In fact, karate was actually the most un-natural form of physical activity I had ever done. I was forty years old, had not exercised in nearly 20 years, and didn’t have the physical or mental strength. This was evident early on, during karate warm-ups when I could not even do 2 push-ups or run a lap around the dojo. I would often tell myself, “I can’t do this” and “I will never earn a black belt.
After Joe had his accident, my mind-set began to change. Early on, Joe struggled just to breath on his own without the ventilator and overcame his difficulties. Next, he had to learn to swallow food again, and succeeded. Then I was able to observe many of his physical therapy sessions and watched how arduous it was for him to move his fingers, raise his arms up, and lift his legs. However, Joe kept pushing harder during strenuous PT and OT until eventually he was able to stand and walk with a walker.
After seeing Joe overcome many obstacles, I started to believe in myself and my own abilities. One of my greatest obstacles was the cardiovascular demands of my karate classes. I set a goal to run a half-marathon. This was difficult, as I had never run long distances before. I ran a little more each week over several months and completed my first Joe Sharron Challenge in October of 2017.
Working toward a black belt required more than cardiovascular endurance. Over the course of almost 5 years, I had great instructors and learned many forms (katas), combinations, self-defense, weapons, and sparring techniques. Still, the physical demands were challenging for me. I had knee problems, arthritis in my hips, and very little arm strength. One of my greatest limitations was not being able to do push- ups. I knew that I would have to do 50 push-ups as part of my black belt-test. I almost gave up as the test date approached . . . but I had learned from Joe, that quitting was not an option. I practiced all the material I had learned over and over until the doubts began to fade. I worked on adding a few more push-ups each night until I was able to do fifty without stopping. Of course, I continued to run to keep up my cardiovascular strength.
On June 9th, 2019 I arrived for my 4.5 hour black belt test feeling a little nervous, excited, but overall ready for the tasks that awaited. I had Joe in mind, and kept telling myself to keep pushing forward, no matter how difficult it would be to endure. In the end, I passed my test and earned the black belt I had previously thought would never be possible. Joe has been my inspiration to believe in myself and to never, ever give up!