So here I am, working a regular day job part-time, going to school full-time (career change, long story short), rock hunting on occasion, and of course, training and helping run Kindred Protective Arts part-time too.
Okay, okay, I'm just getting that "Why hasn't there been a Stick Chick Blog in forever?" question answered and out of the way before I actually get into the subject of today's (this month's, this quarter's, this season's) Stick Chick Blog post.
For some reason lately, in my relatively limited non-school/work time online time, I've been running across old training partners I haven't talked to in forever (Hello Tomas! Hello David!), and old pictures taken of me training in Mississippi or Texas, or in my old garage dojo.
It struck me: DAMN Y'ALL, it's been a long time. I mean that in a literal, "It's actually been many years" long-time sense.
This got me nostalgic.
Another "DAMN Y'ALL" moment: I've been training long enough to get nostalgic.
I, myself, now have "good old days" of training. I have "training stories" that I tell my students, about people I trained with, funny stories about training, stories about my teachers, and what it was like for Mr. Chick and I coming up. "Back in the old days we used to..."
How the hell did that happen?
I mean, take this photo right here:
That's me, in 2011. It has to be around the time of my now-somewhat-apocryphal green belt test in Arnis.
If I recall correctly, I think that Wavemaster XXL was brand spankin' new at the time. All the paper & writing you see on the walls are our training notes (we used to write down everything we were learning on big post-it pads and put them all over our garage for reference). If you see photos of Kindred Protective Arts on Instagram or Facebook, you'll see that BOB, although he has arms now.
That apocryphal green belt test is a story we tell our students now. It's about how long and arduous our first Arnis belt test was (and how relatively easy they have it now - heck, they don't even TEST-test at KPA). The green belt test in reality was maybe a couple of hours long at most (to be fair, pretty long for a green belt test), but over the years, we might tend to exaggerate how long it took a bit. "It was three hours." "It was four hours." "It took all day." "We went from dawn to dusk."
Y'know, like you do with stories like that.
The "garage dojo with the writing on the walls" is another story we tell our students. This one is not exaggerated - the photo above is of our "overflow" wall, and eventually every square inch of our garage was covered in notes like that. We use it as an example of ways they can train at home (Take notes! Practice at home! Write everything you know on giant post-its and cover your walls with it, like a conspiracy theorist!)
In that picture of me, above, with the Wavemaster and BOB; not only is my 1st degree black belt a few years away, but training in kobudo is even further in the future, going to all of the camps and seminars all over the country isn't even a thing yet, I haven't met a Datu or a MOTT, and this little ol' blog isn't even a idea in my rattan-obsessed brain. Hip replacements & injuries and health issues galore were ahead of me too (but that part would have happened, bruises-for-funsies, or not).
2011-me couldn't imagine what 2023-me is like.
2023-me, the very, very, VERY intermittent blogger, martial arts school owner, third-freaking-degree black belt with students and commitments and working on doing her own seminars with some folks and being recognized on sight by super-duper high level seniors, is absolutely an alien to 2011-me.
I absolutely love my life now. My school is awesome, my students are amazing, I am thrilled to pursue a new career path, and my family is awesome. Life is great.
But gosh, I would love to go back and be 2011-me sometimes.
2011-me had a lot of fun. I miss the people we were training with then - my fellow students are awesome people. It was super fun to work on a daily basis on Arnis stuff with Mr. Chick in the garage dojo, just for the purpose of learning for ourselves. I miss the thrill of discovery of brand-BRAND new ideas and concepts and skills.
If you're in the early years of your training, enjoy every minute of this time. I know sometimes it seems like there's too much to learn and that you'll never be competent enough. Appreciate your peers who are riding along with you, and collect those fun stories to pass along.
If you're further along the path, I think it behooves us to keep in touch with those early-years version of ourselves. To keep that sense of excitement and wonder at the journey, because we'll never know it all. And make sure you're telling the stories.
Maybe someday, my students will pass along the story to THEIR students of how Guro Jackie's green belt test took several days.
Please do like/follow KPA (links above) on Instagram and Facebook, and I'll check in with you guys next time I get to come up for a bit of air.