It's a way of life. A life passion. Something that just calls to me. Ever since I was little I was mesmerized by things like the kung-fu tv show with David Carradine, those cheesy kung fu flicks on weekends... it all fascinated me. I want to seriously study every style I can get in. I started for self defense, stayed in for the stress relief, and found something to love in life for the rest of my days (God willing).
I was about 6 or 7 when I was first picked on... children are some of the worst creatures on the planet (especially when they have bad parents). A couple older kids grabbed me in the bathroom, one had me in a full nelson and the other just punched my stomach like a bag for a minute. Afterwards I was crying, alone in the bathroom, wondering why... eventually the teacher sent someone to check on me... Had I known even half of what I know now... ai-sha....... but anyway...
A couple years after that I first started my experience with martial arts... I was given an old paperback kungfu book, it had stretches, some almost form-like combat techniques, training methods, etc. Most of my flexibility came from that wonderful little book. It was only many years later as I neared adulthood that I could enroll in a martial arts class and learn for real. (I grew up in a small town where it just didn't exist.) The first school I found I was driving 40 miles one way to make classes, until my dad found out just how far it was and pretty much stopped it cold (since I was driving his car and he was giving me gas money at the time, lol).
A couple years after that I met my current primary master in a self defense class in a local major university. He impressed me with his intensity... it was hardcore. As soon as I heard he opened his own school in town, I signed up that first month.
When I first started... I wanted to be SURE that no one would ever mess with me again. And if they did... woe unto them. ...It is a bad way to be. I wasn't at peace with myself quite yet. I had so much rage within from my childhood. It was my only fuel.
I progressed quickly in my training without incident, no one messed with me anymore. It's like I had developed even my aura as a weapon... women and children fled for their lives as I approached, men never made eye contact more than briefly, even the animals steered clear. (ok, maybe I'm embellishing just a little, but you get the idea, lol =) No but seriously, I scared people I didn't mean to without even trying, went around sizing up nearly every man to cross my path, always looking for vital spots, etc.
I would actually watch the news, using the foul murders, rapes, and robberies to fuel my fire. I was constantly looking for threats, weapons lying around to use against them, etc. Again, it's a bad way to be.
Fast forward about 5 years... as I neared my blackbelt I began to re-evaluate my reasons. I went through a phase where I almost lost my drive, my spark, my desire to improve. I had a dream one night... my master and I got out of his car and were going into a building and he said to me: "Destroyer..." (yes, he actually calls me that in real life) "You've gotta stop worrying about acting like a blackbelt all the time, 'cause you'll never need to use your skills." (or something to that effect, I've got it written down somewhere) The point hit home, even though it was just a dream. I've mellowed out quite a bit since then, lol.
If you ever find inner peace, hold on to it. Don't let anyone or anything rile you up and do something foolish. I felt like a true ninja once before in my life; my heart was full of love, the secrets of the universe were laid bare before me, and things just literally fell into place out of the blue. It's an amazing thing.
Since then I've branched into a couple different styles, still working on my ranks in my roots. There's just not enough time in the day to make every class in the area. It's a fantasy of mine to have every good area instructor all under one roof in some kind of giant complex with martial arts going on 24-7. Seems there's too much posturing and ego between some area instructors to make that happen anytime soon... but... it would be awesome.
For me, martial arts is a way to perfect and express myself. I train simply because I love training, not for a black belt, not for competition, self-defense or even for a future job. I simply love the physical activity, the ohana atmosphere I'm in, and the way I get home and continue to perfect my forms, being aware that I will always have room to improve.