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Compared to Life, Jiu-jitsu is a Piece of Cake

February 23, 2009

I rode an elevator with a student at the Jr. High School I taught today.

Her English is very good. Conversation level. In a typical Japanese Jr. High School that’s the equivalent of being a diamond in the rough.

That’s a pretty accurate metaphor considering she’s also handicapped.

She noticed my limping and we started to talk about my injury. And of all the people I’ve talked to about my knee, her wishes for a speedy recovery were the most heartfelt. She offered me words of kindness when I wasn’t expecting it, this coming from a young woman who will always live with the need of a wheelchair.

I’ve had many conversations with this student before, and I’ve always admired her positive energy and outlook on life. Now she has my utmost respect because I’m far more aware of her perspective.

It would be ignorant of me to claim that after a few weeks of being in a full leg cast I now have miraculous insight into being handicapped. That would be dumb. My situation is temporary.

It’s because of my injury that I can see just a glimpse of the difficulties she has faced, and will continue to face, in her life.

There are so many lessons to learn from people like her. Enduring spirit, choosing to be positive, dealing with situations rather than complain about them. Refusal to let physical limitations define what can and cannot be done.

The list goes on. I personally like that last one.

As a small practitioner of Jiu-jitsu I’m all too familiar with physical limitations. There will always be others stronger, larger, heavier, more athletic and younger than me. I hope this will be the last time I give credit to the physical abilities of others. Obviously those things matter, but it shouldn’t hinder me anymore than it should.

Our limitations can define us. Or we can look past our limitations and see what we’re really capable of despite them.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2009 12:33 am

    I am with you. Sometimes being on crutches with my bum knee gets me very frustrated. Going grocery shopping is nearly impossible on crutches, and most activities take significantly longer to complete (carrying a cup of coffee from one room to another, bathing, getting out of a car, vacuuming the apartment when my fiancee is not around so I don’t get in trouble for “doing too much”, etc.)

    But as you said, we have it way easier than those who are permanently handicapped. So we have no room to complain. It is a real eye-opener into the experiences of those folks whose conditions or injuries are permanent.

  2. February 24, 2009 11:23 am

    Ha! My girl is the same way. If I’m cleaning she immediately takes over and has the “I’m not happy” face. Once, she caught me doing push ups… gah.

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