Warriors Come Out to Play

I grew up playing sports, soccer, baseball, football, wrestling, and mainly basketball. I always wanted to be a professional basketball player. My Mom shared the passion for basketball, she helped feed the fire and direct me. She always left it up to me on how much I practiced on my own, but sometimes reminded me when I was lazy there was probably another kid out there working hard and getting better. I loved the competition of Basketball and almost always seemed to play the best when the odds were stacked against me. One of my childhood coaches, coach Mike, used to tell me to go out and get the first blood. Getting the first blood is asserting your dominance before your opponent can get going. Sometimes I would get the first blood and score a basket, sometimes I would have to regroup after a failed first attempt.

I ended up getting a college scholarship to play at a Junior College in Wyoming, wasn’t quite the Duke or Michigan that I dreamed of but an opportunity none the less. I played two season and had a pretty underwhelming college career. I dealt with the “failure” of not having the college or professional career that I had dreamed with but a little piece of that warrior inside me died. At first I blamed the lack of fit in the system I played in, which probably played a role. I also blamed that lack of freakish athleticism, which probably played a role, but look at Chris Mullin it’s still possible to succeed. Now I look back and blame two things; 1. I could have worked harder 2. I let the warrior die inside that stopped me from competing to be better than the more athletic players around me.

Post College Basketball left a huge void in my life, I had no way of feeding that warrior inside of me. I masked the need to feed that warrior by partying, not a healthy alternative. My co-worker, Ray Elbe, at the time brought me to a little MMA Gym in Phoenix. Every elbow that landed on my face that first day fed the warrior inside. Soon I was hooked with the fierce competition and constant trials from within. I was complete again.

Now this is not the end of the story, I have had several setbacks throughout the more than a decade of training. At times I was injured and couldn’t train, as a result those times made me a frustrated and struggling person. It’s crazy how much the need grew to feed the warrior inside, it seems that the more that I trained the hungrier the warrior became. Have you found what feeds your warrior? Does the warrior inside die if you don’t feed it?

Last weekend we brought a team out to Long Beach to compete in the IBJJF Worlds. I’m proud of my team, we went out there and fought hard and learned a lot. One of the warriors on the team was my wife. She took on girls half her age and looked great. If you had watched her, you wouldn’t have known that she hasn’t been able to sleep great for years because of shoulder injuries that make it impossible to get comfortable. Now she faces a possible surgery that will put her out of training for a few months. The warrior is great in that one, she has already started with the struggling mindset of not being able to train. This is something that all Jiu Jitsu players will deal with during the course of a career. Here’s the challenge find something that feeds the warrior while you are out of training and find a way to improve when you can’t be on the mat.

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