At 42 years old, I never imagined I would begin training Jiu-Jitsu. Today, at 44 years old, I never imagined I would still be training Jiu-Jitsu.

But I am. Largely because of Kevin Synan.

“Professor Kevin” as he is known at our training gym, Fighting Chance Fitness, in Saint Augustine, Florida, along with his wife, Christy, and son, Julian, (who are also black belts) train people of every age and skill level to become more physically fit, more mentally confident, and more capable of defending themselves should they ever need to.

But the Synan’s are so much more than martial artists, or coaches, or gym owners. They are the heart and soul of our Jiu-Jitsu family. They are the model of a healthy family many of us didn’t have.

And by treating us all like family, expecting the best from each of us- from our attitudes and work ethic, to how we treat each other on and off the mats, to encouraging us to keep going, even on the days that we really want to give up, we love them-and each other- like the chosen family that we are.

Which is why it has been so difficult to learn that our teacher, our Professor, our champion is being forced to fight a very different kind of fight.

But if there is a light in this darkness, it has to be the opportunity to witness the outpouring of love and support for this dear family. Humbling, breathtaking, maybe even staggering, describes the depth of gratitude to witness all the people turning out in support of our Professor.

A coming together of an enormous extended BJJ family, made strong and fierce by years of supporting each other, training with each other, encouraging each other, and holding each other accountable in the best ways.

This community is the heart work of the Synan family and I am honored to be part of it.

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