Russell Redenbaugh of Philadelphia, Pa., doesn't let vision loss slow him down for a moment. And he enjoys his active lifestyle with his black Lab Guide Dog Coulter from Guide Dogs for the Blind.
"Some people think they're too old to take on something new," Russell said. “I got my first Guide Dog when I was in my 40s, and it's a decision I haven't regretted. When I turned 50, I challenged myself to take up the sport of Brazilian jujitsu. Turning 50 just meant that I'd run out of excuses why I couldn't do it today.
"The sport calls for an agile mind and body, favoring those who can strategize over those who depend on brute strength. It's similar to judo in that it involves throws, and, like wrestling, it involves joint locks, choke-holds and is fought mostly on the ground.
"After winning three gold medals, two silver and one bronze in World Champion-ships, as well as first place in Nationals, I've decided to retire, but I will continue to train and teach.
"The skill that I have in jujitsu translates to the rest of my life in the way I walk in the world. I possess a quiet confidence that shows up in the board room as well as on the boardwalk.
"And of course, with me on the boardwalk is Coulter, my Guide Dog. If I were to compare the similarities and differences between sparing with my partner on the mat and the relationship I have with my dog, it's interesting. In guidework, you sense your dog's position, posture and behavior—it's the same as you do with your opponent on the mat. In guidework you encourage your dog to do the right thing, but with jujitsu, it's the opposite—you want to induce your opponent to make a mistake.
"Taking on new challenges is what it's all about in sports as well as in guidework. Being able to pick up that harness handle and walk across six lanes of traffic is as challenging as taking on someone 50-60 pounds heavier than you. In both cases, you have to trust your skill and training.
"Today, I believe in myself. I agree with [life coach] Tony Robbins who said, 'I have found that whether you believe you can, or believe you can't, you are usually right.'"