April 4, 2011

20 Years

Thankfully not applicable here!
20 years, two decades... this number can elicit a multitude of feelings depending on the context.  For me it is innocuous.  A marker that will not affect my day one way or another, as I will train and teach today just like most Mondays.  Yet as I reflect on 20 years of training in the martial arts I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Gratitude to the amazing arts that have captivated my spirit since childhood.  Thanks to all those people who have come in and out of my life that have shared their experiences, laughs, blood, sweat, and even a few tears!  Appreciation to all the students who have taught me more than I could ever give them.

I believe it was Isaac Newton who said  "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." It seems silly to speak of accomplishments over the past years as they pale in comparison to the real giants, those whom have inspired me in ways beyond words.


Much love to Sensei Mike Sherman for introducing me to the martial arts.  I trained with Mr. Sherman for 8 years before moving to New Mexico.  He nurtured a love for the martial arts and has remained a staunch supporter of my martial path ever since.  No one better in Toledo, OH.


To be quite frank I am not sure where I would be in the martial realm if I had not met the most influential person in my life, Tim Cartmell.  Tim has been a mentor, friend, coach, and father figure in my life for the past 9 years.  Without a doubt the single most important individual in regards to shaping my martial arts approach both on the learning end, as well as teaching.  The debt I owe Tim can never be repaid in 100 lifetimes.  Thank you my friend.


Moving to Seattle, WA. nearly 5 years ago brought with it a number of unknown variables, one being where I would train grappling at.  Moving to a city that had a number of options, priority one with me was establishing roots at a solid grappling academy.  I had checked a few out on a visit up here and honestly thought I had found my home with a local group.  But about two months after moving here, a friend, Eric, told me I should check out Brian Johnson over at the NW Jiu Jitsu Club (now Academy).  Eric mentioned Brian had much more of a learning atmosphere then where I was at.   


Though I have not spoken to Eric in a few years, again mucho gracias mi amigo as my coach Brian has been the single best thing to happen to me since moving to the Pacific NW!  I have never been pushed as hard, coached as well, nor honestly felt a true love from a coach like I do with Brian.  Not only is his personality a great fit for my learning style, but his methodology and care in teaching mimics Tim's approach and love for teaching!  Why I deserve to be so lucky I do not know, but Brian is one of the best instructors you will ever come across.  And I can honestly say he is my friend too.  That is a rarity now days as I am finding out.  


Thank you to Guro Meynard Ancheta in Long Beach, CA.  Meynard is a brother of mine via Tim, but in the past year he has also been kind enough to submit to my constant nagging to take me on as a student.  He has single handily rekindled my passion for the Filipino arts, and I have become quite enamored with the study of Pekiti Tirsia Kali!


Also I must give a huge debt of gratitude to my teacher Hu Xi Lin, for without him I would not have moved to the Pacific NW at all.  I have been traveling and training with him for the past 9 years as well, and falling in love with Vancouver and being within driving distance was the impetus for us to move to Seattle, WA.  I wish we could get more time together.  "Xie xie ni, laoshi."


Lastly, but certainly not the least I wish to thank my best training partners... my family.  From my mother and father, to my wife, never has their been a weakness in this armor.  Blood is thicker than water, but more importantly love in the form of recognizing, nurturing, and supporting someones passion, has been the single most important attribute my family has given me.  Thank you all.  I love you all more than you know!


So what the hell am I going to accomplish over the next 20 years?  Not sure, but I have a few goals I think I would like to meet:

  • Earn the rank of black belt in BJJ (I am hoping it does not take the full 20 years to attain, but at this rate don't hold your breath!)
  • Positively affect a larger population of people via my teachings of the martial arts
  • Become a world class grappling competitor (okay, maybe world class is shooting for the moon, but as the very least I will become a classy competitor!
  • Continue to learn and progress.
  • Perhaps get to a point where I do not put myself in a triangle.  Perhaps.  If I get around to it.
  • Become proficient in Pekiti Tirsia Kali
  • Help a student full-fill their true, full potential!
  • If my ticket is due to be punched in such a time frame, then all I can ask is that I die living!

I think those are some reasonable goals for two more decades.  I have no clue where I would be without martial arts training.  It has saved my life in more ways then I care to share on a public blog, and those are just the internal struggles I speak of.  

Enjoy your Monday, and be grateful for something today.

Ma halo,
Jake 

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