At 5 I told my father I wanted to learn to box like Rocky. My dad one weekend had rented the first four Rocky movies and after that I was hooked. He would slap box with me and teach me one-two's or he would hang a towel over his treadmill and have me combo it like a heavy bag.
I saw Creed yesterday on Thanksgiving and it made me reminisce on the movies that started it all for me. Every punch I have thrown started from watching the Rocky movies.
Rocky is about a man who made himself into "taking his best shot" for his life, and not giving it any less than his whole soul. So it prompted me to bear mine.
I, not long after, started scouring for other movies like Rocky. I found Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Bloodsport, Karate Kid, and Kickboxer. I mimicked what I saw relentlessly. After months of not letting up my dad sought out a gym for me.
At the time where I lived in Southern Oregon we had NO boxing gym (a very sad testament to not enough boxing gyms in this country).
BUT...what we did have was a Karate-do dojo.
A traditional Okinawan style called Shito-Ryu.
Tony had a thick build, lightning fast, but moved gently. I was mesmerized by his skill; it looked like the kind a superhero should have. Along with Tony I met Sensei Rumi. Sensei Rumi was an exchange student from Japan who lived with Sensei Del; Sensei Rumi was younger than Tony but still older than me and she was every bit as skillful as Sensei Tony. I remember never experiencing someone with the focus she had; her Kata was inspiring to say the least. I yearned to earn these qualities they possessed.
This began my journey into the martial arts and in physical culture.
Seen above is Eugen Sandow, historic strongman, and my Coach - Scott Sonnon - to the right, Comparing traditional methods of physical culture to the now...
Since then my life, as with all us, was tattered with change.
From family, to schools, to my own development as a person. I became a martial arts nerd. I loved all things martial combat. I had a book and computer program that had martial arts from around the world. I loved learning about all of them.
I saw a movie called Baki the Grappler and it inspired me to compete in Karate which lead to amazing life experiences. Life changes us all. I grew up and experienced and tried other martial arts too.
I moved around a lot and I never spent more than 2 years at one school. My parents owned a restaurant in Southern Oregon so I hung around all different types of people and oddly enough that made it hard to maintain friends with kids my own age. My interest were always outside the collective interest of those in my generation. I once told my third grade teacher that Dean Martin was my favorite singer. It was true he was, but compared to the other kid's answers she got a good chuckle out of it. So between my eclectic experiences and my martial obsessions I was an odd kid.
Throughout my life since that first day in a dojo martial arts has been the only true constant in my life.
No matter what I did or what I went through I always loved martial arts and it's training and principles of life. I always joked that the martial arts and physical culture was like my religion. That no matter what I did or how I changed as I trained the positive reverberations from my martial practice bled into all parts of my life. The more I trained the better person I became. I slept better, ate better, thought better, learned better, I was BETTER.
As I stare down the barrel of my past and I look upon all my own dark days I can always recount the stains of my short-comings and see a common thread...whenever my life was hardest or I was at my most stupid; I WAS NOT training.
My martial practice and the martial approach to physical culture became the cornerstone, it seemed, of my being.
My biggest experiences or strides as a person came when I made breakthroughs in training.
At one point when I was about 19 (in one of my dark times) I had two trips to the hospital caused by low blood sugar induced anxiety attacks. These caused my muscles to cramp from an overload of carbon dioxide in the blood. It was the two scariest times of my life as my body betrayed me and the ignorance of what was going on. They had to cut off my clothes and give me muscle relaxers and I could do nothing but sit there in fear.
After a year searching for answers one endocrinologist finally concluded to me that it seemed my conditioned stemmed from not taking care of myself nutritionally and physically and from that crossed over into my mental health as well. As I did not train my body, and I did not fuel it properly it became victim to the anxieties a weak mind and immune system becomes afflicted by. The doctor said that my body was healthy I just was not treating it right.
And so this experience set me on a path back to training and regaining my control over my body. I later on discovered, through the work of my coach Scott Sonnon, that I am a mechno-receptive learner; that I understand body language more than I understand words at times, that as I move better I exist better.
Coach's amazing Ted Talk on styles of learning.
Before this I found myself back at the altar of a Karate-Do dojo.
This time it was a full contact system called Koei Kan Karate Do in Santa Barbara California.
The same dojo the Chuck Liddell the MMA fighter started as a kid. I began under the eye of one of the best teachers I would ever have and would make an impact that drew the man out of me - Sensei Tony Becerra.
Through Koei Kan Karate I regained my health and I regained sense of finding purpose in life. On top of this the Koei Kan dojo never pandered to insecurities. The years I spent training with that dojo became formative for me to me - even when I fought against it.
Thank you, Sensei Becerra, Sensei Barry, and Sensei Figueroa - truly and deeply...OSU!
Of course life is a series of waves. I again faced a time that took me away from my rituals of training and found myself lost in my own mirror again.
I lost my movement.
I found myself in Seattle for a year. Again away from my rituals and not at my best, but I discovered how to learn once again. I found Coach Scott's Ted Talk on suppressing genius and learning styles and it inspired me to start learning again.
I returned to Ventura California again. I started training regularly again but this time I found Coach Sonnon's TACFIT/CST methods. I then, 9 months later, returned to Washington to certify with Scott Sonnon and since realized that the ritual of physical culture is what my life's calling is.
It has been the one constant in my life that I truly excel in. The one thing that boomerangs back is training and I decided to dedicate myself in sharing the movement mirror that showed me the best version of the person I could be. I wish to be able share that feeling with anyone I can.
I since found I have a love for teaching and coaching. For seeing people, like my student Hannah (see my last post), who are hustling for their goals and fostering their ambitions.
On December 1st I will begin my training to return to Washington again in March to attempt to certify in, the parent method of TACFIT, Scott Sonnon's Circular Strength Training (CST) system. I cannot help but recount what has brought me to where I am and why.
My life is best when I am training. I have found something I believe in and that is through the physical discipline we can become better people at the core of our being. Through TACFIT/CST I have found a martial art of a fitness system that addresses living these principles. Become the best version of ourselves and recovering from the distractions life throws at us to stray us from the path of living to our full potential.
This is my goal in life. This is my calling.
I ignored it for along time and it brought me grief and misery. We should not ignore our natures that inspire us to inspire others.
As Charlie Chaplin said in his speech in his movie The Great Dictator,
"We all want to help one another, human beings are like that; we want to live by each other's happiness not by each other's misery."