My Identity

The evening of November 29, 2017 was like most typical evenings.  Rush home from work and get my kids to Jiu-Jitsu.  And it being a Wednesday, I also had to fulfill my commitments of coaching the little kids.  But once kids class was over, it was my time.  Time for some adult therapy on the mats.  At the conclusion of class, it was time for the usual fan fare.  Our professor orating the upcoming events, mini-sermons and recognizing others accomplishments...but before I complete the rest of the story, climb aboard my Tartus and take a trip back into time with me.  Into my world before Jiu Jitsu.

My childhood was not optimal, as was the case for a lot of other people.  Without delving into a laundry list of pains, my life around me was filled with alcohol, drugs, poverty, abuse, single parenthood and mental illness.   In addition was the constant bouncing around to new schools, places to live and new states as home.  Finally a small sense of normalcy began to set in as I came to rest in a community in west Tulsa County.  However all the uncertainty and lack of stability had an impact on me. Thankfully though, prior to starting my High School years I started to hang out with what I would consider "normal people".  And along the way I found a surrogate father figure and other men as mentors.  But even though I had all this positive influence, I still never felt like I had an identity of my own.  Eventually I graduated High School and did what society expected me to do and that was get a job.  Over the next decade or so and in no particular order I had a failed marriage, bounced from job to job and just completely oblivious of what I wanted out of life.  During this time my bitterness grew, my cynicism multiplied and trust was non-existent. But time passed and I found an awesome wife, completed a college degree, found myself being a police officer and also working in corporate America making a very good wage.  Yet even with all these successes I still carried around bitterness, cynicism and trust issues.

Then one day I found myself here at Triton Fight Center.  I was really here for my boys.  I wanted them to be better humans than I.  And somehow I instinctively knew this place was for them.  But yet I sat and watched from the big square portal and went home every evening carrying the same set of baggage.  Bitterness, cynicism and lack of trust.  Then out of the blue frequent coaxing began from The Professor.  He was coaxing me to get out on to the mats.  I'll be honest I acquiesced but had no intent on staying.  And for the first six months or so, I looked for excuses in not continuing.  But the funny thing is, I also started to listen to what my Professor had to say.  I also started to listen to others on the mat and over time I had the desire and want to be here.  I started to believe in the mantra of "check your ego at the door".  I started to welcome the criticism of my rolling.  I started to embrace the suck and use it as a learning experience.  And over time I started opening up to people, making connections and getting involved in this community.  I started to help in the needs of others at our school and even finding a place to serve in the little kids.  I had found my identity!

So now as the Tartus returns back to the evening of November 29, 2017 I sat on the back row and once again listened to the oratory of our Professor.  It was a rather lengthy one as I recall.  He was outlining his criteria for promotion.  But I'll be honest, that night I truly was whipped for lack of rest from the previous I didn't hear all of the sermon.  I also noticed the blue belt in his hand as he was speaking, so I knew someone was getting a promotion.  And I sat there wondering, who of the people I knew up for promotion would be getting a blue belt.  Some had been working really hard on the sidelines, others who were young and full of talent had won some iron at recent tournaments.  People I felt who were more deserving than I.  So it came as a complete shock, when my Professor called out my name.  Instantly a ton of emotion came welling up inside of me.  It was so powerful I didn't know how to vent it properly.  I just found myself shaking and in complete shock as my Professor tied that blue belt around my waist.  And as I received my certificate, gave a brief testimony of my own and went to sit down on the blue belt line, I said to one of my team mates..."I don't know how to wear this".

The truth of the matter is, I wasn't concerned about the color of belt holding up my gi.  Now don't take that as false humility, because absolutely I wanted to move up in the ranks.  But I also knew my style and I learned by doing and sometimes it takes a while for me.  I've always been the successful tortoise, in the tortoise and hare scenario.  So I knew it would eventually come in a matter of time. I knew that if I chased the belt, I'd loose out on the benefits of Jiu Jitsu.  I'm also aware that I'm entering the lions den and there are no free passes.  And that my ego will be challenged more than ever as both white and all colors above blue go full out.  That over the next several years it's about finessing technique, creating strategies and coaching those under me in rank.

So the updated me, which has evolved over the last couple of years is really the result of others pouring out of themselves into me.  People like Brad, Chris, Mark, Sponge, FryRye, Robert, Daniel, Damon, Justin, Joe, Amy, Mo, Shaun, James, Jordon, Doug, Prof. Jake, Prof. Kelly, Prof. Venn, Wes and a whole host of others.

But most importantly the updated me is directly the doing of  the Professor of all Professors...Piet Wilhelm.  You could have let me continue in being the observing parent but instead you decided to change a whole family by encouraging me to hit the mats.  And to that I'm eternally grateful.

Finally to my wife...Thank You...There is more goodness yet to come as the results of Jiu Jitsu.

And my departing thought is this...."Jesus saves souls but Jiu Jitsu saves lifes"

Peace, Love & Chokes,

Will h.


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