When I first came across the Core JKD studio in Tampa, it was by complete accident. I was delivering pizza at the time, trying to stockpile as much cash as I could to support my family. On one particular delivery I got turned around, and randomly pulled into a parking lot to figure out my bearings before I got back to my 14 hour shift. As I lifted my eyes from the glow of my cell phone screen, I was able to make out the letters on a building, right next to an Italian restaurant. "Core JKD Academy" rang a bell in my mind, that now I recognize came from some random Internet diving after watching a Bruce Lee documentary. After hearing about Jeet Kune Do months prior, I had Google searched to see if there were any gyms in the area that were teaching this discipline. Who would have thought that I would have just stumbled into the parking lot? I don't believe in coincidence.
Our beings have a way of calling out and asking for people, places, and experiences to grace our lives. When those doors appear, it's up to us to walk through them or not. I was struggling with confidence, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. My job often times brought me to some sketchy areas of the city, my instincts told me weren't safe. I had been in a few fist fights before, but I needed to KNOW that I could take care of myself. I needed to find faith in my abilities, I needed to face my fears, and I needed to find truth.
Words cannot describe how thankful I am for the time I've been able to spend touching hands with my Core JKD family. Life's breeze has a peculiar way of carrying us all in different directions, but we do so bravely with a newfound belief in truth. Some of us return weekly, and others when it's time for us to stumble back towards that door. We never forget where it's located, and it's never locked.
My Sifu, Shaun Rudie, has an extraordinary way of letting us in. It isn't in the way that he speaks, or demonstrates, but in the way that he SHARES his experience with us, so that we may experience the unedited version of the story, and then write our own. I breathe differently now. I am more aware. I am composed, and comfortable with the peace that comes from stillness.
If you ever find yourself knocking on that same weathered door, we invite you to join us.