TOWAMENCIN – During the day, Mr. Jerome Bouchet teaches his students just like any teacher would. Unlike most teachers in the building, Boucher has a second set of students. These students are in a martial arts gym.
“Yes, I teach it. Love it. Last night we taught stick fighting. Tomorrow night I’ll be judging a tournament and next week I’ll be kickboxing in the ring,” Boucher said.
How could a biochemist who teaches biology and chemistry also have martial arts training? For Boucher, he gained a lot of martial arts training because of his parents and grew to love them.
“My parents signed me up for martial arts when I was 5, you know half of America was doing taekwondo as a kid and everything. I actually loved it. But then it didn’t help me. They always say you have confidence when you can defend yourself, but I couldn’t,” Boucher explained, “When the kids’ taekwondo class didn’t work out, I started trying to look up what martial arts did. I continued with that and now I’ve been in martial arts for 32 years and I’ve gotten into real fighting stuff like the stuff the Israeli army does, kickboxing, competitions and all the rest of MMA.”
Boucher soon realized that the training he had in the martial arts field was too extensive to teach only to teenagers. Unlike what he does in high school, Boucher teaches all ages, experience levels and job types.
“The police and the military have jobs that involve a lot of things that I can’t do at all. I’m not a soldier or a cop and never have been, but one aspect of their work I’ve devoted 35 years of my life to studying. So you know that one aspect of defending yourself, fighting somebody, stopping somebody, I can help them with that and that’s what I’ve done,” Boucher explained.
With an eclectic array of people he comes in contact with through working at the gym, Boucher must be able to accommodate and provide for anyone who walks in.
“I think that’s another thing that’s a lot of fun. It’s really different and I have to adapt it. You know, if I’m doing self-defense with you and a bunch of your friends, it’s a lot different than if I’m working with police officers because they have a different goal,” Boucher explained.
Along with working with many different people, Boucher can work in many different environments. Even on his own, camping and outdoor survival are his favorite activities when school is out.
“It’s cool if you can go out and do what you need to survive and be out there by yourself for a week. This is great. And I still try to organize at least one solo trip every year and then every year me and my dad try to take a canoe trip. My dad is 73 and still gets in the canoe and pitches tents. This is really great. But yeah, I’ll go out and it’s been fun because I’ve never been lonely. I can be there for weeks and not feel lonely and just enjoy myself,” Boucher said.
The person in Boucher’s life who ignited his love of the outdoors was his father. Boucher explained how he wouldn’t have become so passionate about camping if it weren’t for him.
My father, I respect him a lot. I have a great life and I’ve been lucky. I have two really good parents with love and respect and not everyone is that lucky. So I’m really, really grateful for that.”
-Mr. Jeremy Boucher
“My father, I respect a lot. I have a great life and I’ve been lucky. I have two really good parents with love and respect and not everyone is that lucky. So I’m really, really grateful for that. My father only had one person in his entire life who he said was a real true friend. This gentleman actually worked in Alaska with Eskimos,” Boucher said.
Because Bucer respected his father so much, he wanted to meet anyone who was close to him, even if they were miles away.
“I turned 18, I graduated high school, and I actually called him and said, “Hey, can I come over?” I wanted to meet the man that my father respected. I respect my father. I wanted to meet someone he respects. So I basically volunteered to go up there and work for them for the summer and I just went to live there. I saved money, took a flight, got on and ended up staying there. It was great,” Boucher said.
Boucher’s experience in Alaska working with Eskimos made him realize the importance of taking advantage of every chance you get to have an adventure.
“Do something if you’re going to take a gap year. Do something and go on an adventure. People a lot of times look at me like “What a life you’ve lived” or “How many crazy things you’ve done?” or “You tell all these stories in class” and like, the truth is not much. I have not done anything. I deeply regret all the opportunities I missed or was afraid to take,” Boucher explained.
If there’s one takeaway from his experiences, it’s that you should be adventurous and try not to miss something you might regret.
“You will never experience anything like this again. You know what I mean? You will never regret it. You’ll never look back and say, ‘Oh man, I can’t believe I had that adventure, that was badass,'” Boucher said.