On Life being adaptive
A Lifelong Struggle
My whole life, the statements: “you can’t do this.” … “It will be to Hard”. . “It can’t not be modified” have been told to me time and time again. You see I have Cerebral Palsy. For those of you reading this, here is what that means.
C.P is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy… (http://ucpsdfoundation.org/whatiscp.html)
This is the generic understanding of this disability. However, every person born with C.P is different. For example, I have a mild form, my balance is shotty and my hips are tight, causing me to look like I strut whenever I walk. Where as, my twin brother, was born without the use of his legs, right arm and had epileptic seizures. Nothing is cookie cutter. Nothing.
A Fantastic New Adventure
It wasn’t until I moved to a small Alberta town that avenues I would have never imagined would open up. You see I have always been into combative and challenging sports, however had never found a place or an activity that that would be willing to work with and around my limitations. After looking for months the first side road appeared, a road that would lead to so much more. It started with kickboxing, or to be more specific, boxing with knees, not kicks thrown in. I jumped right in! Five classes a week! I worked on my balance and my confidence. Boy oh boy did it grow!
Soon after a CrossFit affiliate opened up in town, after looking into it man did I want to try! But my fear got the best of me at first, and I didn’t go try. Months went by, and finally I got in contact with the owners, explained my limitations and was extremely surprised when those ‘issues’ were not an issue at all. I went by the Box, tried a class, and soon after was knocking out modified Wod’s with the rest of them. It was at CrossFit where I met Bill Campbell. The conversations I had with him, would lead me to the biggest challenge and ultimately to the craziest adventure of my life. That adventure, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Let me explain.
One afternoon after a particularly intense WOD, Bill sat with me, looked at me plainly and said ‘ Hey you should try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it will totally help with your hip mobility! I tilted my head in that confused puppy kind of way, as at this point I had no Idea what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was, let alone how it could help me. Shortly after this conversation my journey started. In the beginning, it was an uphill battle ( I was with a different school then.) One thing I did realize was that it did in fact help with my hip mobility and it was awesome!
A year after my BJJ journey had started I connected again with Bill, by this time he had started his own school (STRAIGHT BLAST GYM) he offered me the chance to take private classes, as my training is a little different then the rest. As classes continued, and I became ever more comfortable on the mat, I realized that this was the one place I have ever trained were my disability was not a thing, and I was hooked, and I have been training for the last 4 years!
Reaching New Heights
It has been in the last year however, that this adventure I’m on has taken a wild turn! I found out that am in fact not the only adaptive grappler in my area ( for years I thought this was the case) I was able to connect with a young man, an my entire world on the mats has expanded , the glass ceiling I had placed over myself, has shattered! I have since been made aware of an adaptive grapplers tournament. The ‘Grapplers Heart Tournament’ its in it’s 3rd year and is the only one of its kind. I am looking forward to experiencing this event. Training hard, and I'm currently raising funds to go.
It has taken me years to understand, and accept how amazing being adaptive can be. I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and this is only the beginning!