Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On December - 10 - 2013

I have heard on many occasions, “I would do karate but I am not in good enough shape.”

The statement is flawed. Karate is about getting into shape. Yes there are physical demands that are placed on you during training but you only can do what your body will allow you to do.  As an instructor, I will push an able-bodied student to their limits but what if the student is not able-bodied? They can still be pushed to their limits just their limit will be different than others. New instructors have to come to realize this and learn to adjust their training.

Today, I seen the following video shared on Facebook by IKD Shihan Josef Woon-A-Tai. It is a video from an IKD Dojo in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Sensei Chris Troch operates the dojo and teaches a class to students with physical disabilities. These students are confined to wheelchairs.

Sensei Troch has captured the true meaning of karate. A meaning that so many people don’t understand. Self-defense is not about those that are able. It is about those that can not protect themselves. It is about the young man who is afraid to stand in front of a class and speak. It is about the young girl who just can’t bring herself to talking to people. This alienation leads to bullying. Then there are those, like in this video, that suffer from disabilities. I like Sensei Troch’s quote, “don’t look at it like a disability, look at it as a different ability!”

There are martial artist all around the World that suffer from disabilities. For example, Lydia Zijdel has black belt ranks in both Aikido and Shuri Ryu Karate. Lydia is an inspiration to many martial artist around the World. I first learned about her last year when I purchased a book for my wife for Christmas. The book was titled Women in the Martial Arts and it featured a story on Lydia. In the early 80’s, she was in a car accident and was confined to a wheel chair. Lydia didn’t let this stop her. She studied psychotherapy and social science (MA’s disability, social and community and gender studies) at the Universities of Amsterdam, Leeds and Leicester. Lydia is the highest ranked female wheelchair martial artist in the world holding a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Aikido and 3rd Degree Black Belt in Shuri Ryu Karate. Lydia competed in various all style martial arts tournaments (against non-disabled opponents only) and was gold and silver medalist.

Think of the times that you just didn’t want to go and train because you were tired or had a sore muscle. What excuses could you make that would match these students? Personally, I have suffered from a knee injury for over a year. I have fought through the injury to test for my Yondan and competed at the IKD 2013 Canada Cup. My struggle was nothing compared to these students.

If you are able-bodied but perhaps suffer from some minor injury or you are not in great physical shape don’t think karate is not for you. If you are older and think that your body will not stand up to the physical demand of training think again. Or if you are confined to a wheelchair or have a disability that you think is holding you back, it doesn’t have to. Karate is adapted for your personal needs. There is always room for you in a dojo. Speak to the instructors, explain your physical capabilities and they will work with you to adapt the training to your abilities.

Karate is about breaking barriers! Break through yours today!

Categories: Teaching/Training

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