When a new customer walks through the door the first two questions we ask are: How did you hear about us, and why did you decide to try martial arts? The second answer always determines how the rest of the conversation will go. A common answer is that it looked cool or they wanted to try a different workout. No matter what the reasoning, martial arts provides solace to those who train. From white belt to black belt, I spoke to a number of Easton students and asked them why they decided to train in martial arts.
After his very first Jiu Jitsu class Kevin Carpenter stated, “I think it’s a skill everyone should learn, it’s a lifelong pursuit and we live in a society where people want instant gratification and this doesn’t teach you that.” They say it takes about ten years to become a black belt. During that time patience is challenged. Professor Jeff Ake speaks about his journey:
“At first I trained for a competitive outlet, which ultimately I think was a vehicle to feed my ego. Over time, this fades once you hit a period of prolonged losing. Then I trained because I found that the skills learned on the mat, once applied to my life outside the academy, were helping me find success and fulfillment in life. Jiu Jitsu teaches you how to learn, persevere, and simply keep showing up even when you don’t want to. These days, I train because of the people. Where else can you encounter such a diverse population of people from so many walks of life all sharing a common goal and bond?”
For some people, simply showing up can make all the difference. Muay Thai Green Shirt Maggie Stacey laughed as she told me that her sister talked her into getting a kickboxing Groupon, and she stuck with her training after the Groupon ended, although her sister promptly quit. Sky Gillman, a two-stripe white belt in BJJ, admitted that she had two hours to kill and that trying a free class sounded like a good way to kill the time. Whatever the reason, they got through the door, put on some gear, and tried something new.
Then something starts to happen. Meaning attaches to the experience and passion ensues. Muay Thai Green Shirt Mike Pike states, “Every martial art has strengths and it is up to the person to find those strengths. That’s one reason why I keep practicing Muay Thai, because there is a unique strength in the style.” These strengths can sometimes derive from weaknesses. For instance, I train Jiu Jitsu because I know that fighting is one of my weaknesses. Then passion begins to latch on to my experience, and with every class I take I feel closer to my own personal goal. Like Professor Jeff said, we all share a common goal and bond.
For Jiu Jitsu, that goal is to become a black belt, and for Muay Thai that goal is to become a black shirt. For others, the self defense aspect of martial arts becomes the reason why they step through the door. Four-stripe white belt Taryn Martin states, “I started doing it mainly because of self defense. I knew that Jiu Jitsu is good for self defense. I travel alone a lot and wanted to learn something I could rely on.” Martial arts are a great way to defend oneself, however, that’s not the reason why Taryn decided to center her life around Jiu Jitsu. Now Taryn works at Easton Arvada as the hospitality manager. If she never decided to start training Jiu Jitsu, where would she be now? Where would Jeff, Mike, Maggie and Sky be? Where would I be? Thankfully, we don’t have to ponder the “what if’s” in life. We found martial arts, and that has steered us in the direction we now live. No matter what your why is, you have found what you have been needing, and that is all that matters.
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