*I’d like to send a quick thanks to Nathan over at TDA Training for featuring me in his TDA Blitz. He even posted up my logo, which was great.  If you haven’t checked out TDA Training yet (Although you probably have), I recommend it. Top notch stuff. *

Last time you heard from me I was reporting on some Elite XC shinanigans.  Since then, I have been wheeling and dealing down in Miami Beach.  I’d like to tell you a little bit about that trip, and about how my martial arts training affected the whole experience.  Plus I’m going to include some sweet pictures.  Like this one –

That was the view out of my hotel window, and I definitely enjoyed it. But let’s start at the beginning…

The Call and the Flight

A few weeks ago I was at work when we got a call.  It was an invite to present our company (ClassicWines.com) at the Miami International Wine Fair down in Miami Beach.  This event is usually relegated to wineries and retailers, but we’ve been in touch with other businesses in Miami so it seemed like a natural extension to have us there as well.  It was agreed upon and plans were put into motion.

Time went by quickly between the call and the event, and before I knew it I was double checking my carry-on and setting out for Philadelphia airport.

You may be surprised to hear this, but this was my first flight! Somehow or another, there’s never been a time when I couldn’t drive or take the train to my desired destination.  Naturally, I was very precautious and made sure to check everything twice.

As I was going through security, the metal detector alarm went off.  Three armed gaurds came running at me very quickly, trying to subdue me.  I was able to roundhouse kick one in the face while tossing pens at the other two like shurikens. (Sorry, I thought this part needed a little extra spice).

No, I actually used martial arts to improve my mindset.  In a situation that could be very stressful (crowded airport for the first time), I was able to calm my mind and absorb the commotion around me.  This helped me navigate around wayward travelers and traverse security with speedy precision.  In fact, when in a calm, focused state of mind, I also find that I am more pleasant and cheerful.  The folks working at the airport no doubt appreciate a smile now and then amongst the grouchy passengers in a hurry.

Miami, and the Weather is Fine

My first flight went very smoothly and we arrived safely in Fort Lauderdale.  With winter weather quickly bearing down on my native PA, sights such as these were very welcome –


On the Scene – Miami Wine Fair

When we got to the wine fair itself, it was easy to let myself slip into a little bit of intimidation.  After all, there were a lot of wine-knowledgeable people in attendance.  I wanted to blend into the crowd for awhile and not draw attention to myself.  Unfortunately, I knew blending wasn’t an option (Sorry Aikido folks, not this time).

In a self-pep-talk fashion, I reminded myself about the other stressful experiences I’ve overcome.  After all, if I can pass my sandan testing in front of the watchful eyes of Hanshi Heilman and the Renshi Kai board, I can do this right?

So I went to it, and after my first few successful interactions, the ice wore off and I was ready to go.  It reminded me a lot of sparring: as you are padding up before the first fight, doubts and fears are still running through your mind.  Your body is still drumming up complaints, instinctively trying to keep you out of harm’s way.  Yet, after the clock starts and the match begins, anxiety melts away inside of mushin and kokoro.

Miami After Hours

Outside of the conference itself, I had a really great chance to sample Miami life.  For example, the condo we all hung out at after the conference had this for a view –

The island you’re looking at is where stars tend to buy their pads.  I was not invited to that island.

The night life was equally as interesting.  I’m sure you’ve heard from TV and word-of-mouth about South Beach being a very trendy, very club oriented scene.  These rumors are true.  We checked out some fantastic restaurants and they really do spare no expense.  Very attentive, very courteous. Very loud 80s music (I guess it’s ironically hip?)

One thing I learned about myself while doin-it-Miami-Vice-style is that I’m a very basic individual.  I’ve spent many years through training trying to strip down the layers of myself that I didn’t care for or that I thought needed improvement.  Experiencing even a modicum of lavishness put me right out of my element.

After All Was Said and Done

This was a great, eye opening experience; but it was my initial intent to make it so.  I wanted to walk into the airport, the city, the convention center, the restaurants, and the beaches with fresh eyes.  I wanted it to feel new because it was new, and I didn’t want to let myself get buried in all of the contingencies and worries that could have eaten away at me.

I wanted to own the moment.