How many people do you know that have been dedicated to something for more than three decades? Hell, most marriages don’t even last a year these days. But that is how long I have been involved in martial arts in one shape or form. Clearly my role in martial arts has little to do with getting rich, because if that was the case, I chose the wrong profession. No, and as I have noted elsewhere martial arts is an integral part of my life, for many reasons, but most importantly because the experience on the mat has helped me work through a lot of trauma from my childhood. In other words, money or not, I would do it anyway.
For a very long time, in fact not even that long ago, I was embarrassed to tell my story. I preferred for people to see me as I am now, and to not know the backstory. Over the past few years I have opened up more about my life’s story. Partly because people keep asking, partly because I have needed to heal, and partly because, it is that very story that has led me where I am today. While there is much of my life’s story I have shared, there are still some chapters I am still unable to share because of deep pain, and embarrassment — but who knows in time, with enough inner work, that will change as well.
Working towards becoming successful at anything is difficult. If it wasn’t, it likely wouldn’t be worth the time and energy. But, no matter how desperately you want to be successful in any endeavour, it is clear that the path isn’t always simply laid out straight in front of you.
One of the (unconscious) attractions to jiu-jitsu is that it offers anyone the opportunity to experience flow. I say it is ‘unconscious’ for two reasons. Firstly I don’t think people intentionally go to jiu-jitsu to find flow. Most people go to jiu-jitsu to learn a martial skill, as a vehicle to help them get in shape, an opportunity to breakout from the mundane of life, to be personally challenged, and because it looks like a load of fun (which it is). In the process of doing all of this they accidentally (but not always) stumble upon the flow experience.
More than a decade ago I was obsessed with functionality in my martial arts training. Part of this was driven by the real necessity to know how to fight to survive, and part was driven my childhood trauma. I abandoned everything else martial arts had to offer me, in search for the truth in hand to hand combat. Through those years of testing, experimenting and fighting — I believe I succeeded in finding a method that works in almost all interpersonal aggressive encounters. I proved it out on the streets, outside the doors of nightclubs as a bouncer, in the ring, and on my mat in thousands of rounds of all out sparring.