Health is the one thing we all claim to care about, but few people ever focus on their well-being until it is lost beyond redemption. I am not going to be one of those people. In 2016 I have set up a personal wellness trap for myself; a double edged sword of jiu-jitsu and chiropractic work. Starting in January, I have committed to seeing a chiropractor twice a week and then going to jiu-jitsu class. Why not? These things cost a lot of money, take time away from home, demand me to show up, and involve effort on my part. Why? My back, like everyone’s back, has taken a lot of damage from sitting, lifting, riding in airplanes and living life. I cannot fix this alone, so I need a plan. I need to build up my core muscles, lose weight, be connected to specialists who can help me rebuild my body into the machine it has to be if I am to live disease free into my old age.
I do not want to become riddled with pain, which may seem ironic given that my first solution is to roll and get crushed by strong people and the second one is to have another human realign my vertebrae using significant force. Ironic, but it has worked for me along this part of my journey. I think that the gains come from my desire not to unravel the hours being spent in the gym. I have mobility again, but the mobility I have is different than before: I can use my hips and limbs in a powerful series of movements that engage my brain. The way jiu-jitsu lights up my brain has enlightened me to the fact that my spine, which holds the superhighway of nerves in my body, is all-important to my well-being.
The web is filled with negative commentary about the validity and dangers of chiropractors. Perhaps my experience will eventually prove the naysayers and trolls right, but after three visits to Vita Integrative Health Clinic, which is conveniently situated next door to Toronto No Gi, I feel like the money which will be spent over the next 9 months will be a wise investment for the long run. Let me be honest, I have been in pain for the past six months despite stretching, massage, rolling on trigger point tools, and exercising on a regular basis. I needed to try therapy outside the normal take four Advil and call me next month. Healthcare in Canada is free, and when you break an arm, take a heart attack or develop cancer, then I believe you will eventually receive good treatment. However, if you have a chronic illness, mental illness or are in need of specialist attention, then I would prefer a system where I can opt to spend a fortune receiving excellent care, if I want that specific care. Chiropractic care is sort of like a private care system, but it is only that way because so little of it is covered by health insurance. In 2016, I am willing to gamble away a nice suit and a few expensive dinners on the hope that a chiropractor can set me straight on a path I can follow and learn from to support my health for the remainder of my life.
2015 ended with me completing ten group classes and one private session at jiu-jitsu. If anyone had said that I would last ten classes, then I might have shrugged a doubtful shrug. My first few classes left me feeling stupid, old and awkward. One lesson that I have taken to heart, however, is that valuable acquisitions to our wheelhouse of skills always demand more than we ever want to give. I have lasted. Perhaps members of the gym would smile and acknowledge that my little victory is a tiny one. I get it. I know that ten classes is neither ten months nor ten years, but it is still ten weeks, and that is nine more than most people will ever complete. I am slowly learning how separate techniques connect to each other, what techniques may best suit my body proportions, and the most basic foundations of no gi jiu-jitsu. The short private lesson was worth a bit of extra cash, if only to gain a better insight into how my instructors see my abilities and opportunities. Again, it was not necessary, but it was instrumental for my own confidence and served as a reward for moving forward.
To celebrate, and to keep me accountable for 2016, Santa brought me a beautiful collection of jiu-jitsu rash guards and kimono gi from Meerkatsu, CTRL Industries, 93 Brand and Tatami. A student never needs to drop cash on a wardrobe for the gym; clothing will never improve my kimura or wrist lock game. What a few nice items will offer me though is further cement to build the foundation of jiu-jitsu in my identity construction. A jiu-jitsu t-shirt might solicit a comment from a friend at work, while a rash guard worn at yoga might open up a conversation with a stranger. I am enabled to speak about why I love jiu-jitsu practice, and my identity entrenches with the activity. When I began taking my professional photography seriously, I took the same path with my equipment choices, and as I travelled through Japan, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, or Cambodia a special photographic camera opened more doors for me than I ever imagined to be in existence. And yes…I am learning no gi jiu-jitsu, but procuring two super-cool gi for when I am ready to attend Friday’s Gi Basics class seemed to make sense to me. How can a person not love the artwork of Meerkatsu and the entrepreneurship of CTRL Industries? I do. I will.
Photography? Oh, right….I do that when I am not teaching, traveling, writing, spending time with my family or cooking. 2015 was a strong year for my business, but I kind of walked away from the work of the business in favor of taking a break to refocus my energies on new opportunities. From France to Hawaii to Nashville, I breathed new air into my lungs and paid close attention to what the universe had to whisper in the winds. I took away a plethora of new writing ideas from the Dark Fantasy Fiction workshop, and met a group of truly interesting people. My Japanese sleeve tattoo also connected me to jiu-jitsu through my artist, Kyle, who just achieved his blue belt a few weeks back. Photography? I feel like 2016 might bring me back with a whole new game connected to jiu-jitsu and a few of my old friends who have also been woodshedding their skills in 2015. Until then…here is a photographic guilty pleasure using two action figures I received for Christmas. Forgive Batman: he has limited mobility and size compared to Deathstroke.