This is a Chinese legend that has inspired the hearts of many fighters throughout centuries past.

Many years ago, in a time before recorded history, there was a huge school of koi that swam in the Yellow River. The colors of their muscular bodies shone in the sunlight, like a million living jewels.

Everything went well until the fish encountered a waterfall. Many of them became frightened; they thought that it would be easier to flow with the current of the river and not to risk their beautiful scales by trying to climb the cliff. Finally, a group of only 360 koi was left, ready to confront this unknown waterfall and reach the summit. Jumping with all of their might, each koi attempted to get to the top of the waterfall. Once and again, their bodies flew into the air only to crash once more against the frigid waters.

All of this commotion got the attention of some demons, who laughed cruelly to see the futile fight of the would-be climbing koi. Adding to the school’s misery, the sadistic demons used magic to make the waterfall even taller. Despite this, the koi continued to be brave. Without becoming discouraged the koi redoubled their efforts little by little, until 100 years had passed by. Finally, with a heroic jump, one small koi reached the top of the waterfall. The spirit of the sky smiled with approval and transformed the exhausted koi into a brilliant golden dragon.

He passed his days happily, seeking pearls of wisdom throughout the vast and eternal heavens. Since then, whenever other koi find the strength and courage to jump over the waterfall, you can see it converted into another celestial dragon. This waterfall nowadays is known as the Dragon’s Gate, and, due to their persistence and perseverance, the koi fish has come to be a symbol of overcoming obstacles and of reaching one’s destiny.

Just like this brave fish, converted into a radiant dragon, which found the strength in itself to reach its goals, we should all recognize our capacity to forge our own destinies. Our payment will be the happiness that comes with wisdom.

This is the lesson that I have learned by heart. Being a survivor of kidney disease, I have faced an adversary that eats up the hopes of weaker fish and throws them back downstream. The koi, and its glorious dragon form, are tattooed on my back to remind me that only those who know how to fight and to persevere deserve to fully enjoy life.