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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

You Can Go Home Again

The comments on social media kept getting more and more frequent over the last couple of weeks.

My friends and training partners down in Texas were gearing up to gather at the Datu Dieter Knüttel seminar my teacher, Mark Lynn, was hosting.

Without me.

When my teacher first booked the weekend-long seminar some time ago and told us about it, I instantly knew two things:

1) I couldn't go, and 2) I was going to hate not going.

The cost, the logistics, none of it worked. I couldn't afford it, I don't have much time off, I don't have anyone to be with my 10 year old (Mr. Chick works evenings and weekends).

But I didn't completely rule out the trip until I developed a really severe problem with my shoulder that knocked me out of training for a long time. That fact (even though it's improved a lot over the last week or so) and all the other issues just made it utterly impractical for me to go.

Yeah, I hated the fact that every grown-up consideration made it a no-go.

It's not just the fact that every single seminar I've ever attended Datu Dieter has been excellent (and I've seen him several times).

It's that I knew that he'd be a big draw for a lot of my martial arts friends down in the area, including people I didn't get to see much before I left (my friends down in Houston in particular).

A lot of my closest martial arts friends - my peeps, my tribe - were going to gather for a weekend of fun and training. I knew what that was going to be like, and I know it's my happy place.

And I wasn't going.

So on Friday before the seminar, I'm commenting on my friends' social media posts things to the effect of "You guys have fun! I'm sure it'll be an awesome weekend" instead of what I was really thinking.

I was really thinking, "You guys can't do this without me! HOW DARE YOU HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME!"

That's irrational. Of course they can. I left, and life moved on for all of us. They don't need me to be there. I'm not one of them any more, by my own choice.

And then...

My teacher made it happen.

We figured out a solve to the worst issues that prevented me from coming, and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Texas.

And man, am I glad we made that happen, because the weekend was SO AWESOME.

As always, Datu taught a lot of well organized and practical material in a way that is accessible to everyone, experienced and newbies alike. That's important, because he made sure the new folks could get things they could execute and understand, and we veterans got to do things that were beyond the basics.

Some seminars throw tons of material at you, hoping that each participant will get a few things here and there that will make sense for them. This seminar spoon fed us well thought out material to make sure everyone got it. It didn't overwhelm us and totally burn out our brains after two days of training.

Excellent material I'll be using in the Kansas City Presas Arnis Meetup and in our classes at Elite Dragon.

As fantastic as the material was, it didn't make the weekend for me.

What made the weekend for me was the reaction of the folks in my tribe when I surprised them by showing up.

I know about 98% of everyone there before I arrived. Heck, some I knew even though they didn't know each other up to that point. Everyone was so welcoming and seemed genuinely happy that I made it. And the few I didn't know, I was happy to meet, and I hung out with them, and got to know them better, and they're great additions to our tribe.

It was like they were going to have a great weekend without me, but it was a better weekend with me.

My absence matters. My part in this tribe of ours matters. I didn't leave, not really. Those people are my home.

When it came time to leave for the plane back to Kansas City... I didn't want to leave. I literally burst into tears.

Not that I don't love my life in Kansas City - I totally do - I just wanted all of these Texans and Oklahomans and Germans to move to Kansas City with me.

I had a heck of a great martial arts life in Texas, I really did. I didn't really understand how really awesome it was until I left.

THAT made the trip - seeing my martial arts family again, reconnecting with them, and getting that confirmation that I still belong. I didn't leave, not really. I may live in Kansas City but no matter where I am, I'm one of them.

The only way it would have been better is if Mr. Chick were with me, because it's his family too. I guess we're just gonna have to save up for another trip down there that both of us can make.

So thank you, family. Thank you to my teacher Mark Lynn and to Datu Dieter Knüttel making the trip happen. Thank you to Bethany and Holly for taking care of Younger Daughter while I was there. Thank you to Basti Wales and everyone at Hidden Sword, at TNT Self Defense, at Clear Lake Modern Arnis, at Arnis OK, and Beck's Martial Arts (I am not listing all of you individually because I am terrified of missing one of you and I don't want to do that).

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much it meant to me.

Are you part of a martial arts "tribe" or family? Did you have to move away? Did you stay connected and what's it like when you go back "home"? Let us know in the comments!

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