Recently I had my first fight. Like a real fight. Like two guys in the ring duking it out. Yeah, it was as crazy as that sounded.

I’m 39, run my own freelancer business, I’m a part-time stay-at-home dad (with four kids), enrolled in seminary for my master’s degree, and decided to train, and fight. What was I thinking???

I started this journey because I felt, looked, and let’s be honest, was fat/overweight/chubby.

A few reasons:

  • Lose weight
  • Bucket list
  • Show my kiddos that dad still has “it”
  • See if I could actually do something this big

Well, I fought. I ended up losing a decision. I was proud of my effort. Some things I’d do differently. But, overall, happy with how things turned out.

As I’ve had time to reflect I realized there are some parenting lessons I learned throughout my fight journey. Here are my top 7.

Getting Healthy (Physically) Will Help You Holistically

When I started my fight journey it was all about my physical health. What I quickly realized is that as I got in physical shape my emotional shape improved. My work productivity improved. I had hope. I wasn’t as quick to anger. My relationship with my spouse, my kids, my friends improved. I woke up earlier and more refreshed. Getting healthy physically has an overflowing effect on your whole life.

Lose the Battle But Win The War

When you’re in the ring with someone else chances are you’re going to get hit. It’s called “taking a punch/kick/knee/elbow/whatever”. The first time I was ever punched it was … awkward, to say the least. But you realize that your ok, you didn’t die after one punch. Fighters who freak out after getting punched don’t usually fair well in the ring. We practiced over and over the art of the counterpunch. A counterpunch is a response when you get hit. Your opponent throws a cross, you counterpunch with a kick.

In an exchange of punches, you may not get the best of your opponent. That’s ok. You may have lost that battle, but you can still win the war. How this translates to parenting is that you are going to lose many, many, many, battles with your kids. That’s ok. Make sure you win the war. And the war is raising life-ready kids.

Don’t Overhype The Fight

My fight training was 7-months long. I was scared/anxious for my fight for the entire 7-months. It wasn’t until the night of the fight that I looked my trainer in the eye and said “I’m not scared anymore”. I had built up that moment so much in my head that I overhyped it. It kept me up at night.

We fear the unknown. I had never been in a fight before. This was new territory.

With kids there are a lot of unknowns. How will they behave in public? Will they like me? Will I suck as a dad? As much as you can don’t worry about these things. Focus on the moment. If you screw up make sure to do the next right thing. Kids are resilient. They understand more than you think. Don’t overhype parenting. None of us have it figured out and that is the beauty of it.

The Real Opponent Is You

My opponent’s name is Martin Perez. We talked after the fight and he is a dad just like me. The guy that was trying to knock me out just a few minutes before was actually a really nice dude. We laughed, hugged, and went our separate ways.

What I realized after my fight is that Martin Perez wasn’t my real opponent throughout my fight journey. The real opponent was me. Did I have what it takes to get to the gym? To make weight? To eat healthy? To actually do this.

Your kids are not the enemy. What bugs me the most about my kids are traits that I need to work on myself. Kids are an opportunity for you to be better. Better moms. Better dads. Better humans. When you realize that it changes the parenting game.

Oversimplify Everything

In the 7-months of training we learned a lot of fighting combos. When we would spar my mind would go blank. I had so many combos in my head that I couldn’t pull up the right one when it mattered.

I asked my trainer to simplify my combos. We narrowed it down to three basic combos. We then practiced those three combos over and over and over. The next time I sparred I could easily bring those combos up. And in my fight I could hear my trainer call for those combos. Simplifying my fight plan actually game me more tools.

With kids it’s the same way. There are a lot of parenting books/courses/methods out there. Everyone has an opinion. Focus on the simply. What works with your kids? Do that. Over and over and over.

The Power of Team

At my gym we have a fight team. It’s a group of men and women that train/fight together. We push each other to be better. We hold each other accountable to get to training. To make weight. And we’re there when each other fight. Cheering each other on.

Don’t do parenting alone. I have a group of dads I meet with each week to laugh/cry/share life together. I need these guys and they need me. Find a group. Use, or a local church. Neighbors, whoever. Make sure you have a group of people that you can go to when times are good, and when times are bad.

Define Your Win

If I would judge my fight “win” based upon the actual results my journey would be a loss (because I lost the fight). But setting out on this journey my ultimate win wasn’t just to win the fight. It was:

  • Get in shape
  • Motivate others to get in shape
  • Show my kids that dad still has “it”
  • Win the fight
  • Prove to myself that I can complete big goals

With parenting it’s important to understand what your win is. For me it may just be to get my boys to stop peeing on the toilet seat. Sure there are other things I want them to do but for right now I’m focused on that. And also teaching them that it’s not just about the pee but it’s about respect. Respecting the others in our household.


I learned a lot during my fight journey. What I’m made of. It’s great that these lessons could be applied to my business, my marriage, and ultimately my parenting.