written by Clay Johnson
It has been about two years since Simo Paula Inosanto ask me to help her start The Martial Artist with Disabilities Page on the Inosanto website. I have written 4 articles so far, and this one being the fifth one. Three of my friends who also are martial artist with disabilities also have written articles or bios for this page. They are Lakan Guro Joe Singleton, Ken Chun, and Glen Leonard.
I have to admit at first that for myself I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I had to write about or say. And for the first few months I thought I was right then I started getting an email or two from people saying they enjoyed my first article. Then over the last 6 months to year I have gotten emails from all over the place even from England with some just saying we enjoy your articles and keep up the good work to some asking “can you help me find a teacher willing to teach me even though I have a disability”. Lucky with Simo Paula help I have been able to help them find the right teacher willing to take up the challenge, then some have ask for advice on how train because there are no instructors in their area or none are willing to teach them. This is a very hard request sometimes because I don’t know how their disability affects their ability to move or use their hands and feet or arms and legs. I advise them to try to come and train with me and when they can’t because of distance I tell them to try to find an instructor in their area. Then I received an email from a gentleman who was also disabled and had read my articles and wanted to challenge me to a fight or sparring match. At first I thought it might be fun to do but after thinking about it for a few days and asking my family and Simo Paula about it I decided not to fight. Then about a month or so ago I received and email from Laura Kaminker who writes articles for a magazine for kids with disabilities called “Kids on wheels” their website is www.kidsonwheels.us. I was one of three people she interviewed for an upcoming article about the martial arts. It’s my understanding that the article will be out in February of 2006.
The really funny thing about writing for this page is that people write me for advice, because 22 years ago I was a very shy kid, who would have thought I would have a talent to teach and perform the martial arts pretty well. If you would told me that then I would have probably said you are nuts. I know that the great thing about the internet is that people like me are out there trying the martial arts for the first time and some are black belts maybe wanting to try a different style or just to improve their skills.
I know when I started the martial arts back in 1983 in VA I was the only disabled person training back then in my state. My role models back then were and still are to this day Bruce Lee and Guro Dan Inosanto. I have been told by many people that I’m their role model and inspiration it’s nice that they feel that way about me but I’m a guy doing the best with what I’ve been given but I don’t consider myself to be that good of a martial artist (fair) but I feel like I’m a good teacher. To close please keep sending your emails and letting me know if I can help or point you in the right direction.