I’ve known Paul since we were in Kindergarten. I’m so happy that he has finally received a Black Belt, ater all the years of listening to his stories about how he wanted to learn Taekwondo. After all, no one takes a kid seriously who cannot walk, when they claim they'd like to master such skills. Paul spent much of his time pretending that he could. He would watchn and study anything involving Karate.
It’s hard growing up with Spina Bifida. You are in the hospital a lot. Paul had to wear braces that went up to his chest. He had very little movement. The day finally came that he’d been waiting for. He graduated to different braces that only went up to his knee. He was finally free of those shackles that had kept him from his dreams. Learning how to walk with crutches is a little scary, a little fun, and not for the faint hearted, but he mastered his new braces & crutches. Now Paul could finally focus on Taekwondo.
Paul was very popular among the girls in High School, and his passion he'd held for so many years slowly faded away. Shortly after High School, he married Amy and they began their life together, but after 17 years together they separated. Dealing with the stress of an impending divorce, he decided to go to his favorite burger joint. It was the place he and his dad had gone to when Paul was young.
That was the fateful day. He ran into an instructor at the local school “The Art of Karate." Heidi gave Paul the information and encouraged him to check it out. He did and three years later, on February 16, 2012, Paul received his back belt. He is the second person born with a disability to receive a black belt from “The Art of Karate."
Paul received more than just encouragement for his abilities in Karate. He has met people there that care about him. They changed his life with their encouragement, and he changed theirs with his heart and dedication to the craft of Karate.
Two years into his Karate, Paul was assaulted. In the process, due to all he'd learned, he severally dislocated the mugger’s elbow. He gives thanks to all his instructors who encouraged him, and never once passed judgment on what he could or couldn’t do. Parents raising children with disabilities tend to be over-protective. But Paul's example should encourage us to let them try just like everyone else. If you don’t, they’ll never have the confidence as an adult to become the person they are meant to be.
Paul spent many years thinking he couldn’t do this and that. Even when he first started at “The Art of Karate”, he had those voices inside his head telling him he couldn’t possibly be any good. He worried that the instructors and other students would give him special treatment, which he didn’t want. He wanted to earn his black belt on his own.
Eventually, those voices stopped. One tragic night, Paul called me pretty late, which he never does. He said his dad had been murdered, or at least that was the initial impression. Angry, he spent all of his time trying to find out what really happened to his dad. Sadly, they never did find out. Paul started working out harder, getting stronger, and slowly started teaching himself ways of self protection.
Now he was evenn more dedicated to his Karate practice and gave it all he had. Soon after changing his diet/workout regimine, he realized he could help the disabled community protect themselves, so he started “Criptaedo” First he set up a Facebook page, followed by a You Tube channel, and you can also find him on Twitter.
Paul focuses on health and fitness. If requested however, he will demonstrate his skills in Karate. He gives disabled kids hope that if he can do Karate, they can too. Adults gravitate to him because he is changing the standard of what a disabled person can achieve and giving them hope that they can change their lives as well.
Paul is passionate about public speaking, and he is studying to be a personal trainer alongside his dream of opening his own dojo where disabled adults and kids can come and workout with specialized equipment.