For the last 14 years, Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training were the cornerstone of my identity and life. Since my first MMA fight, my personal and professional life revolved around my identity as a martial artist and fighter. The relationships with my professors and training partners shaped my worldview and gave me some of the best friends a person could ask for. Martial arts defined who I was.
Then COVID-19 shut everything down.
Those first dark days of the COVID quarantine forced me to confront reality. In the blink of an eye, the security provided to me by the mats disappeared. My dream of leading a martial arts school, which had seemed within arm’s reach, faded from the foreseeable future. Like most of the world, I found myself trapped in a maze of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
In those moments of confusion I found myself reminiscing about daily struggles I faced on the mat and the lessons I learned from them.
Keep Calm – Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Whether I’m fending off a deep choke or isolated in quarantine, giving into the panic or frustration only makes things worse – I know the only way forward is to remain calm, accept your current position and methodically address your problem.
“This Too Shall Pass”
Life as a martial artist is filled with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Realize and accept that all circumstances, positive or negative are temporary. Enjoy the good times and learn from the tough times.
Finding Strength in Struggle
An old professor once told me, “Pressure bursts pipes. But pressure also creates diamonds.” Growth is attained in the moments right before the breaking point. Sometimes you just have to bite down on your mouthpiece and move forward.
You Aren’t In This Alone
I’ve stood alone in the cage facing my opponent. Relying on my own skill set, risking my physical well-being for a chance at experiencing a brief moment of victory. Although those moments were mine, I never walked into or away from a fight alone. My training partners and professors helped me prepare, walked me to the cage and lifted me up in victory and defeat.
COVID turned my world upside down overnight, pushing me off the mats. It forced me to change my perspective. When I looked at it differently, the maze of fear, uncertainty and doubt suddenly felt familiar. The mats, cage and opponent might be missing, but I recognize a fight when I see one. And after 14 years of preparation, I know how to make it through.
The mental training involved with fight preparation is often overlooked from the outside. We spend so much time focusing on the physical aspect and perfecting technique that we don’t always realize that we need to be able to execute everything that we’ve learned under pressure. After retiring from fighting, my dream shifted from fighting in the UFC to running an academy. And just like preparing for a fight, I knew that even if the preparation was perfect, I’d still have to deal with the outside circumstances. It’s that understanding and skill set that has given me the confidence to step in as the new general manager of Easton Training Center Arvada.
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