For the 1st time in at least 6 weeks I am alone with nothing to do. I have been on a whirlwind of work, training, coaching, family…… This has been one wild ride, not just for the past 6 weeks but for the past 40 years of my life. I am sitting in my hotel overwhelmed with emotions and feelings about this particular adventure and the many people that have gotten me here.
On the immediate front, I would not have been able to be as ready as I am without the team. Not just the guys that beat me up for the past month but those that covered class, left me alone to stay focused, and those that took shots they really wouldn't have for anyone else. I am only as strong as the people around me and the people around me are some of the strongest most honest people I will ever know.When I say this is my last fight I want to cry. It is hard to accept that I am getting older and that I am not what I once was. The reality is always, you are who you are and you are where you are because of your choices. I know I have chosen well in my life because today is one of those days where I would not want to be anywhere else in the world, preparing for anything then what I have to do tonight, and with the people that are coming, watching online, etc…… I can feel that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do. I am definitely on my path today and I am ready for where it leads.
I would not be here without my parents - they will both be here too :) If they didn't take me to Atlantic Karate Academy all the back in the '80s, I would have never started training. This lead me to my 1st only person I have ever thought of when someone says “Sensei”, Patti Booth/Oneil. I have trained in more physical styles and competed under more demanding systems then what I did under Sensei BUT at the time, she was the most demanding, hardest, and always inspiring person I have ever trained under. Patti Booth/On’eil Sensei will always be the person I will credit for giving me the foundation to build future success.
Quick Sensei story. I was a terrible fighter as a child. I didn't win my 1st fight for 8 years! When most competitive instructors would push a loser like me aside, Sensei made me stay after Saturday class and beat me every week until I stopped feeling sorry for myself and let go of the fear that was holding me back. She did something for me. It wasn't a money or competition thing. She saw what I needed and she gave it to me. I have never forgotten this and I credit my ability to endure directly to that experience.
The people that have been my students and friends along the way are what have kept me in the game for so long. Mike, Maria, Jay, Jaffer, Karl, Zed, Jeremy, Emily, Alex,....... so many more…. you all have made a huge impact on my life and allowed me to be a Teacher and today a Fighter. We have shared the mat and shed lots of blood, sweat, and some tears together. I hope to have made an impact on you as much as you have on me, OSU!
The list of Sensei, Sempai, Coaches, Trainers…. is very long. I have not spoken or seen many of them in quite a while but I have never forgotten them or the wisdom they have shared.
Chun Mon Tsang taught me how to push myself and what being strong really is. He made me understand what knock down 7 get up 8 is all about.
Dane DeRose opened my eyes to how to integrate all the things I was playing with into a cohesive style. He also supported me and guided me thru good and bad times. He was the 1st person to make me understand the Sempai Kohai relationship.
Paul Criscuolo and I ran into each other on the job at the Atlantic Club. We got each other right away and he gave me a real education in Boxing that I needed. He has always been a friend and person I can trust. We don’t see each other often but when we do it was like we saw each other yesterday.
The last person I have to mention is Arne Soldwedel. He recruited me for Seidokaikan. Once I joined Seidokaikan, Arne gave me a crash course in K-1 and Knockdown training the Osaka way. No person has ever kicked my ass so bad and taught me so much. He took the rough concepts I was playing with and showed me how it was already put together by a group of savages in Osaka at Seidokaikan Headquarters. He is an uncompromising person that does what he wants and gets what he wants because he leaves no options. Arne really taught me that there are no excuses, you do what you set out to do or die trying - and if you die, it better be because he gave you permission.
Arne pulled back the curtain and showed me who the Wizard really was. No other person has had a greater impact on my technical knowledge of full contact fighting and what the human body is capable of enduring.
At the end of the day I am really nobody. I am just a guy. Tonight I fight for nothing more than myself. I am not going to be a great champion or win any fancy belt. I am going to glove up, bite down, and fight til I can’t or they stop me. After that, I walk away and bury the competitive fighter that I once was. Its time for me to be a Father 1st and foremost, a Husband, a Son, a provider for my family, and the best Sensei/Coach I can be.
I love all of you that have been there for me for so long. I love all of you that have allowed me to be your trainer. I love my family for putting up with their eccentric and nutty son, husband, dad…..
I have never done what was asked. I have always done what I chose to do. Tonight is no different. I picked this fight and I choose to finish it my way. I choose to be Brian “the Lion” one more time…….
With Peace, Love, and a Little Violence I say thanks and see you on the other side.