Chris Civello, owner of Sakura Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Woodstock, opened a studio in New Jersey in 2010, and right after purchasing a much larger facility to handle his growing business, the pandemic hit, and he was forced to close.
Chris, his wife and sons moved to Woodstock, and with many lessons learned along the way, have opened a new studio with a whole lot of success.
Follow Sakura Jiu-Jitsu Academy on Facebook.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Woodstock, Georgia. It’s time for Cherokee Business Radio. Now, here’s your host.
Sharon Cline: [00:00:24] And welcome another Friday Fearless Formula on Cherokee Radio X. I’m your host, Sharon Cline. And today in the studio, I have a really interesting person. He’s a jujitsu teacher. I don’t know if that’s actually the official way that you would describe yourself as a teacher, but he started in jujitsu like over 20 years ago and is you used to live in New Jersey and came down here like two years ago or so and now has a really successful jujitsu studio and it is called Sakura Jiu-jitsu Academy in Woodstock. Please welcome Chris. Hello.
Chris Civello: [00:01:01] How are you? I’m good.
Sharon Cline: [00:01:02] Thank you for coming to the studio.
Chris Civello: [00:01:04] And thank you for having me.
Sharon Cline: [00:01:05] You’re welcome. I read an article about you and I thought, this is exactly what fearless formula is all about. So you initially had a successful studio in New Jersey. Would you tell me a little bit about that?
Chris Civello: [00:01:18] Yeah, I started. Bare bones. I mentioned that it was like down an alley in a basement. I took over a wrestling academy and I remember begging the the the owner at the time to give me some space. And it was like 500 bucks a month for like a quarter of the room in an office. And I was like, okay.
Sharon Cline: [00:01:45] I’ll take.
Chris Civello: [00:01:45] It, I’ll take it. And then I begged him to give me one month for free. And knowing him now, I’m shocked that he said yes, but he said yes. And I was like, you know, give me one month. I promise you I’ll have your rent on on the next month. And I got it done. And that’s how that’s how it started. I know students.
Sharon Cline: [00:02:03] You just have faith. Yeah, faith to get started.
Chris Civello: [00:02:06] I really thought that I was going to it was going to be my excuse to train all the time. And I was going to have like 200 students in two weeks. I was convinced and two weeks came and God, no, I was training less than ever. And I had like four students.
Sharon Cline: [00:02:24] And then you had like pressure, financial pressure.
Chris Civello: [00:02:26] Oh, yeah, big time. Yeah. So I changed careers from tattooing to jujitsu. It was kind of a jiu jitsu was getting an intrusive. Yeah, and I just wanted to. I was around like great people. I thought not that I wasn’t tattooing, but, you know, it was the people I wanted to be around, right? And I just kept wanting to be there more and more and I was working less and less and training more and more. And then one day my wife was like, You need to start working like you doing. I was like, I’ll open a school. I’m like, just like that. And. And then the search started, and that’s where I ended up.
Sharon Cline: [00:03:06] So when you tell me a little bit about jujitsu, so I took Krav Maga for a little while and I really liked it. And it’s this is really defense techniques, but how does that compare to jujitsu?
Chris Civello: [00:03:18] Jiu jitsu is like a grappling art, so it’s based on closing distance, gaining control of a person, taking them down to the ground where you have more leverage and hopefully leading to a submission, making the fight stop via like choke or joint lock. Oh, wow. And it always struck me as the most practical, because I could practice those things over and over. And, you know, the person will tap if they’re uncomfortable. And we could get out of the round, laugh about it, talk about it, and kind of enter back in. I always thought some of the other martial arts I’d had experiences with were impractical. Where there’s no sparring, it’s a lot of punching and kicking in the air, a lot of like what I what I would do. But there’s no practical way to maim somebody, you know what I mean? So that that I liked that about it the most. You know, I.
Sharon Cline: [00:04:16] Think that’s an interesting point to make, is that a lot of it can be kind of in your mind, like, if I were in this situation, I would have this round kick or something. But when you’re actually physically sparring with someone, you get to actually really feel the emotions in the potential situation you could be in in real life, although in a controlled way.
Chris Civello: [00:04:33] Yeah, of course. And you see that I’ve seen, you know, I’ve coached so many people at this point and I’ve seen guys that were great in the room, great at sparring. You know, they looked very promising. They go out and they just choke, they fold, you know, like mentally and then competing becomes something they need to practice to get better at. So if you take the person just that never sparred ever, and now they’re in a situation where they have to perform. And that’s not the time to be wondering if you can or not, you know? True. And chances are probably poor that you won’t perform because you haven’t. Done that movement. You don’t know how it’s going to unfold, how the person is going to react. So I thought jujitsu was always a great. Art in that respect.
Sharon Cline: [00:05:21] And mentally, I imagine like I get my own head so much and I’m my own worst enemy. I have analysis paralysis where I don’t know what to do, so I don’t do it. But I can imagine if you have some muscle memory, those things take over for sure.
Chris Civello: [00:05:34] Yeah.
Sharon Cline: [00:05:35] I guess if you’re practicing enough.
Chris Civello: [00:05:36] Yeah, you should. It should be like that, you know, because I’ve experienced that as well. Like you, you start thinking the worst.
Sharon Cline: [00:05:44] I hate thinking.
Chris Civello: [00:05:46] You start thinking and then you’re late. If you’re late, you get tired. And then if you’re tired, you’re not going to do well.
Sharon Cline: [00:05:51] So true. Well, I thought it was so fascinating that you were all the way in New Jersey and then came well, you had opened your studio in 2010, I believe, but then the pandemic hit. So how did that impact your business up in New Jersey?
Chris Civello: [00:06:05] It’s just bad timing. I remember we we were in the process of moving to a storefront and it was a much better location. It was right on the highway at like a traffic light. It was great. Town was a little better. And, you know, I didn’t think I was going to grow much more where I was. We didn’t even have an address. I used to have to have to run upstairs and go outside with flip flops on and flag everybody down because the address we would give them would take them down to a like a junkyard. It was awful. Awful. I used to see people, like, pull up for their appointment, look around and just drive away. I’m like, Oh, man, oh, no. So it was it was time, you know, I took a chance and everything was going great. We were building out and I had the best landlord you could probably have asked for, and everything looked good. And then we opened up in February, pretty early in February, I forgot the exact date and that month I didn’t put a dollar into advertising. We signed up 21 students and I remember that number specifically because I never had done that before. And I was thinking like, this is I remember coming home and being like, it’s finally going to pay off like we’re doing. It’s going to happen. You know, I could feel it. And then classes were huge. And then, you know, every now and then you get a question like, hey, you know, what do you think about all this COVID stuff? And me, like, everybody else was like, you know, it’s the flu, whatever. Like, it’s no big deal. And then, like, bad stuff started happening, you know? I don’t know. People said it was a little I don’t want to say better or worse, but different in the south. In the north. I mean, I could attest that people were you know, people were dying and getting really sick. Some people very close to me and my family.
Sharon Cline: [00:07:59] So sorry to hear that.
Chris Civello: [00:08:00] Yeah. So yeah. And I remember I started getting death threats.
Sharon Cline: [00:08:07] You started getting death threats for giving your studio.
Chris Civello: [00:08:10] Or staying open? Yeah, nothing got mandated yet. We’re still, like, going towards it. There was talks about it telling me I was killing people and oh my God. And, you know, never leaving a name, of course. Or anything like that, you know. Holy cow. Through my through my portal where you would put your information for a free class. Okay, well.
Sharon Cline: [00:08:29] That’s terrifying, though.
Chris Civello: [00:08:30] Yeah, it was odd. Odd. That’s a good word.
Sharon Cline: [00:08:33] But no, I don’t. I can’t imagine.
Chris Civello: [00:08:36] And then and then I remember it was like March 13th. I didn’t get to go to class yet. And my wife was like, Hey, you know, you might want to check this out. And the governor, you know, it was the statewide mandate that you were closed and that was it. And it was $1,000 fine per offense every time you were caught open. And so now my my business, my asset has become a huge liability because some schools were training, like back door training. And like I would have got caught in 2 seconds. It was like the I mean, the most the broadest view of of, you know, it was so open someone would have saw. And I remember the the police weren’t the only ones that could give you a summons. Fire department could and health department could. They had like, you know, it’s just impossible, impossible for me. So we tried to do like online courses, I guess, and it turned into me breaking down like video of, of matches. And that was cool for about two weeks, you know.
Sharon Cline: [00:09:47] Not the same as the hand-to-hand combat kind of feel, I guess, as well.
Chris Civello: [00:09:51] And then that was it. Just like that. We were done every day. Somebody called me up and canceled their program and and I let them. I mean, of course, everybody was having a hard time, so. Yeah. Just wound.
Sharon Cline: [00:10:05] Up closing.
Chris Civello: [00:10:06] Yeah. I described it as like trying to hold, like, fistfuls of sand, you know, how.
Sharon Cline: [00:10:11] Terrifying.
Chris Civello: [00:10:12] It was. It was hard, you know? And then it was supposed to be two weeks, two weeks to flatten the curve, remember? The curve still going, I’m sure.
Sharon Cline: [00:10:22] Well, I think what’s interesting is to note that a third of business is closed during the pandemic. So far that I’ve heard a statistic about. So I’m thinking that you were amongst good company, I suppose, in that there are just so many people who couldn’t survive.
Chris Civello: [00:10:38] Yeah, it was tough because you would see it happening. I think that was tougher. It’s the anticipation of what’s going to happen, not what’s really what’s happening. And you would see it like you would see it one by one, like from different states. But, you know, you’d see like a post with an empty room and a guy thanking everybody for their time with him and stuff and heartbreaking. Yeah. You’re like, oh, man, this is like, this is coming, you know?
Sharon Cline: [00:11:03] So how did you get from New Jersey to Woodstock, Georgia? It seems so random.
Chris Civello: [00:11:10] It’s it is random. We we would visit family in Florida and we had this this. Awful dog. I know dogs are awful. No, dogs are awful. Blanket statement dog was awful. His name was Gerber Siemens and he was a rescue turned like nobody else is going to take this dog. And he was like, in love with my wife, but no one else. Oh.
Sharon Cline: [00:11:39] She thinks it’s the greatest dog.
Chris Civello: [00:11:41] I think it’s the worst. And here’s a little Japanese chin. And he was so mean. Oh, no. But he. We took him to Florida because he was on his last legs and we stopped in Savannah just on a whim. You know, Lorrie, my wife was like, Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit and had, like, this love affair with Savannah. Came back. We’re like, we should come and stay this time and stayed. We loved it even more. But then like I have two very young boys and I didn’t think it was like the best place to bring them up. It was more city. Like, I wanted more, you know, like where I’m at now. And then we would joke around. We’re like, All right, you know, we love Savannah. Maybe it’s not the right place, but we love Georgia. Maybe that’s the common denominator. So we would like poke around and watch videos on towns and, and, but I had just opened a new school, so we were like, All right, we’ll make like a five year plan kind of thing maybe, and see how it goes. And then I was like, We just got shot out of a cannon and I landed in Woodstock. And even with the house, like nothing was a coincidence, I really feel like I need to be here for some reason because, you know, the market’s still going crazy. And I call the realtor and, you know, what about this house? What about that house? And she’s like, sold. Sold under contract? Nope. 5 minutes ago, 2 minutes to early, 2 minutes to late, you know, and this one particular house was on the market for three months. It was like it was waiting for us, you know. And as soon as we chose that house, everything fell into place. And it’s it’s unique because it had a third garage port. And that garage port is really kind of what. Got me sitting here today.
Sharon Cline: [00:13:29] No kidding. How did that.
Chris Civello: [00:13:30] Happen? To my knowledge, there’s only two houses in my neighborhood with that third garage port, and that’s the one that I ultimately turned into a school. And at first I was going to be like, I’m going to set up my own private training thing. I’ll train with my kids. And then two months in, it was like, you know, I just wanted to teach. I didn’t want to do a school again. It was really bummed out about the whole thing. And no one would no one would take me, you know, they were in the same situation.
Sharon Cline: [00:14:01] But I think that’s a really good point, is that here you were trying to establish kind of a new life and that you have I don’t know if PTSD is the right word, but like justifiable fears of.
Chris Civello: [00:14:14] Oh, yeah.
Sharon Cline: [00:14:14] Of what? That what happened to you?
Chris Civello: [00:14:17] I legitimately wanted to to like stock boxes. I thought it would just be easier. You know, I definitely get paid more and consistent work.
Sharon Cline: [00:14:28] There are always going to be boxes.
Chris Civello: [00:14:30] Benefits and benefits and benefits I did in a. You know, I was like, oh, let’s see what happens. And finally again, we had to talk like, you know, my wife was like, you need to, you know, what are we doing here? So I’m like, All right. So I put out a post on Cherokee Connect, Josh Bagby, what a nice guy and what a great service that he provides. And I remember I explained my situation reluctantly because I was very embarrassed about the whole thing. And I just asked. I was like, you know, if anyone wants to train with me, like, you know, be doing this.
Sharon Cline: [00:15:09] Come coming to my guys.
Chris Civello: [00:15:10] Come to my garage and and then yeah, we got like two, two students and they brought two friends and then, you know, and all of a sudden I was like, you know, can we fit anyone? Everyone in the driveway. I had people parking up, like at the North Pole. Oh, no. Like walking down to my house. It was getting, like, crazy. And my neighbors were so nice and graceful about the whole thing.
Sharon Cline: [00:15:36] And that’s nice. That’s a gift.
Chris Civello: [00:15:38] Yeah. So. And then it just snowballed, like, out of control.
Sharon Cline: [00:15:43] So you haven’t done any other advertising other than on Cherokee Connect?
Chris Civello: [00:15:48] Maybe 100 bucks on Facebook. Maybe. Maybe.
Sharon Cline: [00:15:53] Well, I mean, that says a lot about social media and the power of social media.
Chris Civello: [00:15:57] I think it’s being authentic. I’ve learned that a lot from being here. Just like a. Just putting it out there, you know, being yourself. You know, if.
Sharon Cline: [00:16:09] You are just joining us, we are speaking to Chris Sevilla. He is the. Is it a studio dojo? What do you call it?
Chris Civello: [00:16:18] I call it an academy.
Sharon Cline: [00:16:19] It’s an academy.
Chris Civello: [00:16:20] It’s higher learning.
Sharon Cline: [00:16:23] That’s true, because it applies to lots of different ways to learn. But Sakura Jujitsu Academy of Woodstock. I wanted to ask you to do you what do you think is your what has been the hardest thing to overcome regarding, you know, its fearless formula? So so what are the things that you’ve sort of been like? I’m terrified, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Chris Civello: [00:16:45] Oh.
Sharon Cline: [00:16:47] It’s a big question. And I know you kind of answered it already by just even having faith enough to open to open up your studio.
Chris Civello: [00:16:53] There’s pieces. Like. I remember one conversation was about me, like needing to get out of bed because my family needed me. That was tough. And. And you just like you bite the bullet and you get up and you got people that take care of you. You know, it’s not you know, I couldn’t sit there feeling sorry for myself. I had to get up and then. The second thing was to get out of my own way and ask for help. I’m learning, you know, it’s so hard. I’m such a prideful, like, stubborn person. Me, too.
Sharon Cline: [00:17:32] It was like my soul brother. I feel the same way. It’s very hard for me to ask for help. Very. I understand that notion.
Chris Civello: [00:17:38] So that was. That was tough. That’s still tough. And I’m getting better at it because, again, ultimately, it’s for my kids, you know, at this point.
Sharon Cline: [00:17:46] But, you know, what I love is that you’re talking about love. That’s what really supported your decisions. To get up and go and keep trying is because for the love of your family and to be a provider, I guess.
Chris Civello: [00:17:57] Oh, you know, that’s the biggest thing.
Sharon Cline: [00:18:00] Well, how did you get from your garage to your studio now?
Chris Civello: [00:18:05] Just, you know, a lot of talk sitting down and scoping everything out. And then you.
Sharon Cline: [00:18:12] Knew you needed it because you had so many people on the street.
Chris Civello: [00:18:15] Yeah, it was getting unsustainable in the house. And I mean, it was only a matter of time until someone did get annoyed that someone was parked in the wrong place or. And rightfully so, you know, and. Yeah. Just kind of. It’s just all these odd coincidences. I literally sit in the school sometimes by myself, and I’m just like, Oh, man, how did this how is this happening? Like. And then I’ll drive home and all the license plates are different. It’s still it’s still like a it can be tough some days, you know, I came here, I didn’t know anybody. We didn’t even see our house, like.
Sharon Cline: [00:18:52] Yeah, wow. That’s ultimate faith, isn’t it? House?
Chris Civello: [00:18:55] Yeah. Lori’s parents were looking for us, and they were like, you’re. You’re going to like this one. You’re going to like it here. You’re just like, Okay, here we come.
Sharon Cline: [00:19:03] Do you miss home or do you consider it still home?
Chris Civello: [00:19:06] New Jersey? No. I feel like I found home here. I didn’t think I fit up there. No matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t a good fit.
Sharon Cline: [00:19:16] So. But you feel like you fit here?
Chris Civello: [00:19:18] I do. Yeah. Some. Some some woman I never met, she. She commented on one of the posts I made, and she said, Welcome home. And I thought it was so nice.
Sharon Cline: [00:19:28] That’s so.
Chris Civello: [00:19:29] Kind. Yeah. I was like, yeah, I’m home. But don’t you.
Sharon Cline: [00:19:34] Think there’s just some like, there feels like there is a. Someone looking out for you when things just seem to fall into place and you don’t have to fight so hard? I don’t know. I try to make things fit sometimes that just won’t. And it’s very hard to give up because I really want something to happen and it just won’t. But when you have an experience where something just just gets put into your lap and is so like, wait a minute, what? I feel like that way about this show where I’m like, they haven’t pulled me out of here. Like, I’m allowed to be in the studio. Right. How did that happen? I have no idea how that happened. It’s just crazy. But there’s, like a feeling of peace about it, don’t you think?
Chris Civello: [00:20:11] Yeah. There’s a comedian turn like a life coach. His name is Kyle Smith.
Sharon Cline: [00:20:18] I haven’t heard of him. I’ll look.
Chris Civello: [00:20:19] Him up. I remember he was talking about, you know, when you hear something and it just downloads in your brain forever. He was talking about how everybody wants to leave it up to the universe or God or whatever you believe, and then they won’t let go of the wheel, you know, and how you should just sit in the passenger seat. You know, so I’ve been trying to do that. And it literally feels like a roller coaster. But it’s scary. But it is.
Sharon Cline: [00:20:47] But you’re doing it anyway.
Chris Civello: [00:20:48] Yeah, yeah. You got to believe in the path, I think.
Sharon Cline: [00:20:53] Well, do you. Have you found any surprises? Things that happen where you’re like, Hmm, I had no idea that was going to happen.
Chris Civello: [00:20:59] Like throughout the whole time. Yeah. Oh, so many. So many. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
Sharon Cline: [00:21:08] Maybe even being here in the studio is a surprise because I kind of found you randomly.
Chris Civello: [00:21:12] Yeah, but that’s the thing. Is it random? You know, it’s like there’s too many coincidences at this point for me to say that, like, now I’m just I’m in the passenger seat. I’m like, no, I’m supposed to meet you. We’ll see why, you know, you know, so true.
Sharon Cline: [00:21:27] Are there any things that you’re not afraid of anymore, given your experience that you’ve been through?
Chris Civello: [00:21:33] I think it’s worse. You’re. You’re more afraid. Yeah.
Sharon Cline: [00:21:38] Tell me.
Chris Civello: [00:21:38] Why. My kids have changed everything. And even being married. All of it. It’s changed everything. I have people counting on me. And another quote that I’ve heard recently that I logged was Every man has two lives. And the second one starts when you realize you only have one. And that’s where I’m at. So I’ve realized that, like, I got to get everything together in an order. I have people counting on me, and, you know, I can’t. I could write a book about my life. It’s been nuts.
Sharon Cline: [00:22:10] But do you need an audiobook? Narrator I’d be happy.
Chris Civello: [00:22:13] To do it for you.
Sharon Cline: [00:22:15] That’s a shameless plug. I just didn’t know it should be you. It should be you in your voice telling the story. But, you know, that’s actually very interesting because so many people think that they’ve gone through a scenario that they’ve kind of come through the other side and they’re like, Well, I’ve survived it. I can survive if I survive it once, I can survive it again. But sometimes just the notion of surviving at once, you never want to go through it again. Like just getting through it once was plenty.
Chris Civello: [00:22:40] I think that’s the success of everything for me. When I fought, I wasn’t like walking out like the toughest guy. I would get it done in round one because I was terrified, you know, it was total opposite. I had my goals and, you know, I put myself in that situation. But, you know, I was just scared. And then with this, like, I never want to go through that again. And, you know, with mistakes, I had nothing. I mean, it’s so hard to say what would have been better. You know, I had no money saved. I’m a very black and white, all in or all out person. All my money went into the new school. Nothing was left, you know? And but then I have friends that had $120,000 in safety accounts and they blew through it in two months. So, you know, who knows?
Sharon Cline: [00:23:32] I love I think I was just so important as not that we’re finished, but just as a take away from this is just that even the best laid plans can can still not work under the best scenario, it can still not work. But then look at yours, which could seemingly have been not a great scenario. And now it’s it’s like done so well. How many students do you have?
Chris Civello: [00:23:51] Oh, we’re closing in on 100. I’m so close. And that’s in five months. And then my original school, I had 38 students for almost six years. I couldn’t break through that wall. So. So, again, I’m terrified. And that’s why it’s doing so well, because I’m working so hard. You know, people think thing that happens when people say, Oh, man, you got back to me so fast. And I’m like and they’re like, you know, if you have to go be with your kids, I’m like, listen, I am working 24 hours a day as a small business owner.
Sharon Cline: [00:24:26] Right? That’s what you.
Chris Civello: [00:24:27] Do. Yeah. So, you know, no stone left unturned, kind of.
Sharon Cline: [00:24:32] I always think when I get hired to do a voiceover, like, I respond right away before they change their mind. Like we don’t listen to anybody else. Did we sign a contract?
Chris Civello: [00:24:39] Good. And then hang up? Yeah.
Sharon Cline: [00:24:42] I know. I think it’s it’s such an interesting notion that fear can be so motivating. It doesn’t have to be something that holds you back, right?
Chris Civello: [00:24:50] Yeah. No, absolutely. And I’m trying to sift through that, I guess, as I get older is I don’t think like I used to think it had to be like everything was a test and I had to get through it and like there was no happiness unless you suffered. And like, and it was proving myself that I was worthy of happiness through through that kind of process. And I don’t think that’s true at all. I think you could just be happy, you know, and you can, you know, you can have emotions and it’s okay to be terrified. And I say that like hiding under the blankets, terrified as an adult man. But but the difference is like doing it anyway. And I think that’s always the big deciding factor. Everyone has the same feelings, but it’s who who walks through the door.
Sharon Cline: [00:25:38] So if someone out there is listening who’s gone through a difficulty like you have with their business, what would you recommend for them? And I know each business is different. Right. But but in general, some words of wisdom that you could offer for them.
Chris Civello: [00:25:52] I think like. The planning. Planning. And just taking that first step, you know, just that one step. And that’s the hardest one, right? That’s how my fliers like the the the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, you know, and a. That that one step, you know, we took a step just to move and take a chance. And, I mean, we had nothing else to lose. Oh, my goodness. It turned into this, like, beautiful, amazing thing. And which, you know, I used to tell a very different perspective of the story. You know, it’s like it’s turned into such a great thing, even with the news it gave, like the news clip, like, kind of gave me closure. You know, people were like, Oh, didn’t you know, there’s so many people call and you got so much press. And I’m like, For me, it wasn’t about that at all.
Sharon Cline: [00:26:43] And you were on 11 alive, right?
Chris Civello: [00:26:45] Yeah. Yeah. And with Caitlin Ross here is like so nice and I’m so grateful to her for, you know, contacting me. I thought it was great. And yeah, it helped me like, you know, getting you got to get through that stuff personally, I think to take the first step, you know.
Sharon Cline: [00:27:05] So what do you think is the most satisfying of what you do? Like what? Not just providing for your family? I just mean sort of like at your every day. Is there a moment where you find it, wow, this is what I do this for this this moment or this feeling?
Chris Civello: [00:27:22] I think my favorite thing is like texting my wife pictures of these like 20 people classes, you know? And I’m just like, I did it. Like, can you believe it? Because I feel like, you know, it’s it’s trusting me, you know, trusting me that even, like. Like if it gets sticky, like, you know, I’ll be there. You know, that makes me happy. Like.
Sharon Cline: [00:27:46] Maybe you have an appreciation for it in a way that you didn’t before because you lost it, I guess. Is that a terrible thing? Wait, did I say that right? Sometimes I say things without thinking. I apologize if I made it sound bad.
Chris Civello: [00:27:57] Yeah. No, I think. For sure. I mean. The students, you know, not that I didn’t appreciate them, but now it’s like it’s so cut and dry like these. Like everything I do every time I take a dollar out of my pocket, like whether it’s to eat or buy clothes or. Go somewhere like one of my students is providing them, like and that’s it. Like, there’s no, there’s no other way, you know, I don’t have like, these side hustles and I mean, this is like I am all in with this. So I mean, to not meet that person with, like, the deepest respect and grace and, you know, I think I just like. Understand it a little deeper now, you know, and I try to. Make sure that they know that how much it’s appreciated because you know that no book or that cupcake or that Snapple, I mean, however you want to look at it, I mean, that electric bill like that, a student paid for that like in some way, you know. So I tried to treat them like, you know, like my family, like the most important people in my life because, I mean, they were my life, you know, they what makes my pulse, you know, that’s what makes everything else possible. You know.
Sharon Cline: [00:29:22] If you could go back to before you went through this in New Jersey and lost your studio, what would you want to tell yourself if could you tell yourself something that would give you something? What would you want to know back then that you know now.
Chris Civello: [00:29:39] I think. I think there is definitely a. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think there was definitely a selfishness in ways because I was still competing like actively. And I could see the difference. Like the attention that I’m spending on the school now is. Not vastly different, but different than it was when I was training and competing and fighting and whatnot full time and trying to do the school full time. And there was definitely clashing that I remember now that I look back. So now it’s like the school has like 100% attention and I mean, the results speak for themselves.
Sharon Cline: [00:30:32] Do you feel like you’re all in in a different way than you were then?
Chris Civello: [00:30:35] That’s a good way to put it. Yeah, definitely. And a. Just a different respect for it. You know, I had to work so hard to to do it. You know, it’s. It’s just an all encompassing kind of thing.
Sharon Cline: [00:30:52] Yeah, but I think that I appreciate that as well because I think anything handed to me without having sort of really worked for it or, or sacrificed in some way for it, I don’t know that it’s as sweet as when you really have, like, wanted something so badly. And if it didn’t work and you change things around and there’s just something. Joyful. I guess there’s like a true joy and gratitude that probably carries over, I would imagine, into the way you interact with everyone. And I don’t know it is.
Chris Civello: [00:31:25] I think there’s joy in the work now and again. Not that there wasn’t. It’s just different, you know, like I try not to look at it as like, you know, I’m going to suffer for the next two years and and then, you know, like, it’s happening and it’s happening fast because I’m working hard and I’m working hard because I enjoy doing it and it’s different. I don’t feel like I need to like, you know, grind it out and be so sad about everything and, you know, talk about the hustle. And, you know, I’m just not interested anymore. I want my life to be like a lake, like, not an ocean anymore, you know, like. Like I.
Sharon Cline: [00:32:03] Like it, like, sound like a little cabin on the side. It sounds so peaceful.
Chris Civello: [00:32:08] It is. I’m done. You know, I’m done. I just want to be happy now. Well, I love.
Sharon Cline: [00:32:13] I love that, though, because it is a bit of a hustle. I mean, you’re competing with other I’m sure, other studios or academies. And I mean, you can look at it like that. But I think that there’s just something. So I love I love what you said about being peaceful and no matter what, because that’s what I’m I think I’m looking for as well in my life. And so I think this this radio shows a little self serving for for myself.
Chris Civello: [00:32:35] That’s okay.
Sharon Cline: [00:32:35] So self serving for myself that’s so articulate. But I mean, I’m trying to find those similar things and I’m trying to not be so afraid of things. And so when I’m interviewing other people like you and I’m trying to absorb and and use the words of wisdom that you have for my own life. And so but hopefully other people are too. It’s not just for me, but yeah, I like that idea of I just want to be happy and not because really, what can you control? You can control yourself, right?
Chris Civello: [00:33:05] Yeah. And I think it’s I just had a conversation with a student a couple of nights ago. He was he just hit like a personal best with his weight lifting, you know. And I was so happy for him because, like, he worked so hard, you know, and he was like, yeah, my, my dad was there. And he was just like, come on, come on, you can do it. And he’s like, and then it just went up like it was nothing. And I was like, Isn’t it funny how if somebody gives you permission to succeed, you can do it? And I said, I’m like, I’m like, Imagine if you gave yourself permission to succeed. I’m like, You’d be unstoppable. And I think, like, lately, I’m just giving my self permission to be happy and to succeed. And, and, I mean, you know, even when you said there’s competition. Not anymore. Like, I don’t know who’s around. I don’t know who’s teaching. It’s none of my business. You know, it’s none of my business. And I mean that so sincerely. Like, I just. I just. Worrying about myself. That’s helped. You know, I don’t know. My mind scattered on what everybody else is doing and whatnot.
Sharon Cline: [00:34:11] We only have so much energy, right?
Chris Civello: [00:34:13] Yeah. And my kids take all that.
Sharon Cline: [00:34:17] That probably won’t end for a few minutes.
Chris Civello: [00:34:19] Yeah. So, you know, they’re just become such a huge focus. And my wife, too, like, you know, everybody always talks about their kids. If it wasn’t for her. I mean, she. She gave me these beautiful beings, and I always thought of them. You know, I get this person in my life and there’s always these moments of like, I can’t love this person anymore. And then then we got married and I was like, man was like, there’s more, you know? And then you’re married and you’re like, I can’t love this person anymore. And then you have kids and you’re like, Wow. Like, so now we’re at this point, you know? I’m like, man, there can’t be anymore. I mean, it’s it’s intense and I love it. You know, it’s all of it, like, and it’s taken precedence over all the other stuff, you know, not not saying fighting is negative. Like, I love fighting, but no one wants to see the 44 year old out there fighting, you know, so things need to change. And and, you know, priorities change and shift. And and now, you know, maybe just because of my my little family, I have, you know, now we I’m pushing harder and and more focused and more intense, you know.
Sharon Cline: [00:35:33] Well, if they wanted to anyone out there listening wanted to get in touch with you, how can they do that? What’s the best.
Chris Civello: [00:35:37] Way? My website’s WW WW Saket you are a B JJ dot com or you can email me at sakara b j j at gmail.
Sharon Cline: [00:35:51] Bj What is b j j.
Chris Civello: [00:35:53] It’s a Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Sharon Cline: [00:35:54] Oh, it’s Brazilian. I don’t know why I thought it was Japanese. Look what I know. I’m so glad you’re teaching and.
Chris Civello: [00:35:59] I’m not teaching. I have a judo pedigree as well. And. I’m not Brazilian, so I always, you know, I just always steered more towards that. That’s the sauce, you know. So I thought it was fitting for the for the school.
Sharon Cline: [00:36:16] Well, I’m so excited that you came in to share your story. I just loved pretty much everything about kind of going through something so challenging and then coming out the other side, but even better than before. Sometimes I feel like the things that I go through, I’m not grateful for at all. But in this case, I would be like, Wow, maybe. Maybe it was something that really actually brought you to this moment in such a shining way, if that makes sense.
Chris Civello: [00:36:42] No, it does. I think I think as well I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately. I feel like being grateful slows things down. And, you know, I feel like if you don’t take the moments to think about those things, like it’s going to fly by and you can’t even remember, you know? So every day I try to sit with my little ones and I’m like, All right, what are we grateful for today? And then it seems like I can stay in the moment longer, you know?
Sharon Cline: [00:37:10] You appreciate the moments. Yeah. You don’t get upset when time goes by and you’re like, What happened?
Chris Civello: [00:37:15] Yeah.
Sharon Cline: [00:37:16] It’s like being mindful, being mindful of where you are. And I think anybody having an attitude of gratitude has a source of or has access to a happiness that it’s easy to to, I guess, look, look beyond or think about other things. But when you have that gratitude, there just feels like you’re on a different little level of my life. You know, I’m trying to do the same thing every day. Like, I just looked through my calendar and thought the same thing. Oh, my gosh, sorry. August, almost September. And like, what did I do this year? And I was looking back at my calendar and I was like, Oh, yeah, yeah. So there is something kind of nice about not not looking through life with regret because you didn’t appreciate the moments you were given.
Chris Civello: [00:37:57] Yeah, it slows it down. It makes it, like, more manageable.
Sharon Cline: [00:38:01] Well, Chris, I just thank you so much for coming and spending time and giving me some good words of wisdom and things to think about as I leave. And all of you out there, thank you so much for joining us on Fearless Formula. And again, this is Sharon Klein. And I’m reminding you with words of wisdom and with understanding, we can all have a fearless formula. Have a great day.