We all have limits. Sometimes our limits expand. Sometimes they contract. I know I can’t reach anything on the top shelves in my kitchen. Not even on my tippy toes. But, I can get a step stool to aid me in reaching the top shelf.
In September 2003, I fractured my ankle at an Aikido seminar. I was thrown into the same spot as another student. As I was coming up from my roll, I could see that if I left my foot out, it would end up in his teeth. Not being experienced enough at the time I pulled my foot back on instinct rather than opening myself up to the side. Pain shot through upon impact with the mat.
This kept me off the mat for a class or two. My doctor didn’t find anything on the x-rays and put me on crutches. Meanwhile, I sat on the sidelines during class itching to be back on the mat. I couldn’t take it and started thinking of ways to practice. There are techniques in seated positions that we learned. If we could do some, why couldn’t I do all of the techniques we learned in seated positions? I had to adapt to a physical limitation. I got back on the mat and fellow aikidoka willing to work with my own limitations happily partnered with me and our sensei helped me make adjustments as needed.
An orthopedist finally found the fracture and put a cast on my leg just to help the healing even though I had been walking around without it for 3 weeks.
I took my blue belt test with my cast on. This included some Tai Chi, which also took some adjusting on my part to ensure I was doing it properly with a different balance. The founder of our dojos was at the test and commented that he had never seen anyone do Tai Chi with a cast on. A proud moment for me as I knew my determination to not let a limitation keep me down.
I no longer had the limitation once the cast came off, but I did have another skill set. As did my fellow aikidoka who worked with me during that time. Your limits are only defined by what you believe they are.