Coming Full Circle In My Martial Arts Journey
Updated: Nov 3
Group photo of the black belts at Shin Bu Kan last night (My dad is the shortest one at the front)
Yesterday I visited the Mississauga Judo Club also known as Shin Bu Kan. This is the dojo that I began my training at when I was 7 years old. It has been over 10 years since I have been here. Sensei Michael, Eric and all of the other senseis have done a great job with the dojo - It's been beautifully renovated and their kids + adult programs are thriving. It was great to see many of the kids that were really young the last time I was there are now adults and they are also successful black belts. I got to catch up with an old training partner Jakub who was a very successful Judo competitor when we were younger, we competed together many times for Team Ontario. My brother Braiden and my dad(One of the Senseis - In the group photo) also joined me for the class. This brought everything full circle for me and made me reminisce on my martial arts journey (Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) and everything that has happened to this date. It all started when I was 7 years old at the Shin Bu Kan Dojo. I was a young kid with ADHD and behavioral issues. I had 3 siblings at the time and being a black belt in Judo himself, my father enrolled all of us into Judo since he understood the benefits and importance of it for us. I trained and competed consistently well into my early 20's, winning many local/provincial level competitions and competing many times at the National level for Team Ontario. This journey had lots of up and downs and there was many times that I wanted to quit(My sister Yacinta also) for various silly reasons, mostly wanting to play more video games/hang out more with my friends/being lazy even though Judo was only 3 times per week. Going to Judo was non negotiable for us and there were many times where I resented that when I was younger. Looking back now, my dad making us stick with it was one of the biggest blessings for us. For me personally, Judo was a great outlet for me to get my energy and frustrations out, it was also great for keeping me disciplined and focused. There were many times in my teenage years where I felt myself slipping off onto a darker path with bad influences (Hanging out with the wrong crowd) but having Judo as that consistent variable in my life really anchored me to a good path because of all the good people and role models that were around me to guide me in the right direction. There is a wise saying that you become like those who you spend the most time around, that's something that we need to be really diligent about and choose carefully, especially for our kids. Skipping forward to today, I'm now 33 years old. I've become one of the most successful Jiu JItsu competitors in Canada and run a Martial Arts Academy (Team DNA BJJ in Whitby, on the border of Oshawa) with my wife Sarah which focuses on Brazilian Jiu JItsu that currently serves 200 amazing members from 4-60 years old. We've been open for over 6 years and I have to say that the accomplishment that I'm most proud of is not the medals I've won but in being able to help our students make amazing transformations from helping kids gain confidence and learning the skills to defend themselves to helping mothers and fathers join a positive community where they have made lifelong friends, build healthy habits and get into the best shape of their lives and so much more. It has been a fulfilling experience for us. Through our gym Team DNA BJJ in Whitby on the border of Oshawa, we have had a huge positive impact on the lives of hundreds of people and it's crazy to think that none of this would have been possible if my father had let me make the decision of quitting when I was younger and not mature enough to comprehend the consequences of that action. I'm very grateful for all the amazing coaches and people I've met along that way that have helped me out and I look forward to keep paying it forward to others through my work at Team DNA BJJ in Whitby. We focus mostly on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but also have Wrestling and Judo classes one day a week because they are important.
Jakub Gracyk & Dainis Nguyen Huu
Written by Professor and Sensei Dainis Nguyen