Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beep…Beep I am disabled but I still train

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If one don’t get you, the other one will
·         With apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford

Yes I am disabled, I am also a rectal cancer survivor and live with diabetes II. After seeing many, and having many tests, while they can tell me all the nasty things I do not have, they aren’t sure what I do have. They label my condition as me having  Paraneoplastic Neuromyopathy & Neuropathy. And that name amounts to they just don’t know what I have. I could retreat from life, or even give up, but instead I continue to do what I can do.

There have been many disabled individuals I’ve met over the yea r,each of who trained, learnt and practiced their art. Now I find myself in their company. Of course my circumstances are different as my disability began late in the game not in the beginning as for many of them. But there are common things we share.

First, the word disabled to me  is a misstatement. They may not have the same number of limbs, or palsy, or blindness, or other conditions. But they chose to train to their unique ability as do be all. Whether it’s their legs, or leg, or their wheels, or their chair legs, or even just the legs of their bed, they still touch the ground in some manner and in that way we are all the same.

They never let their condition stop their training, and now finding I have less control over myself I must continue to train also in my own way.

It is important to understand your condition, physically and mentally.

 As an example I offer my circumstances.

General condition:
Muscular weakness.  Speech if difficult from the weakness of the facial muscles. At times the weakness extends to swallowing problems.  Weakness in hands makes writing legibly most difficult, even use of the PC is difficult at times when the fingers type incorrect keys. My balance is severely affected. Physical assertion leads quickly to fatigue and more difficult decision making as a result.

For overall conditioning and to strengthen the heart, I regularly walk on the gentle rolling hillside roads near my home.  To prevent falling I use a three wheeled walker outside the house. Generally 2 or 3 mile walks.

I continue my Yang Tai Chi practice. After 30 of work on it I could hardly quit.  I had to modify my technique to change the use of stepping in much of the form. Now I rock back and forth in my stances to compensate for my poorer balance. I regularly practice about 1/6 of the form. Overall there is less precision in my technique. One condition I have experienced is weakness in my shoulders. The tai chi motions have offered some relief.

For my Isshinryu and other studies, I also continue to practice all of my kata. I note the karate is easier for me to practice with fewer turning movements in their performance. Easier in some sense but being weaker does make a difference.  I rarely attempt the kicking movements, most often omitting them. I  can still kick, but the potential loss of balance and falls occurring make it safer to not use them.

Sanchin kata is a daily practice
Naifanchi kata is a daily practice.
Seiunchin kata is a daily practice.
Wansu kata is a more occasional practice.
Chinto kata is a more special practice.
Kusanku kata is a more special practice. I have eliminated the ground techniques as they are very difficult for me.
SunNuSu  is often a daily practice.
I vary the kata used for the daily practice to keep my mind fresh when I practice.
Other kata studies I use for variety:  Tomari Rohai, Aragaki Sochin, Pai Lum Supple Dragon, Nijushiho, Gojushiho.

Youth kata; Sho, Koyzai, Ananku. These are used regularly in the Youth classes I teach.

 Karate kata practice mainly includes about 2 kata for intensity and whatever else I so to preserve the motion memory.

My kobudo practice is more limited because of lack of strength.  I can normally perform a few movements of bo, sai , tonfa or kama. Enough to make corrections to students forms. I focus more on my tanto studies and have been working Seisan with tekko in order to improve my grip and enhance my defensive ability.

I application studies, much of mu technique still works. Even those parts that have left I am still capable of teaching for the most part. But a significant portion of my personal studies I no longer have the capability to move forward. Still I have thousands of techniques available for my use. I think I miss this change most of all.

Teaching – Most of the teaching of the youth falls to the other instructors. It is very interesting seeing how they use our mutual studies. I do continue to teach, abet with help,  all of the beginners.They remain the most important students. I also run the adult class. When I can no longer do some of the kata with the group, there are of course others to help.
I can still effectively instruct this group. For example While I can no longer do Supple Dragon, I still can instruct it move by move. However watching others I often remember O’ those were the days.

Speech difficulties – These are the hardest to deal with. To be understood I have to work at speaking very slow. Any time I go faster I am incomprehensible. It makes it often difficult to share what I wish with the group. Yes, students learn in time to understand me, but this remains difficult.

After class  I write a letter to the group, reviewing what was covered, explaining fine points or mistake areas to watch in their performance, give detailed instructions regarding applications, techniques, etc.
Most of these letters are too much for those not in the program and rarely are included in my blog.

The Blog  Is where I share much about our program, and other personal studies so they have access to my research. Many details there are not included in our program, they are there if the seniors choose to take their research in those directions.

Today in cold weather I walked about 2 and ½ miles. Did kata SunNuSu andSeiuchin, and the last ½ of the Yang form. Though not fun in heavy clothes still I persevere.

No comments: