This is the first semi finalist winning entry in the Gamenss Never Quit Moment sponsorship contest. BJJ Weekly will be publishing 3-4 of these stories about fellow BJJ enthusiasts who overcame adversity to continue their training. Each published author will win a gi from Gameness, and the grand prize winner, selected with help from readers, will become a sponsored Gameness fighter.
We've chosen to publish the note Shane added to his entry because we feel it helps to put his story in context and gives insight into the passion that he has for BJJ. Thanks for sharing your story with us Shane, and congratulations on becoming the first semi finalist! Thanks to our friends at Gameness for sponsoring this contest and supporting BJJ.
I've been training Martial Arts since before I can actually remember. In fact, I can't even really remember the actual time I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specifically. It feels like something I've been doing all my life.
In 2007 while serving over seas is when the first "quit moment” happened. Everyone has quit moments, especially as a white belt, or a blue belt, but this quit moment was different. I was thousands of miles from home, from my Professor, and my team mates, in a place that I can only equate to hell. No mats in sight, no training, no anything. I felt like the only thing that would make that place alright would be just a few minutes of tatame beneath my feet, the rough feel of GI and lapels in my hands. I day dreamed about this for so long, that it went from making me smile, to making me sad and missing home more then ever. I started to miss training more then just being back in the states. The only way to subside the new sadness was to tell myself that I was blocking it out of my head, giving up on it all together. Those of you who have the bug already know how impossible that is, and probably have already laughed when reading that last statement. I made it a few days, but found myself waking up in my tent at night in mid flower sweep with an imaginary opponent. Jiu-Jitsu had become to much of me to let it go. The next day I found a bunch of old foam exercise mats in our gym, and taped them together. Training had begun, and peace was restored to my life. When I got home training continued, but with a even stronger passion then before.
Fast forward two years, Merritt Island, FL. I had fulfilled my military obligation, and had relocated to FL with the dream of opening my own BJJ Academy. After a few months of training with an incredible group of guys, things with my business partner went south, and I was forced to shut down. My students and I banded together to come up with a new location, some money for mats, and various other things we'd need to continue our training. Despite all of our hard work, we just couldn't pull it off. I was crushed, I packed all my things into my car, and headed north to Maryland where I would stay with family and lick my wounds. It was like a terrible nightmare to have my dream of my own Academy come true, to have wonderful students that I had come to know and love like family, and to get to do what I loved most as a job . . . and then have it all torn away from me. I didn't know where to turn, what to do. I got angry and I didn't even know who I was angry at. I packed every sign of BJJ, MMA away, books, magazines, clothes, Gi's, belts, gloves, everything. I enrolled in college, and said I wouldn't ever fight again. Friends and family had told me that I needed to focus on "a real job" and stop with all this "fighting business". I believed them. I avoided the UFC events, the martial arts section of the book store and magazine rack, hell I even started to be able to block out the kids in TapOut and Affliction shirts (my biggest pet peeve) at the mall. I was pushing forward, and I thought it was behind me. Any happiness on the outside was totally fake, I was longing for the Tatame beneath my feet again, the drilling until exhaustion, and the high fives and hugs at the end of training. It hit me, it wasn't just the training, it wasn't just the rolling and techniques, it was the life style. Jiu-Jitsu was who I was, and this new person I was trying to be wasn't real. Jiu-Jitsu gave me focus, and motivation, it gave me the best friends and team mates a guy could ask for. Jiu-Jitsu improved every facet of my life, and without it I was withering away inside. I unpacked it all, and seeing all my stuff again was like Christmas morning. I scraped together what money I had and bought 200 square feet of mats, and was laying them out in my drive way on the nice days and inviting friends to come try it out. I was back, life was good.
April 2010, feeling good to be "me" again I decided that I would travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to try out for the UFC Ultimate Fighter reality show. I had trained hard for this in the weeks prior, I was feeling great, down to the required weight, technique was feeling sharp. I was ready, this was my big break, and my chance to prove to everyone that this "fighting business" was really going to take me somewhere, that it was "a real job". With two of my closest friends behind me, we packed up the car and headed south for what was suppose to be the first day of the rest of my life. The night before I couldn't sleep, we stayed awake till 2am drilling and drilling with tryouts starting only 6 hours later at 8am. There were hundreds of people there to tryout for 16 slots, but I didn't care. I was ready, I had trained for what had seemed most of my life for this. The time came, and I stepped onto the mats, and I finished my opponent with what seemed like zero effort. The next round would be striking with pads, and I really shined here too. I made it on to the next cuts, the interview. I guess it wasn't my time, after a few questions and what seemed like the shortest conversation I was told "we're sorry, but you're just not what we're looking for". I was crushed, and that drive home may have been the quietest road trip ever. I told myself a thousand times driving up I95 that I was done this time. That I had put my ALL into this and it got me no where, and that everyone was right. I needed to grow up and do something with myself.
Back in Maryland, I kept pushing forward in college. Work and study work and study was my life, no sign of training. The bitterness of rejection kept the desires at bay. I became obsessed with a perfect 4.0 GPA and rising above my peers to be the best. I had found a new way to compete, and this would be the only thing I would go after, or so I thought. I was taking a Entrepreneurial studies class, and the focus was on innovation and adaption to overcome adversity in business. Everything this Professor in a suit and tie said, I had heard before I just didn't know where. Was it high school? The military? Study your opponents, practice your strategies, take chances, forge alliances, learn from others, learn from others mistakes, learn from your mistakes, don't accept rejection, look for other ways around an objective instead of always blasting right through it, always be moving forward, don't stop or stall. These words suddenly clicked, they came from a previous Professor, but this one wore a GI and a Belt. Business was Jiu-Jitsu . . . . and that meant, Jiu-Jitsu was business. The dots were connected, my way to do what I love and still "get a real job". I could finally turn this "fighting business" into a "fighting - business". I hit the books in school even harder, learning everything I could about business, learning from my mistakes in FL with the previous school and my business partner. I wrote everything down in a journal, just like I use to do as a white belt and a blue belt in the early days of my career. When I wasn't in college class or studying, I was back on those mats in my drive way, with new friends to teach. I pulled out those old notebooks from BJJ and studied them too. Reading, revising, highlighting, typing my journals into easier to read and understand formats. I combined Business theory with Jiu-Jitsu theory and evolved my classroom performance and my mat performance. It was like these two things were meant to be together. I worked hard on myself, and on a business plan that would secure a future living my dream. I finished that college course with a 97%, and currently do hold a 4.0 GPA in school. I owe a lot of my work ethic and discipline to my training, and the teachings of past BJJ professors.
Fast forward one more time, its now March 2011. I'm still a full time college student, still holding down that 4.0 GPA, but there is more to me then that. I'm the owner and Chief Instructor of my OWN Academy again. I opened the doors this past October, and within 6 weeks had so many students I needed to upgrade my mats and find a bigger space. We've since moved into our new home, more then quadrupled our mat space, and are gaining new students every week. The business is alive, my students are improving rapidly, and making me more proud every single day. I can proudly say I did this all on my own, no business partners, no financial backers, just me and my desire to overcome any obstacle, and the drive to always improve my position. Already in 2011 my students have earned Gold Medals at several tournaments in the local area, and brought great pride to themselves, the academy, and the entire Robson Moura Nova Uniao Association. I'm fully living my dream, and have the support of the best students, friends, and family a guy could ask for.
Like I said everyone has their ready to quit moments, some are bigger or smaller then others. I applaud anyone that ever pushed forward when it got tough. I'm not here to say that I've had it harder, I just wanted to tell my story, and win or lose I hope this gets published somewhere, so that maybe just one person will read it on one of their quit days, and say ... that guy did it, so can I, and will put the GI back on.
Its 1:11am and I'm beat down after two sessions of BJJ and one of strength and conditioning today, and my eyes are burning as I finish writing this. Every part of me hurts, my ears are sore and swollen, and I have an ice bag ace bandaged to my shoulder. I feel like quitting every day, I ask myself why do you keep doing this to yourself. Your ears are gross, your body feels 20 years older then it is, you have the lamest social life on earth, and all your free time aside from training is between college books and BJJ videos and magazines. Every day I feel like I want to quit, I look at my students, I see their accomplishments, and their smiles, and hear their laughs. They work so hard to improve themselves, they say that I inspire them, but the secret is .... they are the ones that inspire me. They're the reason I wake up and roll the GI and belt up and shove it in the bag every morning, no matter how sore from the day before I am. They're the reason I miss out on all the "good social functions" and make the personal sacrifices I do. You can keep your party life style, and your beers and girls and night clubs, they're not for me. I've found my home, with the Tatame beneath my feet, the weave of the GI against my skin, and that old purple belt that's so faded it appears to be dull dull gray/dirty white around my waist. Jiu-Jitsu is my life, its in everything I do, it's in my heart, and next to it are my students, and my instructor Master Robson Moura is there too. These are my most valuable possessions, and I've finally learned that when you lock your most valuable possessions away in your heart like that, nobody can ever take them from you. OSS!