Giving Hope


We all face challenges in our lives. I’ve faced several challenges that created great difficulties for me, that were extremely bad times for me. There were times at a younger age where the importance of fitting in seemed as though it was the only important thing. I dealt with addiction, and at times, loneliness. Still, I survived those experiences and went on with my life to experience a number of wonderful things. Such is the nature of things.

We all have good things happen to us. We all have negative things happen to us.

I want to tell you a story about a man named Richard. Richard faced a serious challenge. He was in an accident and he lost his left arm. He was in the hospital and when he left the hospital he was scared. He felt weak. He felt that he wasn’t the person he had been before the accident and he experienced severe feelings of fear and apprehension. Still, he went forward. He returned to work, he regained some aspects of his life and he talked with his friends. One of them suggested to Richard that he might take a self-defense class, like judo. He said;

“I don’t know if I could learn judo, if I just have one arm.”

His friend said that he thought it would work if he found the right teacher. So Richard searched out a teacher, a Sensei, a master of judo. He asked the man if he could learn judo, seeing as he only had one arm. The teacher looked at him and thought for a moment and then said that “Yes, you can learn judo, even with just one arm, but if I take you as a student, you must promise to do the things I ask you to do, even if they are difficult. Richard promised that he would do what the teacher asked him to do.

So they began the lessons. Richard learned basic skills and exercises. He learned to block kicks and strikes. He learned to counter throws. He learned how to break away from holds. He learned how to get up when someone has you held down, how to control their hands, stand up, peel the hands and then turn away to gain your freedom. His teacher worked with him over and over on one particular throw, where you grab your opponents arm and shoulder in an under hook and then step forward bringing your hips underneath them and then straightening up, you throw them through the air and onto the ground. They worked often on this move and Richard thought that maybe this was because it was all that he was able to do with one arm. Still, he enjoyed the activity and was pleased with his strength and conditioning. He practiced regularly and grew stronger and faster with the passing of time.

One day he came to practice and the Sensei told him that he thought that he was ready to enter a tournament. All of the old fears and worries returned and washed over Richard overwhelming him.

“I can’t”, he said. “I’m not as strong as the other men. I only have one arm. I don’t want to go out there where everyone will be looking at me. Besides, I can’t beat the other men.”

His teacher said; “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about facing your fears and using what you have learned. Remember that you promised to do the things I asked you to do.” Richard remembered that he had promised and agreed to enter the judo tournament. He went out for his first match and he was scared. His opponent came out quickly and took him down and was pounding on him, when Richard remembered that he knew what to do when someone is holding you down.

He concentrated on the things he knew how to do and he grabbed the man’s hands and straightened up and peeling the hands away, he stepped free. When the man came at him again, he blocked the attack. The next time the man came at him, he grabbed his arm and then stepping into him, he threw him through the air, taking him down. He did this again and won the match. His next match he felt more confident and he focused his energy and attention on the things he knew how to do. You can’t do anything about the things you don’t know how to do, but if you focus on doing well the things you know, you will often be able to succeed where others might fail. He won his next match as well and now he found himself in the finals.

He had been watching the other contestants and he had seen the man that he would face in the finals. That man was bigger than he was and stronger as well. That man was extremely good at judo. He had destroyed his four opponents and seemed to be unbeatable. All of Richard’s fears and apprehensions returned, filling him with dread.

Richard went to his teacher and said; “I don’t want to go out there. I can’t win. He will wipe me out in front of all these people.”

His teacher looked at him and, once again, said; “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about facing your fears and doing what you have trained to do, even though it is difficult. Remember that you promised that you would try to do the things I ask you to do.” Richard remembered and he went out for the final match. He was scared and his opponent, sensing that fear, attacked him, taking him down and throwing all of his weight and strength upon him. Somehow this helped to calm Richard. He knew what to do when he was in this position. He grabbed the man’s hands, straightened up, stepped away from his and regained his freedom. When the man came at him again, he was ready and countered his throw. When the man came again, he reached under his arm and shoulder for the under hook, stepped into the man placing his hips under the other man’s hips, and then straightened up throwing the man through the air, guiding him to the mat, holding him down and pinning him there.

The place went wild. People were screaming and cheering, amazed that Richard had been able to beat his opponent.

After Richard had received his trophy and had time to reflect on the match he went to his teacher and asked him; “How did you know that I could beat him?” His teacher looked at him in a knowing way and replied; “Richard there are two things that you do not know. The first thing is that the throw you use is almost perfect. You have practiced it and do it so well that it is almost flawless. The second thing is that the only counter for that move, is to grab your opponent’s left arm.”

Call to Action:

The story serves to illustrate that at times the challenges we face may serve the purpose of helping us change, to grow, to learn new things; even though this may be hard to do.

1. Richard’s teacher looked at his challenge, not as a disability, but as an opportunity to do something that no one else was able to do. In a similar manner, it seems that we have a choice in our lives.

2. To look at our challenges as bad luck or unfortunate events; or to see them as opportunities for growth, for change, to learn something new or to do something we have not done before; and in doing so to better ourselves or others.

3. It’s probably also a good idea, to find a good teacher or someone you trust at those times.

4. How can we overcome obstacles and/or disabilities?

5. Setting goals and believing in yourself is critical to reaching your fullest potential.

6. Practicing making good decisions….eventually you get good at it.

Make Camp Character and the Camp of Champs an annual tradition for your child. These types of stories are the core of what makes our camp different. We look forward to hearing from you!

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