I was taking in some much need couch time the other day after a long work day followed by a tough training session and while I was flipping channels I came across “The Karate Kid” movie. I was feeling a bit nostalgic so I watched it and it got me thinking about what it was like for me when I first started learning martial arts compared to how things are now. I can vividly remember my early days of my martial arts training being so exciting. Anytime I would learn a new “technique,” I felt like I just learned something that was directly passed on to me from ancient martial arts masters. (Yes, I did watch too much Kung Fu theater on Saturdays). It felt amazing and magical and it really helped me believe in myself in a way that nothing else ever had. I was quickly hooked and like most everyone in martial arts, I started competing in karate/grappling tournaments and I placed my value as a martial artist on what tournamet I won or how I fought in class against this person or that person. Those were good times and pretty soon everyone that I spent my time with were martial artist/grapplers (that hasn’t changed very much) and that really had a effect on the man I was becoming.
When I first started over 25 years ago, I was just some kid who was “taking karate lessons” and all I cared about was my next belt or what grappling tournament I won and now I am a man who teaches and trains in the martial arts because is it who I am. These days, I just like training and I don’t care if I get hit or tapped because I just like putting the work in. Why? Because that is what martial artists do and I am lucky enough to have become a true martial artist. The excited feelings that I once felt about technique are now replaced with the joy that I get from seeing my students get excited about learning something new. I enjoy watching them progress and I enjoy spending time training with high level friends and teachers. So, as I look back on those early days, I smile because all those years of training – the bumps, bruises, blood and broken bones have helped me become the man I am today. I am no where near finished learning or growing because the more I have learned, the more I realize the less I know.
So, looking back I must say thank you to all the teachers, instructors, training partners and coaches because you all have shaped my life and I now hope that I can help my students grow into the people they wish to become.
Guro Brian Brown
Atlanta Martial Arts Club