It started this year landing in Chicago at Midway, grabbing my bag, walking to the "L", riding it the hour and a half all the way to end of the blue line, O'Hare, then taking another rail to the international terminal, checking in, hustling to the gate...barely, and I mean barely
once again, all the while, making the overnight flight to Dublin, Ireland, a six hour layover until a flight to London, then finally an hour and a half bus ride southwest to Bristol, England where I finally stopped, some thirty hours since leaving Kansas City behind. This was the beginning, it set the tone of an epic, awakening, 40 Days and 40 Nights touring across Europe. The pace never slowed, as soon as I laid my head down I had to move again, over and over. Every couple days; new place, people, culture, language, experiences, repeated over and over again. I described it as "Living Fast!" These recent 40 Days and 40 Nights felt like five years.
It was another culmination of a lifetime of hard work, on and off the mats, compiled with a generous heart and spirit, finding ways to connect with people from different countries, become relevant in their eyes, and get invitations extended from these very same people. I built off of what I started last year in Europe, expanded to new countries, took chances with complete strangers, or a friend of a friend of a friend...chances, opportunities where most would only see dangerous uncertainty. Some of my contacts, how I got linked up with them, if people only knew, they would think I'm legitimately crazy. This tour, the last 40 Days and 40 Nights were completely amazing in every single way imaginable, incredibly hard to summarize, impossible to detail fully...but this is my attempt...
The first seminar was in a nearly 200yr old war building with water running in from the roof, years of blood on the floor and mats, no running water, and twenty of the coolest, hungriest fighters in a small unknown rural area in Southern England anyone could ever ask for. I watched a proper cricket match on a Sunday, England's famed national sport dating back to as far as the 16th century. I walked the halls of Durham Cathedral, listened to stories of Saint Cuthbert's relics, magical powers, and hundreds of years of attempted thievery. I heard the sound of bagpipes ringing through the streets on my way to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, where I set a Scottish sgian-dubh on the bar as my buddy and I looked at the bartender and proceeded to talk and taste some of the finest Scotch in the world. In Holland we found a controversial dolmen, possibly some 5,000 years old. I was shown Westerbork Deportation Camp, a holding prison for Jews during WWII that shipped 102,000 people to their deaths at concentration camps. In Germany I drove an Audi on the autobahn, assuming the role of The Transporter. I rode a 7hr bullet train down that exceeded 300kmh. I tasted the finest beers, food, and friendship, saw the beer gardens, urban surfers, BMW plant, Bavarian cathedrals in Munich. I went full circle back, taught a shoot fighting/bjj/self-defense seminar at the former WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Television Champion and World Tag Team Champion, Alex Wright's most popular Professional Wrestling school, then worked an impromptu match with Europe's next up-and-coming rising star. Upon
landing in Montenegro I immediately sought out one of my all-time favorite tastes, one found only in that unique area of the World, the Balkans, a pljeskavica. Montenegro is so rich in history and unbelievable stories, untold and/or buried, only to be humbly shared with me this year, stories of awful war, children running from planes dropping bombs...I appeared on one of their popular national television shows, I was taken into the mountain town Centinje, the only city in the entire country not taken over by Turks, to see a portion of the cross Jesus Christ was crucified on, that only a select few have ever seen...I was given food and unparalleled hospitality each day, shown around the most beautiful ria city in the world, Kotor, full of ancient Venetian fortifications that dwarf the likes of Venice. At the end of my time there in Podgorica I was presented with the country's flag as a gift, a surreal, unforgettable experience that I will forever cherish with strong responsibility. I narrowly escaped Istanbul, Turkey, spending a crazy whirlwind twenty hours there that involved, to say the least, racing through the streets in a police escort, mowing through pedestrians up on the sidewalks right up to the gates of Topkapı Palace. I saw Sweden's untapped lands and beauty, their clean living and people, a lifestyle longed for by all...I met my beautiful girlfriend in Dublin, we walked around and through Trim Castle in Ireland. Dunluce Castle. Donegal Castle. Dublin Castle. We felt the tranquility of the Irish glens and the roar of their waterfalls, took in the air, watched the thousands of sheep roam the endless green landscape, stood atop Slieve League, the most impressive sea cliffs of the entire island reaching nearly 2,000ft. We taught a seminar together, and afterwards I was honored with awards, recognized as the First American teacher in all of County Donegal, Ireland...
At each stop, each of these cities, countries, places...it was only natural to feel a level of anxiety, uncertainty, risk, to the next stop...but each and every single time those feelings of doubt flipped into pure joy and happiness. I was met with warm welcomes and hearts, each time it turned out, people showed me their customs, culture, land, generosity, a connection through martial arts and sport, and most of all, they showed me their friendship. I shook hands, smiled, laughed, talked, shared and carried on with each and all of these generous people throughout each country. I have been asked over and over since returning, how did I go about doing a European tour? How was it possible? How did it happen? There is not one, single, simple answer. I had no blueprint, nobody I've known has ever done anything like this. I contribute this 2014 European Tour to nearly a lifetime developing on the mats, fighting my heart out each and every time, being a good person, giving back and reaching out, listening to and helping others. Not a complex formula, but a formula that works, and more importantly, a formula that breeds a good life. A life worth writing about. The more I adhere to this formula, the more and more opportunities and "luck" present itself. I challenge you to draw your own blueprint, I dare you to do some trailblazing of your own...truly, the more you reach out and help, the better person that you are, the more you get back and receive, I promise you. The more opportunities and "luck" you will find. My recent "luck" took me on a journey, 40 Days and 40 Nights of a roller-coaster ride, Living Fast!
Thank-you. Dank u wel. Danke. Hvala. Teşekkür ederim. Tack. Tak. Cheers!