Life has handed me a serious set of curve balls at an alarming rate. Some on a personal level and others on a physical level. As I started to really set a grove into my deadlifts and throws, I suffered a grade 2 hamstring tear while on vacation in Kentucky (note to self: don’t try and save falling drunk people at bars) that has completely halted my deadlift progression. On a personal level.. well thats personal but lets just say heavy lies the crown and being a brother is no easy task, ever.
As I gather my thoughts and start to re-arrange my training I can tell you I have not slowed down one bit. What would of normally sent me in a spiral of self doubt and sadness has only refined my training and desire. With nationals being under 4 months away I have to start sharpening up my focus and training. At the same time, I am aware of have some good years left in certain sports and my old Muay Thai coach came calling at the right time. I knew there was a fire in my belly waiting to be ignited, old foggy memories ready to be cleared up and an old war bear that had missed the violence.
I am not saying I am going to start throwing mits around and sparring every week but I am 100% saying I am going to start training… in fact.. I did! My first class back to Muay Thai was a couple weeks ago and I can tell you no amount of cheesing was lost. I felt like a kid again. Smiling, laughing, tired as hell and scared to mess up so as not to do push ups again. There I was, 70 pounds heavier than when I trained in the past but nevertheless once again the student. I wanted to write about the physical endeavors of strongman and over coming this hamstring but you know what? That is part of the game isn’t? I tore it and I’ll get better but this.. this feeling of throwing the gloves around again is just a thing of beauty.
After my last fight I swore I would never train Muay Thai again with another group or coach after 7 years, I kept my word. I just couldn’t think of another person that could push me, inspire me and dive deep into my soul like Wesley Carroll. Wes has been an essential part of my life and those who know me on a personal level, know exactly the massive impact this man has had on my life. My first true coach and the man who NEVER let me give up on myself or others. He instilled passion, love, fury and a killing instinct into my SOUL. He was there to push me beyond my low self esteem and carry me through some of the hardest moments of my young life. Always a voice of clear reason, always a shoulder to lean on but more importantly, always the stone to sharpen the axe.
Years upon years as a younger man spent running track, training Muay Thai and getting my ass kicked (literally) with Wes, would help mold the coach and lifter I am now. You see, I was not forged under the barbell but instead, I was honed and sharpened in combat with the warrior mentality. I was not born under the iron that doesn’t hit back, instead it was the ring, blood, rage, broken bones and torn sinew that made me the man I am today. Early morning wake ups, 6 mile runs, hours of shadow boxing, fights, sprints, spars, kicks, knees hahah goddamn I could go on all day man.. I really could. This was my first love, my first true passion. It got me out of bed, it made me grow into a young man. Martial arts showed me the path to discipline even when I veered off of it.
And there I was, throwing gloves and feeding focus mits once again. In many ways it was like riding a bike and I felt the skill set was still there. Although I move more like a baby rhino than a gazelle nowadays, my old fighting name “Bear” remains fitting, if not more than ever. It was a name that was given to me and how and why is a story better told over a beer than an article. I’ll end this by saying that I missed it beyond words, beyond tears and beyond the amount of words I can put in this article to describe what she means to me. I can tell you as I write this my eyes and heart well up with fond memories of the young man I used to be. I can recall the emotional highs and devastating lows of winning and losing fights. I can describe each of the broken bones and how many times my heart was made full and simultaneously shattered beyond repair. My hands almost tremble as they fall behind my finger speed in describing just what this feeling is. Is it nostalgia ? Is it reliving a fond memory .. No. It being exactly where I need to be 20 years after first starting martial arts, 8 years after my last fight and with so many battles to go. I tell you this story because this is my life, this is how I feel about a beautiful moment in my path I had thought long gone. It is hard to let things go to chase a particular goal and dream. I had many nights of self doubt, tears and broken dreams as I left fighting behind for new paths. As I grew in strongman I always had that bitter sweet flavor of nostalgia in my soul as I talked old fighting stories or cleaned the dust off my gloves. And although I am not fighting anymore, there is a beautiful feeling putting on my gloves again, striking with purpose and helping others do so too. I am writing this to remind you that when you truly LOVE something, it never really dies. It sings and whispers in your ear for the rest of your life.. always waiting, always there for you, always at the end of any road of your life welcoming you back and welcoming you forward.
Never Stray from The Way