Rolling With The Punches… From His Wheelchair
June 18, 2007
I found yet another very inspirational story of the resiliency, mental toughness and perseverance of the men and women serving in our Country’s Armed Forces. Perseverance, even in the face of life-changing disabilities that many would give up because of. It’s stories that this that should show the world the kind of people that our country’s Armed Forces are made up of. People, who despite terrible and devastating injuries, overcome those hurdles and continue to fight the good fight, and succeed at doing so. Meet Joe Beimfohr.
He can twist your arm out of it’s socket and put you on the ground before you realize what happened to you. He can do this from the confines of his wheelchair. Joe Beimfohr, lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb attack in Iraq and is mastering the martial arts as part of his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“The big fear you have when you first get in that wheelchair is that you can’t defend yourself, you can’t run away,” the Army veteran said. “But now I know I can.”
Beimfohr has been sharing his martial arts techniques with other patients at Walter Reed. He’s teaching other amputees that not only can they protect themselves, but also helping to boost their self-esteem. Friday, Beimfohr and his instructor, Vietnam veteran Bob Kunkle, demonstrated Joe’s skills at Walter Reed’s gym. From his wheelchair, Beimfohr showed off his skills to new patients at Walter Reed. He demonstrated how by using the wheelchairs leverage that he can break a man’s arm or flip him onto his back. Kunkle knows full well the uncertainties of suddenly finding yourself wheelchair bound. A 20 plus year martial arts master, he himself wears a brace and foot prosthetic and has been volunteering his services at Walter Reed for several years. In the past he taught his techniques to amputees from the standing position - that is until he met Beimfohr. Now he’s working out of a wheelchair during many of the sessions, developing new holds and strikes that work better from the lower position.
“All of the angles are different, so you need to approach it differently,” he said. “These guys are really my teachers. They’re showing me different ways to do this and understand the anatomy.”
Beimfohr’s disability hasn’t slowed him down in the least. He recently retired from the military due to his injuries and is now working for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. He still manages to regularly visit the hospital, in order to share his experiences and convince others not to give up, that they still have a bright future.
“When they see someone in a wheelchair put another guy on the ground, it gives me instant credit with them,” he said. “In just one session we can show these guys a lot of different ideas, and that can make a huge difference to them.”