Without a vision, the people perish (part one)
By Shihan Ellis Weber
People make history every day. It may not be recorded on our textbooks, but it leaves an imprint on key people's minds that will probably stick with them for life. I watched one such person make his own personal history several years ago at one of the local tournaments.
As the center referee for the black belt forms division, I'd been calling for scores all morning long. The talent was obvious as all ages of competitors went through their ritual of demonstrating why they believed they should be grand champion.
And then it was his turn. As he approached the panel of judges, I knew immediately he was "different." It was confirmed as he stuttered his name and even more so as he strained to announce the name of his weapons kata. He nervously eyed the judges, nearly wincing with every step as he backed up to his starting position. I could tell as he closed his eyes he was performing the moves in his mind. After what seemed an eternity, he began his form. The only three to four moves I could recognize were repeated continuously for nearly two minutes.
By now all eyes in the auditorium began to fall on this struggling young man. I don't know which was working harder-the nunchakus or his tongue as it rolled from one side of his mouth to the other. The score keeper next to me whispered, "He thinks it's an insult to compete in the disabled division. "The dead silence was broken by wood against wood as his chucks clanged against the gym floor no less than five times. When I finally saw through the sheer awkwardness and apparent clumsiness of the form, I saw the effort that was probably unmatched that day, even among the state's finest.
Finally, it ended. We all knew he had done his best. Greater enemies had been defeated than those imaginary ones in his kata- prejudice for one. As it was, he went home only with his dignity and pride, but I couldn't help but wonder for the rest of the day-who was the most disabled?
I know that none of you are strangers to how the martial arts can create self-confidence and focus for someone who otherwise wouldn't be given the time of day in most other competitive sports. Something to consider is that reputable martial arts schools, including our local USA-IFK school, can show you support and we can help our students with unlimited Kyokushin training and fellowship so that many more history-makers have the opportunity to see their potential realized.
Shihan Ellis Weber
Founder and Senior instructor
Eaglewings Kyokushin karate