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.
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.
I have been having loads of discussions with my students lately before class. One topic that has come up repeatedly, is the question,
“How do I define what I do?”
For a long time, I would simply reply, “I am a martial arts coach.” But increasingly I feel this term doesn’t fully encapsulate what I am about (now), and where I intend to go in the future, or even for that matter what I really feel is the ultimate utility of the expression to begin with.
If one could go back to the dawn of modern man one would be struck by two perennial truths. In the one sense humans would seek to propagate and continue the species, and secondly there would be a need to survive. Building off that need to survive would be the leveraging of both self, and environment as means to seek personal, and collective (i.e., family, tribe) protection.
It is hard for many of us to imagine this, especially those of us who live in the relative safety and ease of the modern world. But for our ancestors, life was unimaginably harsh, filled with danger, both real and imagined. It’s not surprising then, that earliest man sought to find the best possible ways, including strategies and tactics to defend himself, and those he cared deeply about (or simply other people he needed to help him fight off the dangers he could not survive alone),
I am a career martial artist. I am not just a hobbyist. Maybe because of this, because I have lived, slept and dreamed martial arts since I was 6-years old — my reflections on it, may be very different to most. Martial arts not only has been my preoccupation, the center of my life, but equally supported my family through making a living off something I love. I owe martial arts so much. I am not sure, had I not been so keen on martial arts, and finding a way to make it my bread and butter, how my life would have turned out for me (not so good I am certain). While I have a great education behind me now, and I have expanded my ‘expertise’ beyond the world of martial arts, for a very long time, martial arts is all I had. And I am very grateful for it.