I know what you’re thinking. “This place is full of meatheads and bullies, those with a penchant for hurting other people.” The truth is, that is what I thought when I first considered joining an MMA gym. I thought I’d show up with an invisible sign on my forehead that read, “Fresh Meat” and all the alphas will take turns pounding on me into oblivion. This fear actually kept me from joining Lightning Kicks for so many years. The fear of the unknown, of what could happen, what could go wrong, and the fear of pain or humiliation kept me on the couch and away from personal growth for far too long. I kept telling myself, “I don’t want to be afraid anymore.” I was scared of conflict, of all the things that could go wrong, of what people were capable of and how I was unprepared and unacquainted with the violence that might be necessary to defend myself.
Finally, when I became a father, I told myself it was time to face my fears and provide an example for my children and found myself at Lightning Kicks. I remember when I got there, I was terrified and was half wondering if there would be some initiation ritual, a kumite that I had to survive in order to be apart of the club. Perhaps this some type of gang and I had to be “beat in,” so to speak. Thinking back on it I laugh at myself because it is so far from the truth and such a misrepresentation of the Lightning Kicks family. I remember strolling towards the mat, trying to play it cool but deep down I was terrified of the killers and alphas that were dominating the mat. But to my surprise what I found was a relaxed and jovial group of people who were in the midst of learning some new jiu jitsu moves. I was sitting on the sideline waiting for the MMA class to start when Amir Khillah, founder of Lightning Kicks Martial Arts Academy, jogged over to me with a big, friendly smile and said, “Welcome to Lightning Kicks! I promise you that martial arts will change your life.” I don’t believe truer words were ever spoken and I was grateful to be so readily accepted by this group of martial artists and fighters.