Learning new ways – incredible stories of overcoming difficulties

Leila’s lovely comment the other day reminded me of these stories. I remember Anna, a student at Surrey who recounted her experiences of being virtually disabled:

“A while ago everything was just amazing in SL at least for me with my lovely MUVEnation family and great friends everywhere in SL. I was working in Surrey Island, studying in MUVEnation, having conferences in Idaho and showing off in Emerge runway.But all these things went down with a simple problem: “slow internet speed”.

Actually everything wasn’t that simple. I had to physically move within 3 counties, move my house twice, and face the fact that where I am standing right now there is not internet higher than 512 which is not even reliable…It’s just funny, how a simple thing can destroy whatever you work for it so hard, isn’t it….Three days ago, for a second I felt 0.01% of what disable people feel in their everyday life when I couldn’t move myself because of the low internet connection. It was awful.” (2)

Anna has faced numerous challenges during her time at Surrey but each time has come through each one, really fighting for what she wants to achieve in her life. I was also talking to someone last night who said that she simply could not do anything without her laptop. I think its really important to understand more about how important it is to us that we feel connected as a social phenomenon and if we are without a physical means, how do we learn to connect in alternative ways or learn to manage how and when to prioritise our activities for when connectivity is mixed. Can we express ourselves in different ways if we are unable to write / read etc

I feel embarrassed that I am not fighting tomorrow having succumbed to the elements, my indomitable spirit appears to have moved to a warmer climate without me. Still having now missed two fights, will hopefully get one in before 2010 if an opportunity arises, otherwise its full steam ahead with regular training too. I have heard stories from my instructor about health research completed for the NHS in relation to tai-chi, qi-gong and how people came in wheelchairs but 18 months later were completing all the movements on their feet. There seems to be a growing body of research relating to martial arts and its psychological and physiological benefits. I would like to share some links to some stories I found about amazing people who have learnt, re-learnt, changed their behaviour & mobility in spite of what they were facing both physiologically and psychologically, an inspiration to anyone:


” Obi Wan Canubi Jamie – I joined Goju Ryu after seeing the karate kid wanting to learn how to kick ass. I was ADHD according to my school therapist, just failed 4th grade and angry. After 6 months I had earned my white belt with 2 green stripes, still a beginner in the sense of karate, but so much more. I was no longer seeing the school therapist for ADHD, my grades were As & Bs and I was at peace with myself. Martial Arts is self discovery” (1)

2. Ben Schwenk who has had an amputation is aiming for Paralympics if taekwondo becomes a registered sport.

“Ben Schwenk doesn’t remember a lot about the worst 11 days of his life. After overcoming bone cancer, he underwent 17 surgeries in less than two weeks in 1990, as doctors unsuccessfully tried to halt a relentless staph infection that turned his left knee into the size of a basketball. His leg was amputated above the knee, but a radical operation preserved his calf muscle, quadriceps and hamstring — kept together by a steel plate and eight screws. And it opened the door for an improbable taekwondo career.

The Air Academy High School graduate, competing with a specially designed prosthetic leg, has quickly climbed the ladder in the world’s most practiced martial art, needing only 21 months to attain a blue belt — seven rankings below a black belt. Schwenk, 37, took up taekwondo in 2007 alongside his adopted son, Daniel, hoping the endeavor would atone for his failed bid at disabled skiing and provide discipline for a “big, tough kid” accustomed to bullying others in the foster care system.”

3. There is a story about a boy who lost an arm after an accident but learnt judo and won a championship – there is a detailed account of this story on Aiku-Jitsu. Also seeing the incredible Tetsu Yamazaki in action with one arm

4. These ladies are also amazing – my heroines:

Taekwondo Grannies

“Ji Bok Yeon is an intimidating 75-year-old. You really would cross the street to stay out of Granny’s way.
She joined nine years after being diagnosed with cancer. She beat the disease and has been beating her way through the wooden boards ever since.
“Doctors first saved my life by giving me a 30-month anti-cancer treatment and Taekwondo then gave me a cure,” she said.
” I no longer take anti-cancer medication after my nine-year workout.”

I can’t embed the video unfortunately, but I really recommend watching – just to see how they move – the passion and energy that they put into each movement is incredible and a joy to watch !

1. Chris, 2009 – The Single Most Important Lesson in Martial Arts: Martial Development, available at http://www.martialdevelopment.com/blog/most-important-martial-arts-lesson/
2. Vartapetiance-Salmasi A (2009) I am virtually disabled, Real Viki’s blog, available at: http://vw4reallearning.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/virtually-disabled/