Panda Jiu-jitsu

Photo of Milford Sound in New Zealand!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Everybody has a plan, until...

I have always been the guy with a plan. I took pride in always being ready. But can anyone genuinely say they are ready for anything that life throws at them?

Mike Tyson said it best:  
 "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

Here was my plan: earn my degree, save up and see the world. I had a 7am-3pm job that let me do online school and train jiu-jitsu 6 days a week. I took that privilege for granted and then wham! Life throws me an overhand right - just like what Roy Nelson does best and it knocked me down. I lost the job that supported my education and my jiu-jitsu.

Since then I doubted myself and how I made decisions. I promised people I'd take care of them. I've always been quick to say, with an air of arrogance, that "I got this." When life's almighty fist connected - splitting my lips and breaking my nose, I asked myself "How can I take care of them if I can't even take care of myself?"

Then began my stages of grief. When you look at a panda, don't you just wonder why it looks so calm? I was the same way - people couldn't read me past the jokes, the laughter, and the smiles. Little do people in my circles know: this panda's fighting to regain control of his life. I was fighting to not let my self succumb to the acceptance of being worthless.

I wallowed in self-pity for weeks - more so after acquiring a meager job. I asked myself if this was all that I will ever amount to. Thankfully this new job supports my jiu-jitsu. At the brink of emotional implosion I heeded the help of others. I'm usually the person always ready with a funny story, but sharing this chapter of my life was different. It required every ounce of courage I had left. My family and friends have given me great advice on how to deal with my problems. One advice that I'll never forget was from someone very unexpected.

Definitely keeping this saved in my phone. Ivan sent me 
this message a day after flying out of Vegas.

I met Ivan through the r/bjj subredit. He posted a thread asking about legit places to train while on vacation in Vegas with his partner. I invited him over to train at my academy and I was very glad he accepted. Finally, I got to meet someone from r/bjj and not be limited to the confines of the internet. He was a great training partner in the few days he was with us at Cascao BJJ. Ivan left his native Brazil to pursue a new life in the Big Apple. You would think that being Brazilian, he'd have been practicing the art for years. However he's only been in it for one.

On their last day in town and right after Saturday open mat, I took him and his partner to lunch and we shared our individual stories. Over scrumptious plates of food and a soothing pitcher of sangria: we conversed like friends catching after being away for so long. All three of us had one thing in common: we were immigrants to the USA. We left our comfort zones at home to venture out and see the world. We all had a story about our own ups and downs. Ivan's stories however, made a bigger impression on me. I reveled on how his determination helped him overcome life's hurdles. It ignited my own resolve to conquer my tribulations.

I regained my courage.

A new year and a new plan - really scary if you ask me. I'd rather fail while trying to stand up to the challenge than fail lying down, letting life have its way with me.

This panda was down, but with his four, adorable, fluffy paws stood up and took on life again head on.

Ivan - Top row, second from left.
Me - Well, you just have to figure it out. 

Have you you ever had a time where you were faced with tremendous odds yet you kept on fighting?