Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My (Married) Martial Arts Life

October 31, 2017 marks my 27th wedding anniversary.  I wrote a post about our training together, here.  I'd like to share why I think our married martial arts life works so very well.

My husband and I are unusual in that not only are we both just as active and passionate about the martial arts, but that we were married 16 years before we stepped on a mat.

October 31, 1990.   If you get married on Halloween, you wear black, duh.

He started in the martial arts about 6 months before I did, but we’re the same rank in our primary art (Presas Arnis) and we both pursue our own martial arts interests outside of our primary art.  I study Kobudo and Okinawan Karate, hubby has studied Goju-Shorei weapons and he trains with Hock Hochheim’s organization.

I know a few couples who do martial arts together, but typically, they met in the martial arts and married later, or, only one was doing it (typically the husband) and the wife joined in later.

I don’t know any couples in the martial arts who were married and then started training together later (in our case, much later).  I know they are out there, but we seem to be very, very rare.  Our journey in the martial arts, like it is in our adult life, is together.

I can tell you, that training together is the best.

I get to spend a lot of time with him in something we both love, which is about as ideal as it gets.  He has different talents and strengths than I do, and we complement each other well.

So how does my married martial arts life work?  Here’s some ways we keep it together:

We are careful to keep our personal relationship off the mats.  That is, everybody knows we are spouses, and even though we have been married 25 years, you would probably have a hard time telling  if you didn’t already know.

This does not mean there aren’t times where he does something and I think he’s awesome because of it (for reasons more than just admiring his technique).  I just keep that feedback for when we’re not with the other students.

We keep it professional, like a workplace.

We know how to coach each other.  This is something we had to learn, though.

When we first started, my husband was a couple of ranks ahead of me.  This was a big problem because he often was in a position to coach me as a lower ranked belt, and that just plain rubbed me the wrong way.

He was talking down to me.  Or so it seemed to me.

Since day one, our marriage has been one of equals and partnership.  Having one of us “above” the other just doesn’t fly, and having him talk to me like I was a lower ranked stranger was irritating and made me resentful.

However, he did outrank me.  So we had to learn how to coach each other without being condescending about it.

This is especially important now that we are the same rank in our primary art but different ranks in the other arts we pursue.  If I teach Kevin what I’ve learned in Kobudo, I have to make sure I speak to him respectfully.

 I think this actually helps us be better partners and coaches to other people, too.

We are each other's’ biggest fan.

I make a point of complimenting him when he does something awesome (which he does frequently, because he is awesome).

I make sure to talk up what a good martial artist he is, and where his (considerable) talents lie - in front of him and when he’s not around.

I make sure to support him in his ideas and what he does in the martial arts.

I share his successes, and support him through his failures.

And he does the same thing for me.

My hubby being a badass.

Sounds just like a healthy marriage, right?  Those same principles must hold in a martial arts couple just as they do in every other aspect of life.

What are some of the advantages of training together?  Here’s a few:

We never, ever run out of stuff to talk about.  This is probably true of any couple that shares a hobby.  We can nerd out on martial arts stuff with each other, go out into the garage dojo, and try stuff out.

We always have a training partner.  We are never stuck training solo at home.  We can always talk the other into “playing” something we want to work on.

Suddenly, disarm!

When we need a martial arts thing, we rarely have to justify it to the other.  It’s obvious that I need a new gi, or a weapon (or another weapon, or another weapon...) to him (and vice-versa).  Yes, I totally understand why he had to spend $50 on a banner of his martial art to hang in our garage dojo.

All of you in relationships where  you are the lone martial artist is now thinking to him or herself, “Whoa, how can I get him/her in the dojo?”

Now here are some downsides that we’ve had to struggle with:

Scheduling is a bitch.  Especially now that we study together AND separately, trying to manage our family schedule is really difficult at times. Childcare in particular is hard to figure out sometimes and our solutions are sometimes less than ideal.

Having our youngest become old enough to sit on the sidelines and read or color has become a HUGE help (as well as our older daughter being old enough to watch her for now and then), but it doesn’t always work out (especially for longer events, like seminars, boot camps, and those trips out of town we love to take now and then).

Sometimes it means one of us gets to go to that neat martial arts event, and the other stays home.

Sometimes we end up speaking to each other in a non-martial-arts context for only a few minutes in a day.

You may have relatives and friends to help out - and if you do, appreciate that big-time.  Our closest family member lives 8 hours drive away from us, and we have to pay for babysitting if we want to do that.

It sucks when one of us is wrong on something. Such as mis-remembering a technique, or misunderstanding something our teacher said.  We can get into debates over this, and one of us ends up “right” and the other “wrong”.  I don’t like it when either of us has to be wrong.

So that’s my married martial arts life - yours might work differently, but that’s how we keep it together, through over 7 years of training together, and 25 years of marriage (as of this writing).

If you're married and you both do martial arts, how does it work for you?  Got any martial arts couples you admire?  I'd love to hear your stories!