I Train Therefore I Am – Garry Smith

Since I crashed my motorcycle a month ago I have had a very sore right foot, just the foot below the ankle, it was very swollen and is still a little larger than normal. In the past week I have sprained my left thumb ground fighting and had a nosebleed whilst sparring last Thursday. Luckily the nose held out whilst sparring on Saturday but I did ache a bit afterwards.

It is all minor stuff luckily and we all know pain is only weakness leaving the body……

I guess I still have quite a bit of weakness to get rid of. The thing is I still get a nice feeling when I pop in the gumshield and put on the gloves, It still feels good to stand toe to toe, tap gloves and get the signal to fight, it still feels right to move in and trade, to brawl it out, I am no show-boater. I may puff and pant afterwards but the desire to keep going in is strong.

Nobody is trying to kill one another and it is training with all its safeguards, but you still have to step up to the mark, people are trying to hit you in the face and anywhere else they can. There is no compulsion, we all do this for fun and what we call light is anything but, it is just not full on. If it goes to the ground so be it, the punching continues, no tap outs here. The open mat is good but confined spaces work too, this coming Saturday we will be fighting in the toilet cubicle and in a narrow corridor, there will be a broad range of different experiences, sizes, ages and gender differences.  

It all goes into the mixer, the job of the experienced is to help those with less experience. Training is training, it is not real. Real combat is nasty stuff if you do not end it quickly. It can be costly in so many ways, firstly in damage to your body and mind, as I know to my cost, then comes the aftermath. So bits get hurt now and then and a 57 year old body takes longer to heal than a 27 year old one, sad but true, so why keep doing it? The answer is oh so simple, because I can and it keeps me happy.

Training is part of my life, staying healthy and fit, trust me that is not in an obsessive way, are important to me. Remaining strong as the defender of my family is my main purpose in life, I think. I have a duty as a husband, father and grandfather to protect my clan. Criticise that all you like, and yes I have become the patriarch of the family, it is how it is. It works for us.

We will all have our own individual motivations to train in whatever it is we train in. We will all have our own sense of why we do it, what it means to us. I do not really know what my family, the people I love most, think of what I do bearing in mind teaching Ju Jitsu and Self Defence are both my hobby and my business, I never ask them. I know they think I am slightly mad by riding a motorcycle, (the brand new one should be underneath me as this issue of CM goes out). It is just how I am I suppose, slightly unorthodox.

Recently my youngest daughter stepped back onto the mat to help me teach the Ju Jitsu class my almost 6 year old grandson, her son, now attends. We have 3 generations on the mat now and it is a wonderful feeling that they share my passion. My wife watches as she looks after my daughters 8 month old son it is a bit of a family affair on a Wednesday night.

I will freely admit that when I was 27 I saw people of 57 as old, and they were, because they were socially conditioned to be so. Nowadays 57 is the new 27, in fact it is even better because of the experience we have gained along he way. Yes the body is not the same, wear and tear is an obvious factor, but the mind is less constrained.  I do not measure myself or my performance against a fit 27 year old, that would be unrealistic, but I look to my peers, the people I grew up with and that is where the reference is relevant. Sadly a few are so affected by alcohol and drugs  I wonder how they keep going when their only purpose in life appears to be to consume greater amounts of alcohol and drugs and as my wife periodically reminds me, that could so easily be me had I not met her. Others look and behave like prematurely old men, there is no energy, no vitality in them, their life is a dull routine. Are they happy, maybe they are, who am I to judge, but I can observe.

What I see no longer worries me, it used to, I decided sometime ago to get on and live my life and let others fend for themselves. Somewhere along the way I made an deal with myself to just be me. It worked. I think.

I am no philosopher, I try to educate myself constantly, always craving to add to the body of knowledge that is in my possession already. If I were a philosopher  I would have to think of some great quote that encapsulated my philosophy in a nutshell. But, as I said, I am not.  Maybe I train therefore I am would do it?

Today is not a training day, I have no classes to teach, I am at a bit of a loose end. Yesterday my daughter came round and I played with my 8 month old grandson, he is a strong boy,  even my daughter now admits he looks like me and he does. So as I hold him in my arms I look forward to the day when he gloves up with me and play on the mat like his big brother will soon. I hope I am able to teach them more of the things I have learned and hope they do not have to use it like I did.  

Whatever age you are you need to live life to the full, consolidate existing skills and acquire new ones. Learn from everything you do, everything. I tell my students that every time they train if they improve just 1 thing, however small, then that is a win. Life is not a rehearsal, this is it folks. You have one body, one mind, make good use of them. If you are an instructor then you need to set an example for your students in your training, your behaviour and lifestyle. This does not mean you will get everything right, you will make mistakes, some things will fail. Learn from them and share these experiences too. People need to learn that failure is OK, it is giving up that is not.

Resilience is a vital quality in life, so onwards through the minor injuries, through the mishaps and the odd failure. Do I have any training tips to give? I certainly do, train hard, train because it means something and read quality books and articles to underpin and inform that training. Alternatively simply sit back, switch on the daytime TV and vegetate.


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