Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's lonely

I started MA in the mid 80s, in a weird gym with delusions of church premise. They kicked kids out when they reached their teens, but I'm not aware that anyone I met there practices any longer. Including the gym itself.

Then I went into a small gym, that hopped places a couple of times, in two... "seasons". Of the guys I met my first time there, kids, only two were still there when I went back. They left, junior black belts, and didn't come back. Pity, they had potential. Those who were at the smaller of the places we hopped into, some remain. They were already black when I met them. None of the others. My instructor apparently left teaching. One of the guys I respected has set up a weird association with, in those cases I can judge, suboptimal instructors. And gained over twice the dan he used to have.

Of those who left, one introduced me to Kajukenbo. He also did TKD. Left, at least, Ju Jutsu and Kaju sometime later. He'd wanted to be an MA teacher. Of the group I met in Kajukenbo those days, 10 years later only two instructors remained (Ángel Garcia and Jesús Juní). And myself, after those 10 years off. Of those instructors Ángel mentored, most have left MA, many have left his teachings.

The shop I bought my gis during my teenage years closed a year and a half ago. It had a name, a history, quality (although the old gis are way better), and yet it closed, its business down because of "The Crisis" [TM].

As I started Kajukenbo about seven years ago, I had a small bunch of higher belts. One remains (a tad off, since he just had twins), one is now my equal. The rest are gone. Of those "behind" me, many have left. And, since we are an unknown school, we have better retention than most. Still...

All that above? If you do MA for social reasons, be prepared for this or take another path. MA are lonely. People leave for a thousand reasons. They get tired of being hit, their jobs no longer allow for it (timetables, trips...), they grow a family that doesn't permit them the time, they get injured... And, years later, you find yourself talking about lost mates with people who managed to meet them briefly. Yes, at the higher belts, attrition is not as high, but when it's felt, it hits harder. All this assuming your mindset, your training routine, matches with your group.

Don't despair, that's not my thrust, but be ready. Take care.

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