Happy New Year! This is the time of year that many people want to make a fresh start and get more active. Are you a person with a disability who wants to be active but doesn’t know what to get involved in?
For me, karate was the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of my life. As a person who has both cerebral palsy and epilepsy, when I started karate ten years ago, I never imagined just how much it would change my life.
You might be wondering how a person with cerebral palsy and epilepsy can even do karate. It takes a lot of practice, good listening, and focus on my part; as well as patience and adaptations made by my Senseis. They take the time to patiently adapt any moves or stances that I am unable to do. I still do everything that everyone else does, but just in my own way.
Karate has helped me immensely both physically and mentally. It has improved my strength, reaction time, and balance. I am now able to do physical movements that I never thought I would be able to do. When I started, I had great trouble even standing on one foot and now I can do leg swings and kicks! Mentally, karate has helped me increase my focus and my memory, and gain confidence both in and out of the dojo. It has also made me fall in love with sports and competition. I can hardly wait for the next karate tournament!
I think one of the biggest benefits of being involved in karate is the social aspect of it. Making friends has never come easy to me and now I have a whole new community of support and friendship. My new connections have helped me expand my interests and has opened doors to new experiences that I wouldn’t have been part of otherwise. As well, my leadership opportunities in the dojo have allowed me to practice valuable skills that have helped me with the jobs I currently have.
Karate has given me so much. I am fortunate enough to be a brown belt and am working on getting my black belt! This has exceeded my expectations and it gives me the confidence to keep going.
I tell you this story not so much to encourage you to join a karate club; but more to inspire you to try something different. The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC has some great activities that would be a good first step in trying something new. For recreation, they have adaptive yoga, dance, and movement therapy. If none of those are of interest to you, there are also karaoke nights, movie nights, special events, and support groups for you to try out. Have a look at the calendar for more info about what’s coming up and for information on how to register. Give it a try! Maybe getting involved in something new will change your life like karate did for me.