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A letter to Kyuzo Members

This one is just for the Kyuzo members. Everyone else can tune out.
A chara,
We’re coming up on one year’s residency in our new home, and one year since the birth of the Kyuzo name and the new team that has come with it. I thought I’d mark it with a new blog post, especially since with my other work, the blog has been updated a little less frequently these days. For that I apologise, but I can’t really complain about having too much work to do. If anyone has ever been without something to do for a while you’ll know what I mean.
This has been the single most difficult year of my professional life. It has been fraught with challenges- personal, financial, athletic and business- and now, here I sit at the end of 12 months of what I can only describe as horror with a more successful gym than I’ve ever had, a tighter team than I’ve ever had, a career back on track, persistent injury problems improved, and with several projects either starting to bear fruit or in the pipeline ready to go. It wasn’t like that a year ago.
This time 12 months ago, I was, to make a not too bold assumption, lying in bed, unable to move my neck without pain, eating painkillers like they were M&Ms, wondering what the future would be like. I had just pulled the plug on my business and livelihood, I had a neck injury that was beginning to creep into my everyday life in the form of pain and discomfort, I wasn’t enjoying my training anymore, I was facing into having no income (if you’re self employed, there’s no such thing as dole money!), no guarantees, my athletic career being over and done with and the possibility of having to break up a gym, club and team that I had built over the course of 8 years. In short, I was an unemployed Dad of 2 young boys, I was unhappy, unfit, unprepared for the future and yes, quite scared. But this isn’t a sad post.
This is about, as my father in law would say, Just Getting On With It. On what we’ll call day 1, I woke up and wrote down a plan of what I wanted for our gym. I wanted a new, stable home that I would be in control of. Clean and purpose built, with showers, dressing rooms, a bright, warm training space and somewhere that would be seen by people who wanted to join us. I realised that despite all the bad vibes, there was still a core group of guys in my gym who would stick by me. I also realised that this is just about the only economic situation where a small Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club might be able to get all of those things. In truth I thought there would be 5 or 6 people moving to the new gym with me, but it turns out there was about 15, plus another 8 or 9 sets of parents who would go where I went. This really motivated me to do better for them, and sure enough everyone in that first month swept, hammered, painted, welded, bolted, lifted, scrubbed and smiled their way to what we have today. I spent money. Holy shit did I spend money, but I would have quadrupled the cost of making Kyuzo what it is today if so many people hadn’t given so willingly of their time and efforts. Kyuzo exists because of the many guys and girls who mucked in without complaint, and who continue to help the club out by being a source of positive energy. Some of them have moved on, some have moved home, and some aren’t training anymore, but the vast majority are still around every day in the gym. Here’s to you all. You did this. Kyuzo exists because of you.
As I’ve said, this isn’t a sad post. This is a post about team, friendship, support and community. These are all things that make Irish people embarrassed and turn away muttering, but they are there. We are a great team, not because of medals and titles, not because of these qualities. We’ve had some rough patches in the last 12 months and we’ll have some in the next 12 too, but these are just bumps in the road. Let me tell you what I see in Kyuzo’s future for a minute. 2 years from now, I won’t be the only coach. I’m already not, but there’ll be lots of others by then. The over 35s (and there will be a few of us by then) will have our own class at least once a week, and there will be a competitor class full of younger guys, as well as a larger group training together. We will have a large MMA class producing fighters, and we will have 60 plus little kids training (there are already 30 kids, with plans to add another class soon). There may even have to be an extension added. I can see all of this through my crystal ball. Onwards and upwards are the only directions I can see for us.

So thank you for a great year everyone. It has been the most difficult I’ve ever had, and yet sitting here I can say without hesitation that at the end of it, I am more satisfied and proud of the gym than I have ever been since I started coaching in 2003. I hope that all of you share in that pride and if you don’t, walk into the gym the next time you’re there and look around you. Then remember what state we were in this time last year. You did that.

Your coach,
Barry

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