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#286602 - 09/19/06 10:19 AM A nice story for once
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA

"Fear and doubt never had a chance. Not from the minute Sam Flores laid eyes on 8-year-old Cole Massie wrapping both arms around a handrail at the Glendale YMCA and inching his way up the last 16 steps to make it to his karate class on time.

Those steps were supposed to be Flores' way out of this dilemma - the fear and doubt he was feeling.

The fifth-degree black belt sensei - a master karate teacher - feared no man. But he had come to fear this little boy with cerebral palsy who wanted so badly to learn karate.

For hours, Cole would sit in his wheelchair in his room watching pirate movies on TV and practicing karate moves to help the good guys win, says his mother, Michelle Massie.

For his 9th birthday, he wanted only one thing, he told her. Real karate lessons.

For weeks, Michelle called every karate instructor in the Yellow Pages only to hear the same answer:

"Sorry, we don't take severely handicapped children in wheelchairs as students. We are not trained to train them."

The Glendale YMCA was her last hope. A friend had told her about Flores, and how all the kids there loved him. Their sensei spent as much time in class teaching pride and respect as he did teaching them to fight and defend themselves.

If anyone could see past the wheelchair and her son's physical disability and know what to do, it would be this 50-year-old sensei with the big heart.

Michelle crossed her fingers and dialed his number.

Flores put down the phone and took a long, deep breath. Those old enemies of his were back, slowly crawling up the back of his neck. Fear and doubt.

"I knew I wasn't trained for this, and to be honest, I didn't want to do it," he said.

Flores thought long and hard, but in the end he called Michelle and gave her the bad news - couching it with a plausible excuse.

The elevator at the Glendale YMCA only went up to the third floor and his karate class was on the fourth floor. There was no handicapped access to get Cole to class in his wheelchair. I'm sorry, he said.

Flores hung up feeling as low as he had in a long time. Fear and doubt had won.

Michelle hung up and started to cry. She had nowhere else to turn. In a few minutes, she would walk into her son's room and tell him she had tried - but failed.

He was a great kid, never gave her or his father, Will, a second's worth of trouble or back talk. They had told Cole he could be whatever he wanted to be, not to let his wheelchair and cerebral palsy define him.

But it was defining him, and that made Michelle angry. She never made it to Cole's room that day. She picked up the phone and called Flores back.

"Are you saying the only reason Cole can't take lessons is because of those steps?" she asked him.

Sam smiled. He could see what was coming. This was one tough mother and kid that his fear and doubt were going up against.

"I'll carry my son up those steps if you'll take him," Michelle said, holding her breath.

There was a long pause. "Mondays and Wednesdays at 3:45 p.m.," the sensei said. "See you there."

And that's where Cole has been every Monday and Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. for the past nine months, arriving half an hour early so he can cling to the handrail and inch his crippled body up those last 16 steps to make it to class on time.

"I carried him the first six months, but now he wants to do it himself, show his sensei how far he has come," Michelle said last week.

Cole has nothing to prove to anyone, Flores says, watching the boy struggle up those steps last week.

"It used to break my heart watching him, but now I only feel pride and respect for him. This little boy is the essence of the karate spirit. Even though his body will not allow him to do what other kids can do, he never gives up.

"He has become the inspiration of my class, and teaching him karate has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done."

There was a special class last Saturday at the Glendale YMCA for Cole Massie's 9th birthday.

The sensei bowed and stood in front of his 20 students, who bowed back. Cole sat with them in his wheelchair, practicing all the modified moves Flores had devised for him.

Cole knew his test for a novice's yellow belt - the first color belt in karate - would be coming up soon. He just didn't know when.

Flores led the class through all the techniques, asking Cole before each one what it meant and how to say it in Japanese.

"I didn't tell him, but this was his test," Flores said. "Cole may be limited because of his physical limitations, but he grasped and excelled at the mental, spiritual essence of the karate spirit."

At the end of the session, the sensei announced that in 25 years as a teacher he never had one student score 100 percent on his yellow-belt test.

Cole Massie was his first.

Flores walked over to the boy and handed him his yellow belt as the class began clapping and cheering.

With a smile that lit up the room, Cole Massie looked up at his sensei, then over at his mom and dad. "I knew I could do it. I earned it," Cole said.

Yes, he had. One step at a time. Fear and doubt never had a chance."

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_4351020
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#286603 - 09/19/06 10:27 AM Re: A nice story for once [Re: MattJ]
horizon Offline
Member

Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 143
Loc: London
This is the kind of story that makes me cry and puts a smile on my face simultaneuously.

Next time I walk up the stairs to my dojo, complaining that I already have sore legs from the gym, I will think of him and his way up the stairs.
_________________________
Ichi Nichi Issho - one day, one lifetime

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#286604 - 09/19/06 10:29 AM Re: A nice story for once [Re: MattJ]
Gavin Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 2267
Loc: Southend, Essex, UK
Matt, this post doesn't contain anything that breaks my little forums rules, is completely devoid of anything ego stroking and is in fact completely inspirational! I take it I don't need to inform you of that this is not what we have come to expect from this section! Anymore of this sunshine and you'll be booted out!

Great story Matt. Working with any student to help them become more than what they are is fantastic, I bet this instructor got as much out of this experience as his new little yellow belt did!
_________________________
Gavin King
www.SHIKON.COM
Follow me on twitter @taichigav

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#286605 - 09/19/06 10:29 AM Re: A nice story for once [Re: horizon]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
My eyes were a bit watery by the time I finished reading it.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#286606 - 09/19/06 10:30 AM Re: A nice story for once [Re: horizon]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Smiling? I'm crying.

Great story...thanks for sharing.

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#286607 - 09/19/06 12:04 PM Re: A nice story for once [Re: MattJ]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Quote:

My eyes were a bit watery by the time I finished reading it.




A bit watery???

Sheesh...I was crying like a the dam had broken...

Thank you for the uplifting story...I needed it.

G
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#286608 - 09/19/06 01:27 PM Re: A nice story for once [Re: MattJ]
Xibalba Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
Quote:

My eyes were a bit watery by the time I finished reading it.




Darn you people! I am at work! What are my co-workers going to think when they see the big-bad karate guy crying at his keyboard this afternoon?

Fantastic story. It makes me wonder why any of us have ever complained about how hard training can be. I will be forwarding this to some of my other karate buddies.

Mike

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#286609 - 09/19/06 01:59 PM Re: A nice story for once [Re: Xibalba]
stormbringer Offline
Extraordinaire

Registered: 04/04/06
Posts: 277
Loc: Florida
Quote:

Quote:

My eyes were a bit watery by the time I finished reading it.




Darn you people! I am at work! What are my co-workers going to think when they see the big-bad karate guy crying at his keyboard this afternoon?




I second that one. Where I go we have a young kid (4 or 5)named Charlie who has Down's Syndrome. I spar against his dad and some classes we have an odd person and they get to take a break, but usually play with Charlie (he loves grappeling). This kid is good with the 'Chucks too! I think it's amaizing when someone handicapped reaches their potential and surprises the world by doing it.
_________________________
Brown Belt. Should have my Black by Summer 2008. Jhoon Rhee system

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#286610 - 09/19/06 05:43 PM Re: A nice story for once [Re: stormbringer]
UofM Shorin Ryu Offline
Resident Forum Breakdancer

Registered: 02/07/05
Posts: 981
I third that one?

That was really really really...........reallyreallyreally touching.

I mean, we have a few handicapped people who breakdance, but nothing this dramatic.

Good story, certainly a life lesson.
_________________________
Alea iacta est ~ Gauis Julius Caesar Ne quis nimis ~ Solon Nuts to cancer ~ Sanchin31

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#286611 - 09/19/06 08:46 PM Re: A nice story for once [Re: UofM Shorin Ryu]
Reiki Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 3400
Loc: MiddleEarth
fantastic story!

That kid has a true warriors heart.
_________________________
Allow me to acquaint you with my friends Mr Jab and Mr Cross...

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