This past weekend I attended a memorial service for someone I trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with since my first class. For almost seven years, I had the privilege to train with and be inspired by Tyler Keene on a regular basis. We rolled just a week before he died. As we started our first of several rounds that night, we did the customary hand slap and fist bump, and I said, “All right, Tyler, show me something new.” And he did, over and again. As usual, the always-humble Tyler did not readily accept my compliments and explained techniques without a hint of condescension. We shared some laughs and, out of the clear blue, traded a couple reminiscences about our early days as white belts. I did not know Tyler as well off the mat as I did on it, but by all accounts his character was as unique and tremendous as his jiu-jitsu.
Tyler’s passing has made me reevaluate a lot in life generally, and, of course, it’s made me reflect on our shared passion for martial arts. I am thankful for a great number of things in life, but I want to take an apropos moment here to express my gratitude for the facet we at the Academy share.
I am thankful for the ability to train in the physical activities I love and to do so almost every day.
I am thankful for my instructors and mentors who keep me excited to improve.
I am thankful for my many and varied training partners, from brand new students to my peers and superiors. I wouldn’t have my modest skill sets without the truly terrific people I work with and learn from on a daily basis.
I am thankful that my best and most supportive training partner, Danelle, is also my steadfast partner in life.
I am thankful for the trust and opportunity given to me to teach Krav Maga at the Academy.
I am thankful for the students who keep me from complacency and motivate me to continue my journey as an instructor.
Be well. Happy Thanksgiving.