For those who do not know, I am Michael Rethmeyer, 37 years old, professional martial artist, married and father of three children.
I would like to tell you my story, for the 2016-year, and I hope it is a story that inspires you to do what you love and live your life to the fullest.
To begin the story, I first need to take you back to September of 2015, In September it was discovered that I had a severe infection that nearly ended not only my career but also and more importantly my life. After 10 days of hospitalization, I was forced to endure a grueling road to recovery.
Due to this illness, I felt as though the world was upside down, but I realized one thing; we can parish at any second without any warning. While the illness would have ruined many lives, I utilized the illness as a learning experience. You have to always be close to your loved ones, appreciate everything that you have, maintain a positive outlook, and most of all not let negativity define my life. Most people attempt to relate or say “they know how I feel” but I do not think anyone can understand an experience like this unless they go through a life changing experience similar to mine.
I have been blessed to be able to do what I love, the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I own two studios (one in Belleville, IL and one in St. Louis, MO). After my illness, I decided to challenge myself by going back into the world of competition Jiu-Jitsu, as a registered black belt in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), the most prestigious and authentic organization in the world. I made this decision knowing that I will have to deal with a great deal of adversity due to extensive injuries I have obtained throughout the years of training. I have several injuries that require surgery, but I made the decision to not let pain be the deciding factor of living my life the way I want, and I want nothing more than to challenge myself.
My support network, more specifically my wife, has always supported me throughout my career and she is the main reason I am here today. When considering competing again, I approached her and asked her of her thoughts. She not only said yes, but she also presented me the gift of competition for our 10-year marriage anniversary, a fully paid trip to the IBJJF Pan-American No-Gi Championship in New York City.
Anytime I prepare to compete, I look for wisdom and guidance from all my coaches and friends, and many thought that I was crazy to go back to competing in my physical state. If you meet me you can tell from the way that I walk I am forced to endure painful hip and back pain that limit my mobility, but the adversity that I face due to my injuries have motivated and made me more hungry to win my competitions.
I have competed in four tournaments throughout the 2016 competition year as a black belt in a younger age division (Master 1, 30-35 years old):
• IBJJF Spring International Chicago Open
o Gold Medal in Weight Division (Gi)
o Gold Medal in Open Weight Division (Gi)
• IBJJF Summer International Chicago Open
o Gold Medal in Weight Division (Gi)
o Gold Medal in Weight Division (No-Gi)
o Gold Medal in Open Weight division (Gi)
• IBJJF Pan-American No-Gi Championship
o Gold Medal in Weight Division
• IBJJF No-Gi World Championship
o Bronze Medal in Weight Division
I have committed my life to martial arts since the age of 9, and I have achieved a lot of titles and have been blessed with the ability to compete against some of the best competitors from around the world. I have never competed for bragging rights or to show off, but to do it for self-achievement, challenge myself, and most importantly it made me feel alive!
My point in this story, do what you love before it is too late! I have learned that life is to short and you do not want to miss out on who and what you love.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story about this last year and I hope it motivates you to chase something you are passionate about. Please believe in yourself as I have grown to believe in myself.