I love martial arts. It’s the perfect complement to strength training.

The most intense and rewarding fight training I’ve experienced was at a Krav Maga school in New York City.

I’ll spare you any contrived tough-guy war stories because this story isn’t about fighting or training or even me.

It’s about my friend Charlie.

I was the strongest and most “jacked” guy in class but always the worst fighter, especially when the black belts showed up to work on fundamentals and tune up some white & yellow belts.

Actually I was the second-worst. Last place was Charlie.

Charlie was in his 50s, not strong, definitely not athletic, and easily frustrated.

But he showed up. And even though he’d curse and throw up his hands, he NEVER left the mat until class was done.

I grew to admire him. His awkward punches, off balance kicks, the many missed blocks, the growing frustration from the instructors.

Finally I struck up a conversation — it seemed fitting the two worst guys should meet — but what I really wanted was to know why?

Why was he here? Why put himself through this to get fit? Why not do something less demanding?

It turns out he was already in the fight of his life.

He’s a former finance guy but off work for years.

Ever since that warm September morning when for some still unknown reason he decided to leave his office in the North tower of the World Trade Center and go for a walk.

Right before a plane struck and changed his life forever.

Since that day Charlie hasn’t been able to work much, certainly not in lower Manhattan.

So he does what he can, where he can. But it’s a fight from the moment he wakes up til he closes his eyes. Every day.

The fighting WE shared, as hard as it was for us, was easy by comparison. The class always ends, we bow to our opponent and leave as friends.

Nothing like the evil that sucker punched him 22 years ago and hasn’t let up since.

The worst fighter in class. Trading strikes with a foe I can’t begin to comprehend.

His fight is still too close to call.

But I’m pulling for Charlie.

– Bryan