Never Jump to Conclusions

“I am screwed.”

This past Sunday, I was invited to teach Systema at the 2017 Annual Progressive Arnis Winter Camp. A wonderful group of martial artists from around the country – Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia and various parts of Florida – came to learn new aspects of the art they love and experience new arts.

“Ya, Martin Wheeler usually does this but he could not make it.”

Those were the first words uttered to me upon arriving for my 75-minute session. It felt like I was the band that had to come on after Led Zeppelin. Martin is an elite instructor. I am a local teacher. This would be an adventure. Or a disaster.

Turns out, it was neither. In fact, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The presentation went over extremely well, so much so that a number of invitations to teach at other places came about. Virtually everyone came up afterward to thank me, ask questions or expand on the information presented. I went to this Seminar thinking I would be the teacher. Instead, I ended up a student and learning at least as much as everyone else. Probably more.

There was a famous Indian philosopher named Osho. One of my favorite quotes of his is this: “Comparison is the root of all anxiety.”  And that was what I initially experienced. There was no way I could “compete” with Martin. Few could.

So I did not. Instead, I presented the information, my way, adding my interpretation, history, skills and “twists” into the mix. Somewhere along the way, I learned to appreciate one specific word.

The specific word that I learned to appreciate here was “different.”  The word that means that which is distinct in character. I would not be “good” nor “bad.” Just different, complete with unique skills and equally unique faults, flaws and quirks. My energy was up and the Systema flowed.

We all have something to offer and there are those people who are most eager to experience it. Only you or maybe only I or Joe Smith or Jane Taylor can give them what they are looking for – a simpler explanation, a rewording of something they heard 1001 times or maybe just a kind expression of encouragement. Someone is waiting for you. You and I may not be the best or the youngest or the most skilled. Nevertheless, they need us.

Find them, regardless if Led Zeppelin just got off the stage or not.


SPECIAL NOTE: Big congratulations to Carlos Alvarado and Mario Tovar. Their behavior and interactions at the Seminar were most admirable. They brought honor to themselves, our school and our art.

Also, thanks to Chad and Wendel for the invitation. Much appreciated.