Gracie Instructors Unite to Help a Jiu-Jitsu Brother!
In the 13 years of running my dojo, one of my biggest fears has been get
ting hurt badly enough to take me out of commission. I have always advised students that they should show up if physically able, even when injured, as it is better to watch than not be there at all. Staying away can easily break your training habit and make it difficult to get back on the mats. This is advice that, up until now, I have always been able to follow.
A few weeks ago I managed to tear several ligaments in my right ankle severely enough to require surgery. Recovery time, 6-8 weeks. At this point it might be assumed the injury happened in training. However, just like the majority of times when one of my students shows up hurt, it had NOTHING to do with training. Being ever the dare devil I had decided at 42 to learn trampoline tricks. I did pretty good…up until I didn’t…
I landed wrong on a back half flip and BOOM (actually a loud POP) no more ankle. Lesson learned…23 years of martial arts training with no serious injury…a few months on a trampoline…OUCH!
At first I was devastated. The thought of no weight bearing, no training, basically no ANYTHING was terrifying! I panicked. I cried. I very likely used a few bad words. Then I started thinking. I have always held the belief that every moment in life can offer opportunity if you are open to it. I started calling on students and friends and the most amazing things started to happen.
First, longtime members of my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu family answered the call. Chris Bailey, owner/instructor at Gracie Scottsdale, offered to help cover classes. My friend and student Martin Camacho, currently going through the Instructor Certification Program, told me,
“Don’t sweat it Michael, we got this!”
My friend and mentor Gary Matsch, a local jiu-jitsu black belt, volunteered to come and train with our Master Cycle students to keep them fully challenged. He has also become interested in fully exploring the Combatives curriculum along the way!
Several other CTC academy members immediately stepped up. Ann Ching and Al Morello, newer to our family, but experienced jiu-jitsu practitioners, offered their support in whatever ways needed. Wu-chun Chou, one of my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu blue belts, took over day-to-day logistics and administration. Before I knew it, everything was covered with a clear road to the recovery ahead.
At this point, 3 weeks in, I have been able to focus very heavily on the management of the school. We have been growing steadily in my absence and the students that have stepped up have already blossomed without my helicopter mentoring. Martin is going to the ICP in July!
I have learned a huge lesson in taking a step back and letting things happen. In the end I am very humbled and grateful for the amazing people in my community that have stepped up and turned what seemed like a disaster into a huge period of growth and renewal. The kinds of relationships gained in the martial arts are truly inspiring.
If anyone reading this is on the fence about whether they should start training, I can only say it has changed my life and continues to do so in so many more ways than I could have ever imagined!
-Michael Stinson (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler, AZ)