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inspirational friendship

November 20th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

inspirational friendship

“What is a friend?  A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

—Aristotle

I’d like to tell you a story about an unlikely, but inspirational friendship.

Years ago,  my Karate teacher and the rest of us, his senior students, were involved in teaching the disabled how to protect themselves.  Because they are among the most vulnerable, due to legs that don’t work, brains that cause the tremors of cerebral palsy, eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear;  they are also the people most likely to be mugged or taken advantage of by people who are lost, selfish, or violent.

During that time, my teacher became involved with the head person of the Californians With Disabilities Foundation.  Ed was a quadriplegic (due to an early bout with polio), who needed a caregiver to help him with his most basic needs, because he could only move his head.  However, with the help of his right shoulder, and the resulting movement down into his hand, he was able to push the lever on his electric wheelchair which allowed him to turn right, left, forward, etc.

In quite a contrast, my teacher was a former marine drill instructor, and believe me, that’s how he taught us Karate:  commanding, yelling,  telling us, urging us, moving us to be better than we ever thought possible.  Because,  Karate isn’t just about learning to punch, kick, or block to protect yourself.  It’s about becoming a better person, building your character, becoming stronger inside, respecting and helping others.  My teacher had fought battles during his time in the Marines (in special forces), but now, he knew the value of peace and the worth of each individual, because he had seen and been through so much that was the complete opposite.  Life vs. death…..

Anyway, Ed and my teacher developed quite an unlikely friendship:  the most vulnerable of quadriplegics and one of the strongest, macho, yet-sensitive men I’ve ever known.  My teacher taught Ed Karate (using the movements of his electric wheelchair).  He also learned how to be a caregiver to Ed in order to give his regular caregiver a break.  Ed developed more confidence in his physical and mental abilities and my teacher learned more about what it was like to live with an unbelievably restrictive disability.  They both had a tremendous sense of  humor, which lightened up their days, and together they helped to get legislation passed that became The Californians With Disabilities Act in the 1980′s.

Perhaps you can think of an inspirational friendship in your own life.


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