“Sighted people do not know
the way the sightless come and go;
They seldom seem to understand
what light can be in this dark land
Where ears can hear and noses smell
Much more than sight could ever tell,
Where touch and taste answers true
to questions sight may think it knew.
Better senses, some believe,
are those four left they can’t conceive
That better use of senses remaining
Makes the world a place for gaining
Knowledge, understanding, strength–
I surely could go on at length,
But best I stop and leave with you
The thought I hope I’ve gotten through;
That though they see less with the eye,
they ‘see’ much more then you and I.”
– – Patti Cataruzolo
I read an very interesting and heartfelt story the other day in the Hartford Courant called “Seeing Life as Good“. It was the story of a Hockey Coach, David Cataruzolo, and his inspiration, his parents. The above poem was written by his Mother, Patti Cataruzolo. His story and her poem has been replaying in my mind since the reading.
In the Martial Arts we are supposed to teach us about spirit, independence, faith, respect and courage. I often wonder how many students actually learn these principles? Many people do not think of the Martial Arts (or any sport for that matter) as a path to faith or the spiritual, they are wrong. Through our own physical trials, success and failure, we grow and connect with something greater then ourselves. Many choose to ignore this and indulge in the base pleasures of life. This is a growing problem with our so called athlete role models. It is refreshing to read about a coach, a shaper of young men, who holds to these ideals.
As Martial Artists there is much we can learn from the above poem. At a basic level it reminds us to trust things other then our eyes which so often do deceive. All is not as it appears and our eyes can often seal our fate. If we look upon an opponent with trepidation then we are doomed to fail for we quit before we started. Periodically I have my students practice blindfolded. This is an exercise in perception and it is a powerful tool. At first students learn how much they depend on their eyes and how little they trust themselves. As they progress they learn to use their other senses and their self trust improves. Sparring blindfolded is perhaps the biggest hurtle a student faces. Yes sparring. Obviously the sighted opponent has an advantage but the exercise trains the student to use their other senses. It expands their situational awareness making them observant regardless of sight.
Like the line in Patti Cataruzolo’s poem, increase your “Knowledge, understanding, strength” by opening yourself to a new world where independence and trust take on new meaning. Maybe in the process you will learn to respect the plight of others different then yourself.