MY LIFE IN MARTIAL ARTS
PUSHING MYSELF PAST BOUNDARIES
My entire life has been martial arts, even before I was born. Both of my parents were already teaching by the time I came around; my mom continued to do demonstrations, even though she was seven months pregnant with me. When I was born, Mom would take me into class, where some of the students would watch over me while she taught a lesson. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing martial arts. By the time I was 4, I officially started training at my parents’ school. I remember loving every part of the class and everything I was learning, but, at that age, I didn’t really push myself to go above or beyond. I participated in plenty of competitions, but they didn’t give me the motivation I needed to really get enthusiastic about the sport. It wasn’t until I started getting older that my drive for competition and winning got stronger. When I was about 15, I entered the ATA Martial Arts World Championship that takes place in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was excited to be a part of it, and, while I didn’t win first place, I did place in the top three, which was a significant moment for me. I’d been competing for most of life and placed in other competitions, but this was the first time I placed in a world championship. I proved to myself that I could be successful, and my drive to compete grew. I started to compete more often and, eventually, professionally, where I leaned heavily into Brazilian jiujitsu. This eventually led me to mixed martial arts competitions, becoming a fifth-degree black belt, and starting a program in my parents’ school. When they first opened their school, jiujitsu wasn’t something they taught regularly, but, as I grew more interested and familiar with it, I developed the program we continue to use today. While I owe a lot to the competitions I participated in and still enjoy competing, it’s not what drives me to do martial arts; teaching is. I was around 13 when I first started teaching. Although, the first class I ever taught was actually filling in for my dad. He was stuck in traffic during one of his first classes of the day, so, my mom, who was teaching another class at the time, looked at me and said, “Alright, you got to
teach the class.” It was a little scary; I wasn’t much older than the class, which had around 20 other kids, but I said, “Okay,” and jumped right in. I honestly don’t remember how that class went, but I was told I did a good job afterward. Today, I still want to enjoy training and pushing myself as hard as I can, but I also love teaching. I love helping people reach their goals and watching them grow. Through my own goals, I try to make sure that I’m a good example for the students to show that through continuing in their training and pushing boundaries, they can accomplish a lot in life. Just being a small part in their lives, helping them gain confidence and overcome the challenges they face, is extremely satisfying.
– Keith Olson
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