Why do I do this?
I began my (very young) adulthood as a teacher (I taught many things, including martial arts and elementary school) and before that I was a lifeguard, swim instructor, camp counselor, sailing and windsurfing instructor as well as a certified inline skate instructor.
I worked as a Recreation Therapist for a time in a psychiatric facility, and although the job was fun, I worked in a setting where no one was ever really going to get “well,” or even much “better.” Eventually the insurance companies decided the same thing and stopped paying for most private psychiatric clinical care. Most of those patients are living life with very little care now, and many need to be in permanent, clinical settings for their safety and ours. Thanks, greedy Insurance Lobby and uncaring politicians.
My first martial arts school was too poorly run, I was young and dumb, and too proud to ask for help. At the time there wasn’t really anyone to ask for help. I ran it for many years anyway, unwilling to admit I needed to move on, but finally, I did. Broke and broken, I moved on…
For a time, I pursued an IT career where I loved the people I worked with and grew to detest most of the amoral and despicable people and businesses I worked for. Corporate management is just so broken. If all of them could have been as smart and morally upstanding as Ari Weinstein, things would have been different.
Then, our kids were on the way. Jamie and I wanted a very special upbringing for them. Ancient Ways was born and one of the first things I did was to not be young and dumb, and I hired a professional mentor through MAIA (Martial Arts Industry Association). They guided me (and still do) and Ancient Ways became the success it is today.
As successful as Ancient Ways is, it requires terribly long hours. The pay is not what I would be making if I had stayed in the corporate world, not to mention benefits and retirement. Not nearly as comfortable as working in corporate America, there must be some other drive to do what I do. So why do I do it?
As martial arts school owners and instructors, we live in a bubble of goodness and morality while the outside world is filled with vulgarity, chaos, selfishness, substance abuse and people abuse. We get to stay in our dojo with people behaving at their best, respectful, honorably and with virtue.
We get to stay active, wear incredibly comfortable clothes and go barefoot all day long.
We get to make huge impacts in the lives of our students and in our communities. We create rock stars out of shy kids, and we have the ability to build back up the broken and tore down adults, and we get to see it happen, live.
We build warriors out of ordinary people. Warriors that will raise the next generation of good, morally upstanding and honorable people.
For many people, we are the leaders of good in their lives, of strength, of compassion and understanding. We are committed to excellence and strive to make others better and better, to reach their full potential. We teach and inspire others to be their very best every day.
I salute my fellow martial arts instructors, especially the good ones who put their students first, like we do at Ancient Ways.
Not everyone will understand the value of what we provide right away, some will refuse to see it, some don’t stay long enough to see it, but in my long years, I’ve seen it, and it’s what makes me go on. There are long hours, hard work, sometimes thankless but over the top effort. We suffer broken hearts when people quit, and there is the often unreturned caring, but it’s all worthwhile.
Sometimes it’s about being that one person in a student’s life who is willing and strong enough to do the difficult thing, not passing them to their next belt, or making a student to do a technique again, even though they’ve done it a hundred times and think they know it, but I know they can do it better. We all need that person in our lives sometimes, whether we like to admit it or not. It’s why I still have a mentor.
It’s why I do this. As much as it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, I have to say, it is an honor to serve my community and my students. To be that person, and to see you all grow and improve. I thank you, for giving me this chance, this purpose. I appreciate you, for you are what makes this so worthwhile.