August of 2013 marked my 4th year anniversary as a member of Robot Fight and Fitness.
That journey ended today.
As I sit here and prepare myself for transition, I can’t help but reflect on the many transformations that Robot has gone through over the years. Her name was “Robot Method” when we first met, and she was under the affiliation of Wander Braga. I knew this name all too well; my very first coach had the same lineage. She was in her infancy back then, still living within a traditional Tae Kwon Do dojo.
She’s grown up since then, to a point beyond recognition. No longer does she occupy a hole-in-the-wall space shared with another. No longer does she affiliate herself with those from her past…No, it’s a different story now, with a different lineage. What was once a hole-in-the-wall martial arts academy was now becoming a full-fledged Lloyd Irvin derivative.
She used to pride herself in being small-scale and family oriented, where building rapport and developing an all-inclusive community meant everything. There were no power-differentials; no programs, no packages or different types of memberships. No Intro, No Elite, Just Train.
Priorities change. I feared that my favorite mom-&-pop establishment was outgrowing itself, and was even on the verge of becoming an engine of rapacity and alienation. She began to cut ties with those who were closest to her; those who supported her unconditionally from the very beginning. I could no longer recognize the “all-inclusive community” that I once considered home. I was becoming a stranger in a land that I helped cultivate, growing further and further away and more disconnected from those whom I originally looked to for guidance.
I want to apologize to my coaches, students and training partners for not being able to work this out. I am truly sorry and I want you all to know that I did the best I could. I have endured and continued on with a smile because I love the relationships I have with all of you and will always be committed to your success. Your journey and growth will always be my priority.
I would wake up at 4:30 every morning and take 2 buses to get to Robot at 7 to teach for an hour, only to run after another bus to get back to the other side of town. Why? Because I love jiu jitsu. It has given me more than what I deserve. My identity, my support system, my personality and perspective all stem from my training as a martial artist. Much to my distress, it’s time to bid goodbye to a mat that I helped assemble on that early Winter morning, when Robot first opened its current doors. Thank you for the memories: