In my youth, I lived in Irapuato, Mexico. While there, I practiced Taekwondo for a few years to help me with socialization and to stay active. Moving back to the United States, I ended up in Texas and without a dojo. Other than a few friendly backwoods brawls, fighting wasn’t really a part of my life. Not martial arts, but an experience, nonetheless.
At age 19 I joined the Navy, where my job required me to be to very athletic and have hand to hand combat knowledge more than most other Navy positions. While stationed in San Diego, CA, my mother called saying she had found this awesome Kyokushin Dojo with a well-experienced Shihan. She also said there were a few Kyokushin Dojos in my area that I should investigate. Being a good son, I said, “Sounds great!” and said I would. Being a busy son, I did not.
A year later in June 2015, I was gravely injured, and my life changed forever. Sustained injuries included multiple broken bones, including my hip and a shattered left arm. Most critical was a severe traumatic brain injury; I lost right field vision and experienced severe memory issues that lingered for many months. After a nine-month hospitalization and rehabilitation stint, the need for physical therapy remained very necessary and important.
Ultimately, I was medically retired from the Navy and moved to Ellensburg, WA to be close to family. I still needed a lot of assistance as I was having issues moving my right leg and left arm. As a strategy for physical therapy, Mom suggested I take a martial arts class. She was still training in Kyokushin and, based on the positive benefits she experienced personally, insisted it would help me improve. Years later, it was the best choice I could have made to rehab my physical and mental injuries!
When I started in Kyokushin, I could barely kick shin high, had limited range of motion in one arm, and had trouble retaining information. Doing kata after kata, kihon week after week, kumite, repeating moves, learning Japanese words, focusing on my breathing, and learning how to be present in the moment has helped my physical and mental health more than words can express. I do not believe any other activity could have brought me this far from my original injuries. Kyokushin training has been the perfect holistic therapy.
Shihan Ian Quitadamo has taught me how to protect myself and protect others, but more importantly shed new light on life has taught me how to get back up… Kyokushin and coffee too! When life gets hard, do not settle if something can be done for the better.