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Chiquito spends his free time practicing martial arts, drawing and listening to music. He manages to train in Jiu-jitsu at Yucca Valley Jiu-jitsu Gym almost every day and still finds time to improve upon his other hobbies. (Official Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Levi Schultz/Released)

Photo by Pfc. Levi Schultz

What I've Learned: Mike Chiquito

10 Aug 2015 | Pfc. Levi Schultz Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Chiquito spends his free time practicing martial arts, drawing and listening to music. He manages to train in Jiu-jitsu at Yucca Valley Jiu-jitsu Gym almost every day and still finds time to improve upon his other hobbies.

I came from New Jersey so coming to Twentynine Palms has been a big transition from the east coast.

I’ve been in the Marine Corps for almost three years now.

I hold the title of ‘Marine’ close and I feel that it is a part of me now. All the time and work I have spent here and the people I have met have made it that way.

For me, being a Marine means continuing to dig for that extra bit to expand from where you started. Instead of saying, “I’m a good Marine,” I can show you I’m a good Marine.

I grew up in a small town, Passaic, New Jersey, with my two sisters. I am the only one in my family who has served in the military.

I’ve been working since I was a sophomore in high school. After I graduated, I wasn’t ready to go to college so I worked for a couple of years.

The first time a recruiter came to me, I turned him down and threw away his card. It was only a few months later I realized I had gotten complacent with my job. I needed a change, so I joined the Marine Corps.

I’ve always had an interest in martial arts. As a kid I would watch Power Rangers and action movies.

When I was growing up, I had a friend who was taking karate lessons. I didn’t have the money to take lessons so it turned into him going to karate and coming back the next day to show me what he learned.

Once I started making money I began going to school for karate. Eventually I moved on to Muay Thai, until high school when I moved on to sports like wrestling. I was always into the world of fighting but I could never afford to do it until now.

After I got here, a friend and I began going outside every other day to train.

I’ve developed a love for the people and the sport of fighting. There is that feeling of competition and camaraderie and when the fight is over you shake hands out of mutual respect.

My best memories while practicing martial arts come from the people. No one I’ve ever met has been full of themselves to the point they refuse to shake my hand at the end of a fight.

It really is a community of fighters and not how Television can make it out to be. It is actually a very nurturing environment where you grow together and that’s the best experience I have from it.

I don’t have a role model in the fighting world because I have my own style. The closest thing I have is Diego Sanchez because when he fights he gets wild, but at the end of the day he never forgets to shake someone’s hand.

My friend and I talk about trying to get into professional fighting all the time. Martial arts has become a big part of my life, and before I decide to do anything else I want to give myself about two years of experience in amateur fights before I advance to anything else.

My favorite position to fight from is the standing because I can do takedowns and stay on my feet well. I’m a passive fighter and will often wait out my opponent to see how they are going to move before I decide what I’m going to do.

I’ve learned so much about myself and I don’t think that I would be who I am without martial arts. It’s taught me to think about my actions, stay fit and always work to achieve higher goals.

The metaphor “one step forward, two steps back” never applies to me. I’m always moving forward and becoming better.

I started at Yucca Valley Jiu-jitsu because my friend and I were just looking for a place to spar and have fun. We started coming every single day and now it’s become just another family.

The closest bond I have is with friends who I’ve met through martial arts. Even outside the gym we spend time together and when we go over to each other’s house we bring a mat. It’s become how we talk and understand one another.

When I’m looking for a big change of pace from fighting I like to draw.

In first grade there was a cocky kid who could draw Dragon Ball Z characters and that was pretty impressive. I took it upon myself to try to beat him but I couldn’t draw so I started tracing pictures. We would race to see who could finish an image first, until he moved away in third grade. I have been drawing ever since.

I went from tracing paper to drawing Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon cards to drawing people, sculptures and paintings by Picasso. Often I would go online to find pictures of statues and monuments to draw.

In high school I got more into art with self-portraits, computer design, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and using different mediums like paint, ebony, chalk, charcoal, pastels and water coloring. I experimented with everything I could get my hands on.

Drawing is something that has essentially been following me since I was a kid.

I don’t see someone and think that I have to beat them. When I see someone who is better than me, I have to try my best to see if I can beat them. If I can’t beat them after that then I can only move forward.

I love being able to know how I work and that I can achieve higher if I just try. Doing these things I enjoy have helped me to be open to learning new things and believe in myself more.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms