Nicole has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair and walker. She came to me at age 12 wanting to get in the best possible physical shape and to learn self-defense.
Her disability wasn’t going to hold her back from being like everyone else.
A sweet girl with a kind heart, she was scared and doubtful she could do the training. I firmly believe anyone can learn Tae Kwon-Do and reassured her she could and would succeed.
First we worked on how to defend herself from a sitting position. I showed her how her canes could be used as a weapon. We worked on patterns and how to use her wheelchair as legs. Over time, she was able to spin her wheelchair left or right and throw a punch, block, or kick all in one continuous movement.
Tae Kwon-Do training can be rough, both mentally and physically. Imagine how people without a disability have bad days. Maybe they’re tired, or busy with work, and just don’t feel like training that day. They’re not mentally prepared. Now try imagining those same feelings with your brain preventing your muscles from functioning properly. Writing a note, brushing your teeth, even walking becomes extremely difficult. Having a disability only amplifies those difficult days when you don’t feel like training.
It was mentally and physically demanding for Nicole to come to the dojang, but she was tough and fought through it. Her spirit and determination overpowered any obstacles. On the days when her body wouldn’t cooperate with the training, we’d work on visualizations, preparing her mind for new techniques and patterns.
Nicole earned her blue belt before her family moved away for work.
I was very proud of Nicole and know if she continues her training, she’ll get to black belt. Tae Kwon-Do helped her self-esteem allowing her to accomplish something she never thought she could do.
This post is part of a series highlighting the many wonderful students that practice Tae Kwon-Do at Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do School in Amherst, NY.