written by Ken Chun
I must confess that there was a time when I wasn’t sure I wanted to be known as a role model for people living with disabilities. I didn’t want to be a role model because I didn’t think I would make a good one. I’ve had to change my thinking though because, as my wife, Diana and Bob Burgee recently pointed out, like it or not, I am a role model for other disabled people so I have to suck it up and deal with it.
I’ve begun to realize that being a “Wheeled Warrior” is actually a way of life for us. The American Heritage: Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 defines the term “warrior” as, “One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.” We as disabled human beings, to say nothing of being disabled martial artists, are engaged in an aggressive battle against stereotypes every single day. As intensely as we may dislike it, we know that we have to prove ourselves as capable martial artists if anyone is to really take us seriously. But the physical training is just a small part of the bigger picture. There is also character, ethics, integrity and spiritual growth that I believe are equal parts of the picture. For me, a excellent character as well as ethical and spiritual growth are things that you can never, and should never, stop trying to achieve as a person. Ethics and integrity are especially important in today’s world. Without ethics and integrity a person becomes inconsequential.
So, what does this mean for you, the reader? Simply, that you must not allow yourself to become inconsequential. If you have the burning desire, as we did, to become martial artists, then you must engage yourself in the activity of martial arts and the daily conflict to show people that just because you’re in a wheelchair (or whatever your disability may be) doesn’t mean you’re relegated to a life of wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt because some idiot told you that you can’t participate in the martial arts (or whatever it is you desire). Show the world that you are consequential, that you are a Wheeled Warrior. Just be sure to accept the fact that there are things that you cannot do, no matter how much you want to do those things. I leave you with a quote from the great bard, William Shakespeare and a thought, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They all have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts” (“As You Like It”, Act 2 Scene 7) What will your parts be?