At the end of most Karate classes…I like to say what’s on my mind. Give a small speech to the students about something that’s popped into my mind during the session, the day or the week. It might be something to do with current news events, training, and sometimes just life in general. I do try and keep it topical and relevant…but you know…my mind wanders at times.
This week I spoke to the class about the importance of competing. In our style of Karate, I really don’t think you can say that you are a Kyokushin exponent unless at some point you have fought full contact. I understand the juniors to some extent as its not just theirs (and most of them want to) but their parents choice. The adults however…there can really be no excuse. Nope…none. I do understand that it may be a scary thing for some….but in reality that fear needs to be faced. If not….then perhaps Kyokushin isn’t the style for you.
In reality it’s not all about the fighting, although it does give all your training a new perspective. The fighting doesn’t instantly make you tougher or better, but what does is all the training you then do in preparation. It’s about the overcoming of that fear holding you back. Going through the nerves and the times you want to back out. It’s about the people in your corner and support of your team. It’s about the humility in loss and the confidence garnered through victory. The lesson lies in pushing yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone. So….if there is all this to gain how can there be a real excuse not to do it. What motivation or inspiration could you need ?
I recounted how at the tournament we travelled to in Griffith last year, that a student was competing in his wheel chair. And then…how a video had recently been shared on facebook showing a male that had lost the use of his legs…get onto the competition mats to compete in BJJ. His team mates basically helped him out of his wheelchair and onto the arena. Amazing and inspiring stories. There’s loads of those type of stories around on the internet if you choose to look.
And it’s not just Martial Arts. Most people have seen the Paralympics, I’ve seen videos of Crossfit competitors with missing arms and legs, and all manner of inspirational movies of disabled people achieving what some able bodied people can’t. In the end I think it all comes down to how much you ‘want’ to be able to do something. And if the will is enough – you will find a way.
What is better than watching a video, or hearing a story about someone though, is seeing it in person. I’ve asked permission from this member of our dojo to share his story briefly and I am so glad that he said yes.
Not everyone knows or has met Tailem. He’s a quiet kind of guy. He joined our Kickboxing class a little under a year ago and then a bit later found his way into the BJJ class. At his first class I noticed that he had a large build, and initially I thought he was perhaps an ex gymnast. Then of course…me being me…I just asked. It was probably something like….” Hey…what do you weigh…You look pretty big….and do you lift ? ” I wasn’t rude…just matter of fact. That’s when I found out that Tailem was a Powerlifter. I had also noticed something else…..but didn’t really get a chance to talk to him on his own that first class.
I later asked him about his hand , and the fact that he had difficulty putting on the left glove. I had seen something like that in a hand before….in my stepfather after he had a stroke many years ago. I was taken aback when Tailem explained his situation. Immediately he had my respect. You see…..Most people would come into the dojo and make excuses straight away for something like that. I hear stuff all the time (and I’m not putting anyone down…it’s just for comparison) like..Oh my leg is sore today. Or ….two years ago I fell off my bike and have a sore back so I ‘m not sure I can do everything or even I play the sax so I can’t punch without gloves and wraps in case I hurt my hand. But this guy walks in….sais nothing about his dis-ability and just trains.
There are those I am sure that have looked at Tailem’s physique and assumed he’s “on the juice” etc. What they don’t know however is firstly that he is not. That’s a whole lot of time at the gym and chocolate thick shakes ! Secondly that they are looking at someone who at the age of 9 years old, suffered a brain abscess that caused the left side of his body to be paralysed. Only through countless hours of dedication to rehabilitation as a child, visits to hospitals, doctors, physio and chiropractors, and time and patience of his parents did Tailem regain the use of his left side to the point where he surpassed what was originally diagnosed as possible.
Obviously the limits and disadvantages that this placed on Tailem as a young boy was difficult. Sport just didn’t come as easy and there were feelings of inadequacy surrounding his appearance which is difficult enough for most people already. Not feeling comfortable or able to be as active this then led to weight gain…and from there the spiral into an eating disorder. Then….Tailem discovered the gym and found a way to build himself into the strong and capable man he is today.
Since then….Tailem went on to hold 6 powerlifting records (and is right now training to grab another one this year) , and last year won a bodybuilding competition. Of course…..each training day when the jab doesn’t fire as fast as the cross, or he can’t grab the gi to lock a hold in BJJ with one hand is a constant reminder…but he doesn’t let that stop him. I’m really proud to have members like that at the dojo, and I look forward to one day seeing him on the martial arts competition mats. I think….with an attitude like his…there is nothing he won’t be able to do if he wishes.
I’m sharing this story because I think it shows you how you can turn your weakness into your strength if you try hard enough. If you want to change bad enough, and you want it bad enough then there are no excuses. Only solutions to find.
Osu : Never Give Up