Rewind to spring 2018. That’s right, we’ve been so backlogged on content that we’ve had no choice but to sit on this goldmine until now. The trip is booked, we’re all systems go…. but then I get the news: Kyle had to put out some fires for one of his other businesses. Hey, when duty calls you as the business owner are the only one who’s going to show up! We both LOVE entrepreneurship, and we both LOVE martial arts, and sometimes the various forces in life start pulling us in all kinds of different directions. It can get stressful, no doubt. But,
“WHEN YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, ‘WORK’ IS NOT WORK.”
It’s a pleasure, not an obligation. In such a state, most of the stress you encounter is the good kind; The kind that is somewhat uncomfortable at first, but makes you grow in order to get out of the discomfort… Which brings on new discomforts, which bring on new opportunities to grow, and up we go as the cycle continues. It’s actually fascinating to reflect on your past. I bet you can recall a time where you got challenged by something which created an immense amount of stress which made you uncomfortable… and when you REALLY look back, I bet you can also see how that challenging event lead to some other opportunity that only presented itself after you pushed through that challenge. When you are in the trenches actually experiencing the challenge, it “sucks.” It feels like you can’t get ahead. It feels like the world is transpiring against you, and it can be hard to even contemplate how this stressful situation could possibly lead to anything good… But, with the right mindset, the good only becomes clear in the rearview. Once you see how that challenging event actually lead to where you are now, or lead to some other opportunity that doesn’t seem like it’s connected, but it your thread of existence ties absolutely EVERYTHING together. And if you feel like “Well, my situation right now sucks”… remember that you are in the trenches. In order to get out of the trenches, you need to make some changes. To make some changes, you need to grow.
“PROBLEMS CAN EITHER WEAR YOU DOWN, OR MAKE YOU GROW!”
Anyways, beside that rabbit-hole-side-tangent, I was SO EXCITED to check out this legendary annual seminar and retreat. The first time we really heard about it was when we were down in Santa Cruz California visiting with Sifu Singh where we were STRONGLY encouraged to attend.
Everything we had heard from those who attended previous retreats had nothing but amazing things to say about it. Still, it took some consideration because we only get so many vacation days from work. Yes, we both have full time jobs that we love, and we use our vacation days to go hustle!
As the day arrived, I scrambled to get all my gear packed up and prepared for the experience. Kyle graciously offered to drop me off at the airport and…
“IT WAS TIME FOR MY SOLO FILMING MISSION TO BEGIN!”
It’s true, we both SUCK at planning things. But my suckery far exceeds that of kyle’s… So being on my own was unnerving to say the least. Luckily, I was able to navigate everything to get my rental car and hit the road! I didn’t realize that the Pratka Ranch is literally in the middle of nowhere Texas, and Uber was like: “Yeah, we don’t go to them their neck of the woods.” So, rental it was… and shocker, I didn’t reserve anything so all I could do was hope I wasn’t hooped.
Once I got everything sorted out with the rental it was time to hit the road! One thing about rentals is you never really know what the music situation is going to be like. Sometimes you get hooked up with satellite radio, and if you are lucky, a bluetooth connection. This rental had neither, so I was at the mercy of Texas radio and here’s how it turned out:
After entertaining myself for an hour and a half, I decided that I should be responsible and grab a quick bite to eat so I didn’t have to worry about food when I arrive. So, a quick stop at Five Guys is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. After SMASHING a burger, I was well on my way to the middle of nowhere. After a few wrong turns, and the frequent whispering of “Ffffffccccccccccck” with each turn that didn’t seem right, I made finally it. And who was there to greet me? None other than Sifu Clay Pratka!
“THEY JUST GOT BACK FROM RIDING AROUND ON ATV’S SHOOTING SH*T IN TRUE TEXAS FASHION…”
After partaking in what was an EPIC night, I didn’t actually end up getting to bed until around 3:00am as there seemed to be no end in sight in terms of festivities. My rubber arm didn’t help as I’m a sucker for a good time. After a few hours sleep, it was time to get ready for Day-1 of training. I really had no idea what to expect, but I felt like I was pretty prepared.
“I HAD BEEN TRAINING PRETTY HARD UP TO THAT POINT TO MAKE SURE I WOULD BE READY TO SWEAT FOR 8-10HRS/DAY.”
The coolest part about the Pratka ranch is they actually built the entire place by hand, log by log, over a lifetime. Each year they would add something to improve the property. One year they built an ACTUAL saloon and dance hall which is GREAT for training in. It’s super cool because you can actually simulate bar scenes where you make the situation as real as can be!
To start day-1, we warmed up with some amazing stretching and Qigong. Once the body was fully awake, and the booze on one’s breath is less noticeable, we started working on some great drills that eventually lead to the MASS ATTACK. This is were you have multiple attackers and your job is to evade and move to open space without cutting the middle and going in between the attackers. The Mass Attack drill sure gets your blood pumping as it eventually shoots you into the flow state where there is no thought, just movement as time feels like it slows down.
“A TRULY AMAZING TRAINING EXPERIENCE.”
The heat and humidity took some serious getting used to… but, I am a naturally sweaty bastard so I felt right at home in my own soak. Hydration became a major priority! I pretty much ran out of water before lunch and realized that I needed to go stock up on water…. and coconut waters to ward off any hangovers. You see, the anti-hangover key is to CRUSH a full litre of coconut water before going to bed, then smash another upon awaking = bye bye hangover!
The only thing that blew my mind more than the amazing training that was taking place was THE FOOD!! We got to experience authentic Texas BBQ, smoked with naturally occurring mesquite that was picked right from their property. Up to this point I felt like I had experienced a number of “authentic Texas BBQ’s” at various restaurants in my day… But NO! Nothing compares to the real deal, AUTHENTIC TEXAS BBQ!
After crushing some food, we went back and trained for the rest of the afternoon, then again after dinner. We worked on everything from weaponized flow drills to reality based combatives. I learned SO MUCH! And the improvements I was making were very noticeable. Once everything wound down for the evening, it was brought to our attention that there was a traditional initiation ceremony that involved a certain kind of hot sauce. It was called Satan’s Blood (…seems totally reasonable, lol.) And not to worry it is only 800,000 scoville units. For reference, the Pepper Spray that Police use is 530,000 scoville units, so this was definitely on the warm side of hot! As you might imagine, many of us struggled to keep calm:
“I NOW KNOW WHAT ASS-BURNING HELL FEELS LIKE.”
After making it back from Satan’s front steps, it was time to get on with the other more enjoyable festivities. I’d heard they planned a bit of a fireworks show, and my immediate thought was that it would be one of those gas station kits that a bunch of drunk idiots would light one by one all while hopefully not getting burned. But no! They actually hired a PROFESSIONAL FIREWORKS CREW called Pow Pow Pyro that was nothing short of mesmerizing!
“'POW POW PYRO PUT ON AN EPIC SHOW!”
The fun didn’t stop at the fireworks. After the incredible show, we all wandered over to the Saloon for some drinks and a fun game of Roundhouse Jenga - Which, is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of using your hands to strategically remove bricks, you were only allowed to use your kicks. The beers made balancing a little more difficult, and of course I was the one who brought the stack down! But boy is…
“ROUNDHOUSE JENGA IS A GREAT WAY TO TRAIN SENSITIVITY, TARGETING AND FLEXIBILITY.”
Again, probably the hardest part of the trip was getting out of bed after only 4 hrs of sleep! I dreamt of the days where I could sleep for 8 straight hours spooning the shit out of 12 pillows…. But, I wasn’t there to get beauty sleep! I was there to train and have an absolute blast. After shaking off the booze from the night before…
“I NEEDED TO DIG DOWN, DIG DEEP, AND BRING MY A-GAME FOR ANOTHER FULL DAY OF EPIC TRAINING.”
What a FANTASTIC end to a POWERFUL trip! There’s no question, I’m doing it again this year, and after speaking with Sifu Singh, we’d like to you to invite you to join us for the next epic instalment of the Texas JKD Retreat. This April 25th-28th, at the Pratka Ranch down in Texas… IT’S ALL GOING DOWN AGAIN!!! 🙌