Superman has gone
I was saddened when I heard that Christopher Reeve, “Superman” in the movies, had succumbed in October to an infection brought on by bed sores. My father lived for eighteen years as a paraplegic from when I was six years old. Unlike Reeve, he was able to breath without assistance, he could grip with his left hand, though not with his right. My father, Len Heale, excelled at the traditional English Martial Art of archery. He could compete from his wheelchair, using a left-handed grip, and shot for the county team in Kent where we lived. In 1968 he won a Gold Medal at the Paraplegic Olympic Games and was honored as “Disabled Athlete of the Year” by the English Sports Writers Association. In addition to teaching me to shoot a bow, my father also taught me to appreciate what it means to be “able bodied."
Christopher Reeve, as a high profile movie star, showed the world that, despite his disability, he could go on with his life as a champion for an important cause. All over the world people who suffer spinal cord injuries struggle to get through the day. They struggle with basic processes that most of us take for granted. Just sitting or sleeping without special care and attention can cause pressure sores that can lead to the kind of infection that Reeve died from.
It is not unusual for paraplegics and others who suffer major traumatic injuries, that lead to chronic disability, to question whether they should go on with their lives. It is heroes like Christopher Reeve and my father, who take on that challenge and excel in their efforts to raise public awareness, that inspire others to persevere. My father used to say that at first his disability sometimes made him feel worthless because there was so much he could no longer do. He was invalided out of the navy and lost his career. He was dead from the armpits down, almost as if his body had been amputated. What he found was that in advocating for the rights of the disabled, pursuing his interest in archery, and doing what he could to fulfill his role as a husband and father to his family, he could continue to live a life of value to himself and others.
Both my father and Christopher Reeve represent heroic figures in my life. Both overcame enormous adversity to achieve recognition based upon their contribution to those in the community who suffer from similar disabilities. There are others, whether paraplegics, amputees or chronically disabled individuals, who rise above their disabilities to live extraordinary lives. I for one feel a sense of gratitude for their outstanding contribution.
Sensei Robert H. Mason c2004
Helping Kids Balance Responsibilities
Part of being an excellent student of Martial Arts is learning to carefully balance your responsibilities. Adding a Karate schedule to job, school, family or homework etc., requires a good deal of care. The funny thing is, doing well in one area will help you do well in all the others. Taking care in all of the things you do is part of the philosophy of developing Black Belt Excellence.
It all starts with planning. Planning means thinking carefully about the days ahead, and having a clear picture of what’s in store. Remember that: one of the best ways to balance responsibilities is to make sure you know what they are! Write down a list of all the tasks you have for each week. That way you’ll know exactly how much time you have to get everything done properly. Here’s a hint, use a calendar to write down your daily tasks. That way you’ll know just what’s in store day by day.
Thinking of Others
We all depend on our friends, family and instructors to help us meet our daily needs and responsibilities. Without the care and attention of these important people, balancing responsibilities wouldn’t be possible. When you learn to balance responsibilities for yourself, you’re also helping other people too. For example, having all your homework, or household commitments finished on time means you’ll be able to concentrate with with a clear mind during your Martial Art classes.
One of the quickest ways to throw things out of balance is to lose sight of what’s most important. Always keep in mind what needs to be done first. Why is this important? Because we’ve all had the experience of realizing too late that we didn’t have time to finish an important assignment or chore. Knowing what has top priority will help to avoid doing any task at the last minute.
Finding your Balance
Thoughtful planning of your daily activities will make you a more complete Martial Artist. Always remember that learning to balance responsibilities takes practice. So don’t get frustrated if you don’t succeed immediately. Finding your own way to achieve goals is part of balancing responsibilities. Take occasional breaks in your work schedule. Try out new ways to arrange your schedule until you find the method that work best for you. And remember to have some fun!
Safety Tip for Kids and Parents
We all remember a time in our childhood when we got lost and were terrified. We have also all seen children screaming or crying in stores or witnessed panicked parents trying to locate lost children. Having a prearranged course of action should this situation ever occur is a wise strategy. If a child gets lost, teach them to go to the front of the store and tell someone at the register or a policeman to please call for their parents. Remaining calm is an important issue here. It gives kids confidence to know exactly what to do. Tell them to look for people in uniform such as a policeman or cashier at a store. If you are in a store and have lost one of your children, do not leave the store. Look for them at the register, ask the staff for help and wait for assistance.
Excerpt from Safer Smarter Kids, a program developed by Mike Storms.