I began training in Martial Arts at the age of seven. By the age of 22, I was a 3rd degree black belt in Judo and Karate, and a 1st degree black belt in Aikido. I had become proficient in a number of weapons as well, especially the Japanese Katana. Beginning at the age of 12, my teacher was a man by the name of Frank Goody (1921-1995), who had studied with some of the most legendary Martial Artists of the 20th century, including Kyuzo Mifune, considered by many to be the greatest Judo technician ever, after the founder of Judo himself. I was very close to Mr. Goody, and was his last “kenshusei” (an apprentice student who lives at the school, performs odd jobs for the teacher, and trains full time). Since I was still in high school, I only actually lived at the school during the summer months. During the rest of the year, I lived at home, and attended the evening and weekend classes.
In 1995, Frank Goody passed away, and I foolishly decided that I would honor his memory by never training with another teacher. As time passed, and jobs and kids came into the picture, I managed to convince myself that Martial Arts was something I did at one time, but was no longer my primary passion. This had the added benefit of allowing me to push away painful memories.
Then, when my son turned six, I started to look around for a Martial Arts school that could give him the same positive experience that I had when growing up. I briefly considered putting him into Judo, but was not overly impressed with the quality of the local schools. I had heard about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by this time, and it seemed like it was possibly even better than Judo, or at least no worse. A quick Google search of the area led me to Crazy 88, and I decided that if the school had such a full schedule, and had produced so many champions, it must have good teachers.
Now at the age of 42, enough time had passed, that I decided maybe I should give Martial Arts a try again. It had been 20 years since I had done any serious training. I wasn’t sure if I still had it in me, but I was willing to give it a try. That first night was quite a wake up call. I had not exercised in so long that I could no longer do even ten push-ups! But, stepping onto the mats again after so long away…well, it felt like I was home again. To be honest, I didn’t even care if I never made it past white belt. I resolved to never again quit martial arts, as long as my body holds out. So far, so good.
These past two years at Crazy 88 have transformed me from a 42 year old out-of-shape office worker, who was beginning to feel that the best of life had already passed him by, to a fit and healthy 44 year old Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter, who has a new challenge to conquer. Getting a black belt in BJJ, after having begun training in my 40s, is my personal Mount Everest. For the past two years, I have often wondered whether I was insane to think I could accomplish something like that at my age. But, then something happened, after two years of consistent training, I was awarded my blue belt by Julius Park, who is notoriously strict about who he promotes. If a BJJ black belt is Mount Everest, then I have arrived at base camp one. Maybe, I’m not so crazy after all…