes worries her parents. Many times she would blow her fears out of proportion, and tend to make them worst then what they really are. Her Sensei would always tell the little martial artist to calm down, take a deep breath, relax, and to just do her best. The object is to let her training take over and to have fun when performing her kata. Carrie Anne often, thought “easy said, but not easy to do. Still, I will try my best anyway.” Sensei tells Carrie Anne when all else fails, to take a strong ready stance, fists held out in front at stomach level, close her eyes, and calmly say to her fears, “Go away.”

 

            Well, the big day finally arrives. It’s tournament time. Carrie Anne arrives early, signs in and is assigned a ring. When she walks into the school gym she observes how huge it seems and that it is filled with hundreds of spectators. As she sits in her ring Carrie Anne notices how much bigger and stronger the other girls seem to be. Immediately, the old fears start again, “What if I mess up? I don’t want to let my Sensei or my parents down. I really don’t think I can do this in front of this large crowd. I should have practiced more. I just want to go home.” Carrie Anne sees in the ring next to her a little girl is crying because she was awarded fourth place and receives a medal instead of a large trophy, which makes her even more nervous.

 

            Then she hears her name being called, as it is her turn to compete. Carrie Anne stands up, approaches the judges, bows in, takes her ready stance, and freezes. Her eyes are closed tightly. Then it happens again, that strong imagination of hers begins to take over. She is standing in the middle of a path in the deep dark woods, the time is around midnight. She sees an image that strikes terror in her heart. It is a thing clothed in a black cape and hood, mounted on a coal black horse. The air around her is damp and cold. Suddenly, he charges down the path straight toward Carrie Anne. In his right hand he is flashing a large jagged sword, his eyes are like bolts of lightning. Carrie Anne tries to remember what Sensei taught her, and says to the evil rider, “I am not afraid of you.” The terrible rider raises his horse high over her head, his front hoofs flashing wildly in the air. The dark rider raises his sword over his head, ready to strike. At this moment Carrie Anne can see the words “fear” emblazoned on his chest. In a loud, thunderous voice he shouts “you cannot talk to me that way, for I am the powerful midnight rider of fear.”

 

            As the sword comes crashing down, Carrie Anne tightens her ready stance, clenches her fists, takes a deep breath, and softly says “go away.” Suddenly, there is quiet, and a different picture enters her mind. She is surrounded by a warm spring morning. The sun is shinning brightly, flowers are blooming and birds are singing. Down the path she sees another rider slowing approaching her, dressed in white, riding a golden stallion. The rider looks like a beautiful princess, perched on a sparkling silver saddle. She says to Carrie Anne, “my name is confidence, and I will be with you always, for you have defeated the midnight rider of fear. Just call on me and I will be there.”

 

            Now, another voice is calling her name, Carrie Anne, Carrie Anne, are you ready to do your kata? Carrie Anne opens her eyes and looks for the voice. It is the center judge who gives her a gentle smile. “Yes ma’am”, she says. Carrie Anne performs her kata flawlessly and wins a trophy. Sensei and her family are very proud of her. She conquered her fears, she did her best, and she has a trophy to remind her that she has defeated the midnight rider of fear.

 

                                    Soke

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