I have now been training in Kempo for a little over four years and cannot say enough about how much I enjoy it. I have done other styles of martial arts, but feel I have found my niche with Kempo. There are multiple benefits to martial arts training. The most obvious benefit is knowledge of self-defense. But for me it goes well beyond that. I am a military man and have served for over 18 years. In the military and in martial arts, values such as discipline, honor, and integrity are at the forefront. Both the military and the martial arts sides of my life are intertwined and complement each other.
I also train in martial arts for the fitness benefits as well. Training has greatly improved my cardiovascular fitness and — at 40 — put me in the best shape of my life. My strength has increased from the calisthenics usually employed within training but in a more practical, usable manner than just lifting weights. The techniques I have been taught have shown me how to use my strength more effectively.
The biggest benefit for me, though, is that training in Kempo has helped me deal both physically and mentally with my biggest challenge in life. That challenge…I have Parkinson’s disease. At first, when I was diagnosed, I thought life was basically over. Exercise, martial arts, or anything else was the last thing on my mind. All I could think about was that my wife and children were going to watch me deteriorate and die. I decided to do some research and a lot of praying. Through my research I found a great saying, “you will die with Parkinson’s not from it.” I also found that exercise greatly helps relieve the symptoms.
Aside from working with your doctor, one of the most important things you can do to treat Parkinson’s is exercise. The benefits of exercise in helping people feel better and improving overall health are well-known. There is evidence that exercise may hold specific benefits for people with Parkinson’s in staying active and relatively limber, and improving balance and motor coordination. For Parkinson’s disease, exercise can slow down cognitive decline and improve the affected motor symptoms. I started exercising, put my son in Kempo, and eventually started training in Kempo as well — I could not be happier.
Physical activity has benefits…and I found these benefits in Kempo. Yes the medications have helped, but I have found that the specific movements in Kempo, especially the Kempo techniques and forms, have greatly improved my dexterity and speed in my affected limbs. My Parkinson’s mostly affects my right hand. When I first came to Potomac Kempo, my right hand was slow and very weak. My movement was not good at all. Through the last two plus years training at Potomac Kempo, my hand speed has greatly improved and so has the strength and overall ability of that hand. While it will never be 100%, my doctor has told me I have improved from around 40% usage to approximately 80% or better. My overall coordination, balance, and flexibility have improved and have made me stronger physically and mentally. I have actually been told I move well for a big guy!!
Thanks to the physical and mental benefits Kempo has given me, most people do not even know — and are extremely surprised when they find out — that I have Parkinson’s.
The final benefit for me is getting to share Kempo with my children. My oldest son, Robert, actually started training before me. I have watched him grow and I could not be prouder. Getting to work with him and practice at home has been awesome. He will be testing for his green stripe belt the week before I test for my black belt — I couldn’t tell you who was more excited when he found out…him or me. When I told him that I was testing for my black belt…same thing. He was so happy for me. I feel that Kempo has not only been something we share, but brings us closer together and will be something we will always have. My daughter, Bella, who is three, now trains as well. Again, I could not be prouder. I cannot wait to see her grow through her training and to see where she takes it. Looking at her, I remember Robert’s first lessons and how far he has come. I am excited to watch Bella do the same thing.Please follow us on. . . . . . thank you!