Rick: Tell me about one of your most memorial experiences helping someone
Van: One of the best experiences that I have in training people, and I still talk to him to this day, is about this great kids’ name is Carlos. I remember when I first met him, he was around 7 or 8 years old and he was a little Gordo, you know a little over weight kid, and he pretty much just had a lot of stuff going on in his personal life.
In school he was being picked on and was just trying to find a way to build his self confidence, so getting into being a self defense class was a way he thought he should go. Carlos came to the gym that I had worked at and he started to take my classes. At that time, I was teaching the youth MMA classes. And I said to him, “Dude, I got you hooked up, so no problem.” When my students come to me, I am always hard on everybody. I tell them if you train with me, I am going to train you like you are getting ready for a professional fight.
Carlos come to class pretty much everyday, busting his ass. Ironically, one of the kids that was bulling him started coming to the gym too, and I remember when this kid started to train. He was taking the same classes that Carlos was taking. Carlos came up to me one day and said this is one of the kids that is messing with me. I told Carlos don’t even worry about it Dude, just keeping coming in, and you know you are going to get this right.
I would always talk to kids about not to be a bully and stuff like that mainly because when I was a kid. I was a bully. So I talked to this kid about being a bully.
When I see kids getting bullied, it makes me humbled and I sometimes think, “Dam Dude, like it sucks being a bully and even being bullied.” What I would do is when we would have our sparring sessions; I would make them both go up against each other. And this kid (bully) would always get the better of Carlos, because this kid would was just like a natural freak athlete you know.
But what happened was one day the kid (bully), ended up disappearing, and I did not see him for months. However Carlos kept coming every day, every day, and his grabbling kept on getting better and better. His boxing was getting better and his kickboxing also kept on getting better. Every facet of his game was getting better. And I remember, maybe six months went by, and this kid (bully) comes back into the gym. And I said to him, “You Dude whats’ been up with you?”And he is telling me about how his home life has been. At first he hesitated but he then told me he has been having a lot of stuff going on. When he started talking more about his home life, I started to see why he was a bully, why he had this anger, why he had this aggression, and stuff like that. It was because he had a rough home life.
So this guy that was bullying Carlos started coming back to the gym and I had him spar again with Carlos.
I remember little Carlos, “friggin beat the friggin brakes off this friggin kid.” This kid use to be the bully on him and was now being bullied. He was getting his friggin ass kicked. I had to step in and say, ok Carlos, stop, stop. And this little dude, Carlos, he amazed me in so many ways, not just in the confidence he built up for himself but he also lost weight, he had this confidence about himself, and he was getting great grades in school. Not only was he doing all of this, the kids that were being the bullies in school, Carlos became that guy that stuck up to the guys that were being the bullies for other kids.
It was just amazing to see the transformation in this Carlos, how he would go from this kid that didn’t have this confidence to be able to build the confidence which was the number one thing he had wanted to change. Carlos had that belief in himself that he could change. And he came in to this gym to change that.
“If you don’t want to change or you don’t believe in yourself that you can change, you are not going to be able to change.” Van
Carlos is now in his mid-teens and is getting straight A’s in school, wrestling in school, and he is a fantastic athletic right now. Just seeing what he has accomplished and how he has grown is amazing.
Not only has he changed, himself but everybody that is in his life he is changing his or her life too. So that is one of my best experience that I can remember.