Panda Jiu-jitsu

Photo of Milford Sound in New Zealand!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Re-writing my history through Jiu-jitsu

**This piece was originally written 2 years ago for my now inactive Tumblr page

Excerpts from The Cauliflower Chronicles by Marshall D. Carper
Chapter 10 - Hilo Rain pg 151-152

"In the meantime, I wallowed in the misery of my injury. Hilary e-mailed me. She asked me a slew of vague questions, like how Hawaii was, and how I was doing, and if I was having fun. It all seemed sincere until she asked, “And BJ Penn just fought, were you in his corner? Vanguard of Vaseline?”

Vanguard of Vaseline.

I told her that I had been training twice a day, five days a week I described the workouts and the rolling sessions. I admitted to crying after I thought Poai had broken my rib. I ended the e-mail by saying that I was comfortable telling her this because I knew that the people she could and would tell wouldn’t have lasted five minutes at the Academy. I knew that they had never been in a fight and would sooner run than stand their ground. There was nothing they could do to me now.

Who was this talking through me? I didn’t behave this way. I didn’t pick fights. I didn’t speak my mind to anyone. Had a month of training changed me that much? I was ready to fight every single person that had ever wronged me. I was ready to do it with a bum knee. I believed that I was tougher, stronger than anyone who hadn’t ever stepped onto a mat or into a cage.

When I hit send, I realized that I wasn’t training because it made me happy. I was training to prove them all wrong. I was training to prove that I was going to do what most people never could. Change.

I knew that I was changing, but I didn’t know if I was changing for the better.”

Downtown Cebu City and surrounding areas (photo courtesy of Cebu Daily News archives)

Change is constant in every person's life.

I was born and raised on the island called Cebu, in the Philippines. The years spent in the motherland became crazy yet overwhelmingly fun adventure, yet in 2009 I left the comfort of what I called home.

Five years ago to this day I decided to be a soldier of the United States of America. This decision earned me respect from friends, family, colleagues and truth be told, it felt good to be recognized.

The caveat of being the hero was being so far away from home. I missed out on weddings, birthdays, first-born children, engagements, funerals etc. I was in the loneliest state, even while being in the company of my brothers at arms. 
I loved being a soldier. Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. 

I left the ranks of Uncle Sam's military and began the transition back into a civilian - unburdened by the horrors of war, of the loss of my brothers. I abandoned my brothers while they continued carrying out the mission. I packed my bags and sought the comfort of comfortable sheets, warm food and family.

Seeking normalcy I reacquainted myself with people from the past. Although the subject of our conversations and jokes stayed the same, their delivery and timing were off. It just was not the same anymore. There are a significant number of people that I intentionally distanced myself from with some doing the same to me. In my eyes, they've all stayed the same: they who stayed and they who left.

I wasn't satisfied even as I made relationships, I still yearned for more purpose. 

It was then that by some stroke of luck Brazilian Jiu-jitsu found me.

Team Fredson Paixão 2012

From the moment I donned a gi and tied a belt around my waist, I wouldn't be happier and fulfilled. It was then that I realized the troubles of my day failed in comparison into getting choked out or being folded like origami.

I stand among the ranks of individuals that have to endure and relish the same struggles I have. For us to be better than who we were yesterday, to seek never-ending enrichment in the gentle art and in life. Jiu-jitsu isn't just a martial art it's a lifestyle. A lifestyle that goes beyond bowls of açaí, learning Portuguese words like obrigado, and hours listening to Carlinhos Brown. I am thankful that I get to share my jiu-jitsu journey with these training partners, friends, brothers, sisters - family.

Team Walter "Cascão" 2013

I have changed. This was the change my life needed.

I am alive. Jiu-jitsu breathes life into me.

Jiu-jitsu is my life.