I spent better part of the last week in Texas, training at the World Modern Arnis Alliance Texas camp. I got to see my teacher, students from my school there, and of course I saw lot of my Arnis training friends for the first time in almost a year.
I certainly don't regret my move back home to Kansas City. I am so glad to be home. At the same time, though, I certainly appreciate how good I had it in my martial arts life back in Texas.
It wasn't just good, it was great.
I trained with my teacher and fellow students several times a week. I got to work with some amazing training partners there, many who became good friends. And my wider martial arts world in the Lone Star state was varied and chock full of fantastic martial artists who influenced me a great deal.
I got to see just a fraction of those awesome people this weekend. There are lots and lots of people I didn't get to see due to scheduling and location, and that's just in my Arnis connections. I'm not even counting my friends at AKATO!
Living in the 21st Century means I can and do stay connected with those folks, and I'm grateful for that. With social media, and email, and video, and even video chatting, I can connect with those people all the time. But it doesn't replace real-world, in-person interaction and training.
Getting to spend the better part of the past few days doing just that - and socializing and all the other fun stuff you do around gatherings of this nature - reminded me of how important seeing them and training with them in person really is.
There is no substitute for live training. None. Online training can help but it's not even close to the same thing.
Martial arts training really is more than just learning how to apply violence in dangerous situations. It's about personal emotional and intellectual growth. It's about health and fitness. But maybe most of all, it's about community and belonging.
Going to WMAA Camp was like coming home for a family reunion. I reconnected with my Arnis brothers and sisters, and it was chock full of warm fuzzies and good times (as well as being intellectually and physically challenging).
I came home feeling tired and happy, but a little melancholy knowing I won't see those folks for quite a while. You don't realize how important something is to you until it's gone, right? I realized how much my Texas connections mean to me this weekend.
They're my peeps. They're my tribe.
Sure, I'm creating friendships and martial arts connections here in Kansas City, but they don't replace the Texans. The Texans can't be replaced.
I'm a Missouri girl, but I'll always be a Lone Star Arnisadora, too.
Do you have martial arts "family" that you don't get to see very often? Let us know in the comments!