The REAL Black Belt Life

I was talking to Chad about the last twenty years of he and I running around, humping the mats from place to place, setting them up in arranged spaces. And when those spaces fell through, humping them out in a borrowed truck to the next location, and then the next . . . It was always just us. He and I, martial arts beggars, the “Vladimir and Estragon” of the Martial Arts underworld!

At one point an employee of the now defunct gym chain we were operating under stole my mats and we had to go across town to recover them. He was an MMA fan and was hoping to start some kind of program (without us of course!). It astounded me how fast that happened. Some fan who never worked out with us, who never poked his head in. He never rolled with us or shook our hands. He just took our gear and assumed that was how you build a Martial Arts club. He did apologize, and his confusion was valid (one gym closes another opens!).

Jason (of Ladd’s Karate where we train regularly **thank you, Jason**) and I talk frequently about the bills, and the small rewards for this life-long passion of hustling the martial arts for folks. Why do we do it? We do it for the people. When there are people, well, then we can train! So sure it’s a selfish cause. When the people get better, we get better! When the sinks drip, and the toilets are blocked, and fire inspectors come and hit us (hundreds of dollars) for using an extension cord, and there’s a sudden jump in the rent because it snowed and the landlords tack that plow cost on to the rent (surprise!) there’s little in the way of prestige, satisfaction of accomplishment or a savings account. What there is is a shrug and some rock and roll, and a mat to play on. Screw it, let’s train.

IF you are doing this for your personal gain, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re doing this for your ego, then you better enjoy paying bills you can’t afford and using plumber’s helpers. If you think a lifetime of martial arts skills somehow equates to you being a gym hero (despite all your cool instagram photos), or that those perceived heroics are going to gild your soul with miraculous fruits of achieving Nirvana, you can just reach for the mop and confer with Mr. Clean.

In the end, we do this for fun and for sharing that fun. Sharing skills is an ancient and sacred human craft. We do it because we must.

This is what passion looks like.

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