This past weekend I had the farewell party for my grad school program. It was bittersweet. It got me to thinking about all the other people I am going to have to say good-bye to. Namely, those at Martial Arts Planet.
It was always looming, but the time has come yet again; I will be moving from Kingston in about two weeks.
I've moved countless times for co-op positions, work, and school. I have even moved for love. I have moved so many times that sometimes it seems like my friends and acquaintances only enter my life on a conveyor belt. I get to enjoy their company and companionship for a fleeting period before having to move on. This, of course, is a part of life.
Leaving Kingston is going to be one of the hardest moves yet, having spent 16 of the last 20 months here. Though I also regret leaving my great classmates and professors from the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen's, it is to the community of Martial Arts Planet that I address this post.
I love BJJ, but what I have always loved most about it is the people and the community. I have trained BJJ with many great people in other cities, but the 12 dispersed months on the mat allowed me to really get to know the folks at MAP. I was anxious joining a new club back in September 2009. You can never really be sure how it's going to go. But I don't think I could have found a better fit for me and a better group of people than those at Martial Arts Planet.
It is to you that I owe a huge thanks.
You are a large part of the reason why I train. You are the why I trudged through thigh-high snowbanks that covered sidewalks. You are why I am able to learn and improve in BJJ. You are why I am happy every time I walk through those doors. You are the reason I bike in the rain. You are why I splurge for cabs so I can make class after I wake up from a nap that went a little long. You are how I kept sane through school stress. You are how I kept motivated through some very tough BJJ times. You are why my heart swells every time I think about Martial Arts Planet.
You are why I don't want to leave Kingston.
Whether you just shared the occasional smile or hello with me, did technique with me once or twice, battled through holyfield's with me, rolled with me, laughed with or at me, kindly drove me home, offered your support and encouragement, gave me advice, or went as far as having a number of sushi lunch dates with me, I say thank-you. You have so positively shaped my experiences, memories, and BJJ.
I will miss you dearly.
There are a lot of you I would like to mention by name and list specifically why I adore you, (e.g. Laura, Pete, Greg, Tony T, Lex, Tyler, Morgan, Patti, etc. etc.,), but that wouldn't be manageable since all of you, especially Laura, deserve your own blog post.
But there are two people that I really must provide a special thanks to: coach and MAP owner, Chris, and his partner in crime, Janet.
Janet's exuberance just lights up the place. I am always so happy to see her; I can't help but smile when she is around! She contributes a lot of other things to MAP too. She does a lot for promotion and the like, but, from my perspective, she contributes even more with her patience with and support of Chris's role as a coach. It is in this way that she supports all of the students' learning and training whether she realizes it or not. As someone who occasionally grapples with the BJJ+other-things-in-life balance with my significant other who also trains, I feel that I can appreciate this challenge on some level.
So thank-you Janet for being patient, and for being a huge dork that brings cheer to people's day.
Chris is dedicated and patient in his own right. He is a very talented teacher, and from the beginning, I loved his classes. I think I was especially attracted to the humour that he brought to the mats. The silliness really brings a delightful tone to the entire dojo. Chris is always willing to put in extra effort to help students. He offers encouragement both inside and outside the club, whether you are training for a tournament or are just experiencing a particularly rough BJJ trough. He will also somewhat grudgingly endure your skepticism and resultantly teach you a little lesson in confidence and receptiveness. (I promise I will keep working on this!)
Chris, thank-you so much for everything. Thank you for your time, patience, kindness, encouragement, support, humour, and knowledge. You have had an indelible influence on my BJJ, and that is something that will always be a part of me.
Thanks, MAP. I will be sure to train lots and savour the last couple weeks with all of you!
Who knows, maybe life will bring me back to Kingston in a few years time!
All the best and see you on the mat.