A Roadmap Forward and the Search for Authenticity
In 1998, my Bulgarian roommate Nikolay was robbed on his way home from school. As a show of solidarity, and perhaps in jest of Nikolay’s Bruce Lee moves, our Venezuelan roommate Natasha signed us all up for self-defence classes at the local martial arts dojang. I remember thinking, during my very first class, “I want to do this the rest of my life.” Fast forward to 2011, when I did my very first BJJ class, I thought, “I want to teach people how to do this the rest of my life.”
I’ve told this story, perhaps too many times, to convince myself how martial arts was my true calling. I’ve never shared how at both points in my life, I was personally going through personally-induced crises of the quarter- and mid-life variants. I was drifting and martial arts gave me the anchor I needed to keep myself on an even keel. Indeed, wearing the white belt for the very first time was symbolic of surrender, a blank sheet of paper ready to write a new chapter of my life.
At the beginning of this year, I was asked to reflect on 2017 and communicate the direction that Trifecta was headed. As with all new year resolutions (made to be broken), I dragged my feet for a good three weeks because I couldn’t figure out how to couch a message of new beginnings without sounding contrived. My go-to message was to talk about what Trifecta stood for, as an organization. (For the record, Trifecta stands for improvement of the trinity of mind, body and spirit. Through martial arts training, we are able to realise our self-imposed limits and surpass them.) However, the more thought that went into this first message, one recurring theme stood apart from the rest, the importance of authenticity in our lives and what we are trying to achieve at Trifecta.
Authenticity is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values. At its root, authenticity requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. To me, the practice of martial arts is the near perfect medium for learning to face fears and doubts, to be able to reach deeply within ourselves to find out what makes our heart sing, our spirit soar. It is finding where our authentic self feels the most alive, free and unburdened — and then having the courage to live from this place.
Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine. Then, there must be an awareness of what that looks and feels like, and a willingness to act in accordance with your genuine nature even when it feels vulnerable. This blog, is as much for me, as it is for you. I hope the path I walk will somehow be useful reference in your own journey in life and the martial arts.
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are. - Carl Jung