Should martial art schools accept disabled people

Discussion in 'Disabled Martial Artists' started by kungfu_charlie, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. dect69

    dect69 New Member

    I think the thing to remember (and I believe Rebecca covered most of these points) is that you HAVE to treat each case as individual! My youngest (who is 2.5 years at the mo') has Downs Syndrome with a heart defect. Her abilities are completely different to other children at the same age with DS - so you are unable to say - this person has DS therefore X, Y and Z will happen!

    She comes along every day my other two train and she is currently desperate to get on to the mats and participate! The head instructor is already looking forward to having her there! And we know that it help with her physically and mentally! (plus you grab a pair of focus pads she'll hit them!! :) )

    But, as I said, you must remember to treat people on a person by person basis. Even within the Special Olympics there are problems with, for example, swimming categories! At the moment someone who is deaf but in excellent physical shape can compete in the same category as someone with DS who is, more than like, to have some degree of low muscle tone - not exactly fair even but it does show that it's important to treat each as an individual not a category.
  2. prowla

    prowla Valued Member

    I guess the other side is how will it affect the training of the "able bodied" people?
    The fact is that those people need to be pushed to the limit to progress, and the ability of a disabled partner to do that will be diminished in accordance with their disability.
    Practicioners would also need to act with restraint when facing a disabled person - can you imagine how devastated you would be if you did further damage to a physically disabled person? I guess there is some kind of notional scale, ranging from deafness (virtually no impact on ability), to being in a wheelchair (severe impact).
    We have three people in our class who you have to be careful with: one is a young lady who has several difficulties, the second is an excellent (!!!) karateka who got his arm badly injured in kumite (and I'm petrified of touching it), and the third is a youth who has fragile knees (and I hurt him a few weeks back by doing a slight sweep - only one to take the balance, not dump him on the floor).
    I've previously blown a grading because I was scared of hitting my opponent, and they tagged me easily and basically made me look bad.

    My Yoga teacher uses a term "restriction" to refer to any kind of limitation that will impede your ability to do the designated actions.
    It's a really good neutral term.
    In my case I have several restrictions: I'm 46, have creaking joints, have had a knee operation, am permanently carrying at least two injuries (that I could easily use as an excuse to give up), am overweight, my eyesight is deteriorating, my reflexes are slow, and I have poor stamina.
    I don't know if a fortysomething trying to pretend they're 19 counts as a disability too? :rolleyes:

    On a final note, I guess if there were too many disabled people in a class, it would probably mean that the able bodied people wouldn't get out of it what they need to, and so they would probably move on.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2006
  3. KungFuGrrrl

    KungFuGrrrl Valued Member

  4. narcsarge

    narcsarge Masticated Whey

    Brava young lady. Having been an instructor in swimming, fire arms, hand to hand combat, and the like I agree. Knowing or learning about body mechanics and the body in motion can significantly impact the disabled student. You will start to teach them what they "CAN" do and limit what they can't. Nothing better for self esteem and confidence. Good on ya KFG!
  5. darkcloud

    darkcloud New Member

    why argue the cons?

    the thing is no one is saying, if class could be this dangerous for the induvidual, then what about the streets? the arts could improve cognitave focus in the disabled so if someone tried to harm them they could at least shrug them off enough to get to help. not to mention it would teach your students compassion and restraint. i mean what if your students had to fight someone they didn't want to hurt? the risks are in-numerable for us and them. the equality is that we have take the same risks, you could be as smart as einstien and as brawny as the hulk and still get beat stupid and w/in an inch of your life by a disabled ma. involve them in every aspect(condition permiting) but they shouldn't be pampered b/c there is not equality in that.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2006
  6. Rebecca

    Rebecca New Member

    Excellent point

    This is an essential point to make, and you stated it well.

    I recall seeing a kata (one that I know well) adapted for a man in a wheel chair. Unfortunately, that particular adaptation did not take into consideration the application of the kata and rendered some of the techniques not only useless but dangerous. If I were going to teach a student in a wheelchair, I would want to know, among other things, the most common attacks wheelchair-bound individuals experience, what body parts are most frequently targeted, how the wheelchair can be used as a weapon, how to reduce the person's vulnerability to attack, etc., etc. This particular kata adaptation did not seem to address those issues. In fact, I thought it made the person in the wheelchair even more vulnerable. Example: after every punch, the man dropped both hands in order to propel his wheelchair forward. In the actual kata, there were steps forward; however, these steps were taken while pushing the opponent, off-balancing him, and blocking any attempt at a counter-attack. In the wheelchair version, the kata seemed to assume that the attacker would just wait there patiently and passively, without any attempt at counter-attack, for the person in the wheelchair to get in closer and launch another technique. It was as if the person adapting the kata had merely tried to make it "look" like the regular version, without taking bunkai into consideration.
  7. BentMonk

    BentMonk Valued Member

    My Point Exactly

    I too have seen techniques rendered useless by quick and simple adaptation. In fact as Rebecca stated, the adaptation is basic mimicry rather than effective martial customization. This type of thing is dangerous because it instills a false sense of confidence. So I say to anyone studying MA disabled or not, if your training does not include strength training, endurance training, and application of techniques against a live resisting opponent, find a new place to train before you get hurt.
  8. PopeCoyote

    PopeCoyote The words of the fool

    I vote yes- one of my first MA clubs, Challenge Karate Club at Purdue University (Shotokan Karate), was founded by someone taught by Sensei Tony Johnson, who founded the Challenge Foundation and taught Karate to disabled people. In fact, our sensei talked a lot about how Sensei Tony taught to people in wheelchairs.
  9. FightingMonk2k3

    FightingMonk2k3 Valued Member

    honestly, i think martial arts instructors should allow disabled people to join up. if they did not, then i wouldn't be in the martial arts. i have 1 eye that has been cut in half when i was very young, and i've had to deal w/ only being able to use 1 eye since then. the instructors that i had while i was w/ the Villari Shaolin Kempo system, did modify the sparring terms for me when i sparred. they just told the other student of my injury and to just to watch out for strikes to my head.
  10. BentMonk

    BentMonk Valued Member

    Back On Track

    O.K. Let's get this thread back on track. As long as the instructor is willing and compotent, and the disabled student is safely intergrated into the class, of course a MA school school accept a disabled student. :D
  11. KickChick

    KickChick Valued Member

    Thank you BentMonk :)

    I posted a new thread today here in the DMA forum (Seido) wherein I will quote Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, the founder of Seido:

    He has taught blind and deaf students, as well as others with physical and mental impairments.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2006
  12. KaratekaAndy

    KaratekaAndy Male (95% of the time)

    Anyone who takes an interest in the MA should be allowwed to become a student, regardless of other factors - Equal Rights leads to an Equal World :Angel:
  13. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    Having never tutored someone with disabilities I approach this debate with a very naive but open minded attitude.

    As a student of a martial art I would expect that for someone else (one’s instructor) to teach it competently they would need to be trained to do so; likewise when teaching children, specific considerations must be made, including a child specific coaching award which supplements the initial adult course, now; I would assume that to be able to competently teach a worth-while set of skills to a person with disabilities, a number of considerations (and a number of specific assessments) should be made to cater for the disability and, to cater for the able-bodied students who will act as training partners. Perhaps I present the obvious but I know the three organisations I belong to have Adult and Children's coaching awards, but none of them cater for teaching instructors how to cater for students with disability.

    In one respect the carrying out of additional risk assessments should be done and, when looking specifically at the disability, formation of a particular training program which will accommodate (without patronisation) the specific abilities of the individual.

    Providing the rational behind teaching disabled students is exactly the same as it is for others; I can't really see a major problem.

    Looking forward to hearing from you guys.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2006
  14. BentMonk

    BentMonk Valued Member

    Well Said

    Great post Dave. Being both a disabled student and teacher, I have been blessed with a unique perspective. I also have been fortunate in having the knowledge of doctors, physical therapists, and occupational therapists to draw upon. With their help, I can be sure that MA training does not adversely affect my students. Hopefully I can provide them with MA training that is as effective as it is rewarding.
  15. canemaster

    canemaster New Member

    Hi Everyone/Thoughts/Physically Challened In Tournaments, Etc.

    Hi Everyone-THANK YOU for accepting me as a member of MAP :) I will start here because I have Cerebral Palsy and even before I was a member, I saw that this forum was loaded for bear. I'm glad that the vast majority understand that we "physically challenged" folk deserve the opportunity to participate at all times. If we're talking about a minor, obviously the parents/guardians should work with instructors to see that the experience is fun for the child-especially in group classes. I know even as an adult I sometimes feel like I am slowing a class or a person down because it takes longer for me to do certain things, or because I'll have different warmup exercises than others because of the spasticity (tightness caused by damage to my nervous system) in my back and legs. I study Kempo Jujitsu and Cane Self Defense (have the last three years) and the TOUGHEST thing about the experience is realizing I have to be the best person/whatever Belt I'm testing for, and NOT worry about what, say, Kick Chick (no matter how beautiful as she appears in photo and kind words- :)) or other students are doing. To their credit, my senseis have modified my instruction to enhance my upper body strength while improving my leg balance and movement. Still, I've not done much grappling because if I fall in a confrontation-PROBLEM. BUT-I've learned things with the cane that most students DO NOT. So my current Blue Belt is well earned.
    I have found that it sometimes takes a special kind of teacher to work with someone with limitations. Years ago, I tried Tae Kwon Do-YES-too much kicking-but I was always sent to a corner of a room while the other students were going through the class, as I tried to simply master a front kick. The teachers, though quite knowledgeable, didn't know how to handle me. Here I was, a college educated professional, made to feel less than.
    Years later, I met in Kempo Jujitsu instructors who have extensive experience with the elderly and disabled and who quite honestly have more faith in me and their students than I or perhaps their family and friends do,
    All that said-questions: Does anyone know of martial arts federations/associations in the NY area that have competitions for physically challenged adults? I ask because the NY State Martial Arts Championships are being held near me in October. But there are no "physically challenged adult" divisions, only for children. I am considering entering the 40+ forms competition (Cane Kata of course) but one of my instructors is worried-that I won't be judged fairly, but treated condescendingly ("Isn't it sweet that this guy is doing this? Let's give him a medal just for being here!" rather than "WOW, this guys got talent!" or "The potential is there if he improves technique." Do any of you out there have experiences you can relate to/share about how the "disabled" are treated in competitions?
    Of course, if I enter the forms and CLEARLY win, I'll have nothing to worry about. Looking forward to hearing from you and checking out this site, God bless you all

    canemaster (and NO, I am NOT Mark Shuey!) LOL :cool:
  16. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    Hey! I wanted to train with you at SENI, and you didn't show up. :woo:

    Oh!! Sorry about that :Angel: :D :D :D

    Great post, and I'm glad you've found the forum welcoming. Congratulations on your training so far, and good luck with the competitions :)
  17. matbla

    matbla Banned Banned

    i like and love this topic and i
    hope it keeps going on and on
    i want all karate schools to read the topic and all the replys and made
    there might be a school here in queensbury, ny that would cater to people like me
    from matt blake
  18. BentMonk

    BentMonk Valued Member

    Like Minded

    Greetings CaneMaster -

    I too have been frustrated with the lack of arena's for disabled adult MA practitioners to compete in. I have competed in several tournaments against non-disabled competitors. In most of the matches the rules were, light to medium body contact, with no head contact. I competed in both point and non-stop divisions. Everything other than the knees was a valid targets. In point it was one point for a punch, two for a kick, three for a take down followed by a punch. Non-stop consisted of two one minute rounds, and four corner judges awarding victory at the end of the second round to the fighter who scored the most clean and controlled shots. Neither of these formats were suited to my fighting style. In point I could only score one point at a time since I can't kick, and got tagged every time I went for a take down. In non-stop I couldn't make contact with my punches, so all the judges saw was me getting kicked. I did compete in one tournament the used TKD tourney rules, what a total joke. First I received a warning for throwing a totally pulled punch at my opponents head. Since the only place I could score a point was to my opponents chest, he hopped around on one leg, kicking at me and covering up his chest. I timed his kicks, grabbed his ankle, and thrust his leg up, dumping him on his pride. I was disqualified for sweeping a supporting leg. The first and only time I was able to utilize my strengths was this March at the Arnold Classic. I fought a full contact match against a disabled MMA fighter named Ron Mann. One point was scored for each strike that landed. Ground technique was limited to ten seconds if no clean submission was executed. I was fortunate to be ahead three to two when time expired. In this match my punches were obvious, and I was able to jam or deflect his kicks in order to land solid punches. Ron is a very skilled fighter and I am not so sure I would have stayed ahead in points if there had been more time on the clock. His prosthetic leg hurts when he kicks you in the head. :D Ron is working on creating a competition for disabled fighters who want to trade a little leather. While I understand the liability issues faced by organizers of tournaments, and the potential for injury faced by the fighters. However, if placed in an even with similar fighters, the risk would be no greater than any other fighter entering a ring. I have said this many times. Disabled people are more likely to need their skills in the real world than others. To teach them movements with no application is not only disrespectful, it is dangerous. What better way for them to test there ability than in the ring?

    BTW CaneMaster, do you practice defending against your own cane, and fighting without it?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2006
  19. canemaster

    canemaster New Member

    Grateful Response To Bent Monk, Daredevil, Halle Berry and Kick Chick :)

    Hi all
    Bent Monk, thank you for sharing your experiences. I believe I've heard of Ron Mann. YES-I do train both with/without the cane-which by the way, is a CANEMASTERS cane. Hence, my screen name. If I can figure out how to do it, I'll post my Blue Belt Test photo from 7-21 :)
    To answer more clearly: I started Kempo-Jujitsu about three years ago shortly after a co-worker died. I wandered into my current school when it was specifically still a Brazilian Ju Jitsu school. It just didn't seem right-just as Tae Kwon Do wasn't back in 1990. But, I noticed in 10/2003 that the school name/management had changed, so I wandered in again. The instructor didn't promise any great miracles, only that he was willing to work with me as he had other disabled people. So I went for it :)
    The first year or so especially was about my conditioning. Not that I was in bad shape for someone with Cerebral Palsy-quite the contrary-but having to lean on that cane and drop a few pounds-that made things tough. I had been a UCP competitive powerlifter in college, so I had/have upper body strength. But I could barely kick with either leg-even the left, MUCH more powerful leg. If you've ever seen the bags that have the black base and then look like this:

    Today, I can kick in the t/u range with an occaisional r with the left leg, and just get over the base with the right (Of course, if we face each other in competition Bent Monk, or if I were really blessed to face the lovely Kick Chick (prettiest and most dangerous lady on the site ;) you NOW know my weakness! BUT-both legs are tremendously stronger-even developing calf muscles I never knew existed! I think the senseis are MORE thrilled for me than I am.I did 1,501 legitimate kicks at a fundraiser the school had in June for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Last year-250 kicks.
    Still, its been no picnic-it took 15 months just to go from purple to blue belt in the school's system-because of my job and because I wanted no special treatment. The senseis even close the school each year to support the Golf Outing and fundraising dinner for the cancer foundation of the friend I mentioned earlier who had passed away. Ironically, one of the things that helped me see that I COULD keep going was the movie Daredevil. Though not to be confused with Casablanca, there was some darn good fight scenes/choreography. Plus, if I blind guy could move a cane like that, then so can I.
    While the instructors had to modify certain things (the crane stance is still next to impossible, and I can hold a horse stance for a while) pretty much anything that involves arms are OK-Until I have to move. If I stand in front to do a wrist lock or armbar-great, but if I have to step into your shoulder and lock your arm/wrist (as if I had to throw you) I have to work on maintaing balance. I LOVE choke holds-the arms are plenty strong-but manuvering and balance, though a lot better, are issues.
    I have done very little grappling (more Kempo than Jujitsu). Early on, I tried to roll out of a guard. My left leg didn't move, and I nearly snapped my hamstring! The sensei said that had I not been working regularly to stretch the leg, I would have broken it. He wants to get back to doing grappling with me now that I have reached blue belt status. But we do standup/freestyle with cane/without-how to grab a person and take momentum to push out of way. One instructor in particular has told me to think of my cane the way Batman thinks of his utility belt-OR on Highlander, how Duncan McLeod thinks of his sword-one day it may be only friend I have. My hand strikes are good but not fast-with the cane, its both. Think strikes like you would a bo staff, plus a cane with a nasty hook-WHOA! The lead sensei at school wants to be a certified cane instructor. There are lots of stuff that can be done.
    Bent Monk, the BIGGEST issues are CONTROL-I still don't know my own strength, and have hit both instructors a bit too hard with a cane or elbow-and CONFIDENCE. Until this summer, most of my lessons were private. Now, I can't get frustrated when a 16 year old yellow belt does the Bo Staff routine better than I do.
    I'm also learning a Kata-kata chi ich (If I mispelt, please forgive) with/without the cane. That is the form I may do at the NY State Martial Arts Championship IF I am able to compete. No matter what, I wouldn't trade my martial arts experiences, no matter how limited, for a date with Halle Berry or Kick Chick (Ok, I digress!) I want to keep learning all I can. I wish I had understood that years ago, but there's no time like the present, aka NOW. Maybe life began at 38 rather than 40. Be well, my next class is in 9 hours :)

  20. Tommy-2guns...

    Tommy-2guns... southpaw glassjaw

    i train disabled students even though i am not trained to teach such people, i teach self defence to a man in a wheel chair and a man with one arm which is verry verry short and the other normal size (although the conditions name escapes me), i think that disabled students just take a little more planning and consideration when deciding what techniques to teach them, i make sure they know what i teach the other class members but then i also take them aside for a while in training and teach them specific technqiues which are only applicable to them in their condition.

    i think to alienate them from the rest of the class is verry wrong, so i let them try every technique even if its not relaly effective for them but thats more of a morale thing. i find training disabled people refreshing and makes you evaluate techniques that little extra.

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