Blackbelt Reid Delman, who teaches wrestling class and the MMA class at Easton Boulder, has worked with Easton since the very start, when Amal came to him in 1998 to learn wrestling take-downs.
At the time, Reid was coaching wrestling at Boulder High, and Amal didn’t have a school yet, but he’d just come back from Brazil and had planted the seed.
What Amal had learned while he was in Brazil was very ground-based, and wrestling focused more on the take-down aspect of grappling.
Amal wanted to learn what wrestling could bring to the sport. He had contacted some coaches in the area, and all of them pointed him in Reid’s direction.
“I was open to learning BJJ,” says Reid, “and he [Amal] was open to learning wrestling.”
At the time, most people still didn’t know anything about Jiu Jitsu; compared to the rest of the wrestling coaches out there, Reid was more open to it than anyone else.
“When I started Jiu Jitsu, there really weren’t any takedowns and MMA was the thing,” says Reid. “It was just a few of us in town who kind of made up the MMA as we went along, trying to figure it all out.”
Along with coaching and developing Easton’s wrestling curriculum, in 2003 Reid launched Gemini Adventures, an event management company he co-owns with Kyla Claudell, which hosts running and mountain bike racing events, as well as some backcountry tours.
With the singular goal of helping athletes achieve success, Gemini Adventures carefully orchestrates everything from start to finish, from designing the concept to getting the porta-johns on site day-of.
They build every event from scratch, obtain permits, contact the necessary towns and government entities, and bring everyone together with marketing and community outreach.
With races like Adventure Fest, Desert Rats Festival, Enchanted Forest and Lucky Lyons, Gemini Adventures brings people everywhere from Fruita, Eagle and Lyons, Colorado to Red River, New Mexico.
By drawing together athletes and adventurers, Gemini Adventures has become a space for those who want to challenge themselves and push their limits. People can sign up for events, get training help and gradually build an event community.
Reid first got the idea for Gemini Adventures when he was doing some long-distance, 100-mile running and biking, living in the world of outdoor adventure.
“There was an event in Morocco, a six-day running race through the desert,” says Reid, “that I always wanted to do. I thought well, I could just bring it here to the USA; and it grew from there.”
The first few years were undoubtedly hard with all the moving parts to manage. Reid remembers one race the first year, staying up till 3am the night before with a friend, filling up water jugs in the hotel bathroom, putting them on the elevator and carrying them downstairs.
The business really grew about ten years ago when Reid learned that he didn’t need to do everything himself, that he could reach out for help and delegate to others. Reid brought Kyla on board, and Gemini Adventures really flourished.
These days, they have some pretty big races – like one that grew to around 1,200 people, which Gemini Adventures just sold to Ironman last year.
Pushing limits on every front
Whether it’s on the mats, in business or in life, to Reid, the most gratifying part about pushing your limits is the payoff – getting around or over the obstacles.
“Whether I’m ‘successful’ or not,” he says, “it’s getting past my own personal limits. I’ve had hundred-mile races that I didn’t finish, but still felt good about certain aspects of. When you’re in the low point and then you come out the other side – that’s the payoff.”
While quitting doesn’t always mean failure, during Reid’s first MMA fight, he recounts a moment where he wanted to give up.
“It would’ve been so easy to say, I got in the cage and I did what I came here to do [that’s good enough],” said Reid. “Instead, I kept going and won the fight.”
Looking back on it, he describes recognizing later that he only wanted to win 51 percent – not with everything he had. But that’s the side that won – and he got the payoff because he pushed through that last little bit.
“That final stretch is nothing,” says Reid. “It’s the point when it would be easy to quit but you don’t quit that’s hard.”
Sometimes the limits we need to push are the ones giving us the most trouble: our obstacles.
Whether your obstacles include insecurities, time, habits or information – like Reid in the pre-internet days when he was first learning Jiu Jitsu and adding wrestling techniques into Amal’s curriculum – sometimes you just need to start running, and then you get a plan.
A lot of the time, the hesitation of making a misstep holds us back from even making the first move. Sometimes, the best way to get over that hesitation is just getting up and doing it.
From there, you’ll see for yourself if it’s something you want.
“My way may not be the best way,” says Reid, “but it’s to get out and start doing it. A lot of people come in with a lot of excitement, same as with martial arts and wrestling, and a lot of enthusiasm, but then it dives off.”
If you come in and know what you want, Reid doesn’t believe in burn out. It’s a lack of goals that leads to burn out – swinging frantically in every direction, trying to hit as many as you can without a best plan of attack.
If you know what your goals are, you keep working towards them, putting the time in, and learning as you go, you can create a sustainable martial arts (or any) practice.
Pushing the vision
Despite having started wrestling at age 9 in 1976, Reid calls himself an “untalented athlete.”
For anybody in the sports world, this always carries an unspoken connotation, despite the athlete’s deflection. Usually, this means they’re an absolute beast, as what they may lack in natural skill or coordination they make up threefold in dedication, commitment and drive.
For Reid, this breaks the perception that you have to be good at something to do it – especially with martial arts – which often discourages people from even trying.
“It’s all about repetition,” says Reid. “You have to be open to it, open to the failures, willing to put the time in. With wrestling and BJJ, those repetitions pay off. You can’t help but get better.”
Reid wishes he had gotten into sports even younger as a kid. Luckily, his belief that you learn movement as a small child worked out for his twin daughters. Both girls started sports young and are now college athletes. They also are who Reid named Gemini Adventures after!
Still, no matter what age you’re at, if you have a vision – don’t just sit back and wish for it to happen.
Whatever it is you want to do, make it your mission to get it done – whether that’s starting a company or committing to hit the mats four times a week. No matter what skills, talents and prior experience you come to it with, by making the intentional decision to continue to improve, you will only get better.
If you persistently push yourself forward, this holds true whether it’s your sport, your hobby or your career!