There is a quotation by Carl Jung that states “the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” I think this is much like when an individual encounters training in martial arts. If they take to training at all, they will be transformed.
I think everyone needs some device or venture that will allow them to release accumulated stress and exorcise their demons. Some hobbies or sports can do this for people, but many are lacking the completeness of a mind/body connection. I believe that’s the difference with martial arts, for me anyway. Training for me got me past some dark times, and remains a necessity in my life, recalibrating me when life gets chaotic or imbalanced. And of all the arts I train and have trained, Jiu-Jitsu does this for me best.
I struggled with depression as a kid, mostly due to my parent’s divorce and watching my mother involved in an abusive relationship for years after. The depression reached its peak when my sister was killed in a car wreck in the summer of 1991. Seeing how lost and hopeless I was, a friend invited me to come to his Tae Kwon Do class with him. I had always been interested in martial arts growing up and really enjoyed the class. I signed up and began training nearly every day.
It wasn’t as much that I loved Tae Kwon Do as much as I was enamored with martial culture, philosophy and principles. And when I met Jason Hawkins, I truly began my martial arts journey, leaving TKD and beginning Ju-Jutsu, Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Muay Thai, Silat, Judo, Aikido and Tai Chi. I trained every day, shifting the emphasis periodically, but having a truly immersive experience. We traveled to seminars, camps and training facilities that we could find. No YouTube. No online courses. Very few video or written resources for several years.
It was around this time that the first Ultimate Fighting Championship took place and the martial arts world was dramatically introduced to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Because my teacher had a Ju-Jutsu background and I was almost to my black belt in that art by then as well, we recognized the importance for us to learn about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. We began attending seminars, class and camps when we could find them, following Royce Gracie around the nation, and eventually becoming an association of the Gracie Academy.
Fast forward to today, I am still with Professor Jason Hawkins, we are both 2nd degree black belts in Jiu-Jitsu under Royce Gracie, I still train in other arts but not to the degree I do Jiu-Jitsu. I teach group classes and private lessons daily, as well as travel frequently for seminars and filming of video resources for DVDs and online with my YouTube channel, KnightJiuJitsu. It’s an amazing way to earn a living.
I still have the scars of my past and some others I picked up along the way. I’ve also had a lot of joy, too. Training in martial arts hasn’t cured me of any of the pain of the past, but it has helped me to achieve more emotional balance. I understand how to handle and understand so many aspects of life that I’m certain I couldn’t understand without the metaphorical lens that training has provided me with. I’m grateful for every opportunity, every lesson and every adversity I’ve experienced along the way.