I remember the moment vividly. Justin Daman, an eight-year-old boy I had met through his parents, was crying, and telling his father about being bullied outside.
Justin was a real good kid. Kind, considerate, compassionate — if he lacked anything at all it was maybe an overall sense of confidence. Soon after that bullying incident Justin’s father enrolled him in a martial arts program at Bae’s Martial Arts Training Centre, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Justin really took to the sport, and it didn’t take long for him to impress Master Malcolm Edwards with his dedication and attention to detail.
"Justin did everything you asked him to do. He gave it everything he had, every single time," Edwards says.
By the time he was 14, Justin had achieved black belt level. He competed in and won numerous awards and tournaments. He was a part of Team Canada for five years and, between the ages of 15 and 17, he was ranked No. 1 in Canada in the discipline of Korean Kata.
Justin now is a third-degree black belt and an instructor at Bae’s.
"The learning of discipline and respect," is what Justin loves most about martial arts, he says."Watching the growth of the students. Seeing a six-year-old walk in holding their mom or dad’s hand and then becoming a national champion, it’s amazing," he says.
"At first, most come in scared or immature but down the line watching them mature, gain confidence, and become disciplined is truly remarkable to observe."
I have watched Justin evolve from a young boy into a young man and the transformation has been incredible. The confidence he has acquired though his primary sport is truly beautiful — it isn’t brash or loud.
Justin is a young man with the type of confidence we should all aim for, for ourselves and for our children. It’s based in great humility, which is truly the strongest and most important type of self-assurance one can possess.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood is co-host of The Big Show, every weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. on TSN 1290 radio. He writes about Winnipeg’s unsung sports heroes every other week in the Canstar Community News weeklies.