Wednesday, May 6, 2020

In Defense of Self

Karate is about self-defense. Period. It's not a sport.

I've convinced myself that the grief process for how far I've slid in the past two years won't be as severe, so long as I can keep on partying with aggressive dance moves in my funny pajamas. For most of the last ten days I've had intractable pain. I can't wait to get back to karate in any possible way besides reviewing in my head. I need to believe I'll get back to it because without my port I've been at a tremendous loss. Karate is a huge part of me that I haven't lost, and I don't intend to.

Retirement due to disability isn't like voluntary retirement at retirement age. For one thing it's guaranteed poverty. It's means-testing for every bit of support. It's nursing and medical re-evals a dozen times a year just to make sure you're really not going to improve. Same questions over and over. Same paperwork. Same signatures, scheduling, hours and hours of life spent on enough  paperwork to make you ask yourself, "can I really not work if I can do all this paperwork?" But then the symptoms stack up, everything you swear you've washed still smells like puke to you, the mail says you're overdue for more medical exams, your best splints won't close over the cat fur in their Velcro, and it's hard to tell what day it is because you can't remember the last time your sleep schedule was diurnal. That's on top of actually staying alive and uninjured, splinted appropriately, meds, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medical appointments, paperwork for those, blood work, pharmacies, insurance, prescriptions, bills, diagnostic imaging, durable medical equipment, residential mods, vehicle mods....

Suffice to say, I'm having a hard time.

When I'm at karate that falls away for a while. I'm enchanted by the physiology, the safety, the methodology. My Sensei delivers this balance of humour and heft that level off the risk of death or permanent injury similar to the risks I live with day in and day out. Things slow down and I'm not thinking about how close I am to a joint dislocation. I'm just doing one thing at a time and when something pops out I put it back in. Easy peasy.

There's no paperwork, no evaluation. Nobody is going to check to see how functional I am. They're just other people on the floor on their own journeys, and we're just doing the same thing together for a time. We're all pushing our own limits. There's no competition, only partnership. There are no cliques, only karate family. We're a tight-knit dojo and your body or intellectual ability does not limit you in our school. We are inclusive and I am included.

In my school I don't feel invisible. When I can't be on the floor I have extra projects to participate, in character development or in projects that help our school grow. I get to do really cool things with every language I know, with technology, building, and crafting. There's never a break in growth and strengthening, and that's what makes karate invaluable.

Karate is about self-defense. You have to believe in your life and develop a life that's worth defending. You have to build a self to defend. I've lost a tremendous lot of my self in my retirement. Karate is as good a mode as any to get that back or grow a new sense of self. So you see, I'm eager to get back.

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