Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate
Compassion, comradery and caring; three words I have chosen as practiced principles for my green belt project. As many of you may already know, I am a burn victim from a car accident that occurred over 25 years ago, when I was only 21 years old. Burns are horribly painful and when they are extensive on one’s body, they are highly life threatening, cause disfigurement and scars, and inflict both physical and mental pain that is indescribable.
I was fortunate that a man named Dr. Ken Campbell visited me as I laid in my hospital bed undergoing burn treatments for my wounds. He is a dentist and at the time also fully participated in Iron Man triathlons, even though his burns were much more extensive than my own. My burns were approximately 26% of my body skin area; Dr. Campbell’s was over 90%. He lost his nose, finger tips, ears…the only part of his body that was not burned were the bottom of his feet! When he first walked into my room, I was taken aback by his physical appearance and wondered how he could possibly do the things he described relative to practicing dentistry and completing Iron Man triathlons. I was in immense pain and suffered from great mental anguish knowing I too had been scarred for life; would I ever be able to find a job, a girlfriend/wife, and be able to overcome what had happened to me, I wondered. Dr. Campbell shared with me his hardships and how he worked to overcome his physical and mental challenges; that in life, terrible things can happen but that the true test of our character is how we strive to overcome obstacles and handle adversity. When he left me, I felt an immediate attitude shift; that if he could overcome such things regardless of the physical deformities he would live with the rest of his life, so could I! He sparked an inner strength in me I did not realize I had before I met him having felt like a helpless victim whose life was forever altered; he helped me to see the possibilities of my healing and being a better man in the long run.
Every day, there are many people that are injured and burned. These can be car accidents, military service related, accidents in the home, work, etc. Children and adults alike are going through such trials and tribulations on a daily basis; I want to do for them what Dr. Campbell did for me, by sharing with them my experiences and how I was able to move past my burns and achieve goals in my life (like participating in Karate) regardless of my scars and physical limitations.
What is absolutely heart breaking to me is when a young child is severely burned. Under such circumstances, these children often have to go in for surgery as they grow for skin grafts to expand areas of skin damaged by their burns. It is painful and their plight is fraught with great potential for infections and worse, in some cases, teasing and gawking by people that are insensitive and lack empathy. I want to give back what was so freely given to me from Dr. Campbell; compassion, caring and comradery (in knowing others have been afflicted with such challenges and common experiences…that we do not have to be alone in our recovery).
I plan to go to visit burn victims at the UC Medical Center and Shriner’s hospital, as to provide them some insight into my own experiences and how in many respects my accident and burns have made me a much stronger person both physically and mentally and moreover, how Karate has helped me to further expand and enhance my own life experiences of practicing compassion and the feeling of comradery in our Dojo. It is my hope that in sharing with others they in time can not only fully recover from their burns, but recognize the possibilities of achieving great things in their lives regardless of the obstacles ahead. Mind, body and spirit—the trifecta of living a balanced and productive life regardless of our circumstances, and my participation in our Dojo and the way of Karate has helped me to foster more inner strength than I thought I had coming into it. I am no longer a burn victim but a thriving survivor! And if I can do it…so can others!!