Here we are at the end of 2019, and I am as most people at this time of year in a state of reflection. In many ways 2019 has reminded me of the reasons I love martial arts training so very much. Training in martial arts is inherently enjoyable. Kicking, punching, sparring, grappling, and sweating in every class is one of the most fun activities that I’ve ever experienced. However, we all know that the benefits of martial arts training extend far beyond the mat.

This year has been for me very much like a UFC fight. Imagine if you will a fighter who has trained for years for this moment. His training has been intense sharpening his skills to take on whatever he will encounter in the cage. He has intensely studied his opponent looking for tendencies that can be taken advantage of during the fight. He has warmed up for hours preparing his body and mind for the upcoming battle. While nervous he feels no fear. He is prepared for whatever awaits him. He climbs into the octagon and hears the roar of the crowd chanting his name, cheering, booing, eagerly anticipating watching him go to battle. Mere minutes before combat he feels the most alive. At this moment he feels prepared and optimistically looks forward to whatever lies before him.

Now lets skip ahead 30 minutes to the end of the fight. We don’t know if our fighter was victorious. It matters not. He’s been hit. He’s been kicked. He’s exerted himself far beyond what a normal body is willing to endure. His heart is still pounding. He’s sweating. He’s bleeding. Swelling and bruising is becoming more evident by the minute. Years of training and months of preparation have given him little more than a deep feeling of satisfaction. He feels accomplished, proud of the fact that he has done something that few others would ever even contemplate let alone attempt.  It is this moment that he lives for.   

That’s where I am as I write this piece. 2019 has been a year of extremes for my family and I. This time last year my family and I were excited about the upcoming year. We were finishing up a successful 2018 that left us feeling accomplished and prepared. When the year began it presented us with great opportunities for success. We experienced our most successful year in business ever. We enrolled new students, hired new staff, established new relationships with vendors and other industry professionals. Our efforts were recognized by those in our organization and by other martial artists nationwide. We travelled more than ever. We experienced more enjoyment than ever. It was an amazing year!

However, we also got hit. We got bloodied. A circle of close friends decided they didn’t need me any more. There was no communication, no discussion, no reason why. One day we were laughing and loving life together and the next I was cut off and alone. Additionally my marriage was strained and nearly broken.  We spent nights apart. We discussed the pros and cons of ending it altogether. All of this combined to lead me into depression for the first time in my life. I am generally the biggest optimist on the planet, but for the first time I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Financial mistakes of the past came back to haunt us. We replaced two HVAC units and a van. The hits just kept coming.

I am writing this not to get a pat on the back and most definitely not to get sympathy. Everyone experiences success and failure. I am not unique. My purpose is two-fold. First, for me personally I wish to leave the difficulties of 2019 here. They are behind me. I am beyond them. Second, as I said at the beginning I am reminded of the reasons I love martial arts training so much. Training in martial arts teaches you to take what comes at you, both positive and negative, and to persevere, to continue toward your goal. It teaches you to see things as they are. You learn to analyze what is working and what is not and make adjustments on the fly that will help you find more success. You learn that those times you are successful must be enjoyed and celebrated to their fullest. Martial arts will also knock you on your ass very literally and teaches you to keep getting back up until the fight is over. You become physically strong, but more importantly you become mentally tough and very resilient. Martial arts training prepares you for life. What more could you want for yourself and your children?

I am thankful for my training. I am grateful to all of my instructors, mentors, and real friends who have supported me and nurtured me. I am so very thankful for my wife who has seen me at my best and worst and continues to love me unconditionally. I am excited and optimistic for the continued growth of our martial arts school. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. I hope each and every one of you who held on to the end of this blog has a blessed and prosperous 2020 filled with love and laughter.