Martial Arts and Disability

gkygrl

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I am a woman with Multiple Sclerosis (diagnosed in 2002 and ambulatory now but retired from Corporate life and a job in IT).

I was wondering if there are other people on the board with MS or other physical disabilities and wondered how you came upon your decision to study, what kind of challenges you have faced and how your studies are going.

I am getting ready to begin Combat Hapkido in February or March (I have a thyroid surgery I need to get through and make sure my neck muscles are in good enough shape to start). I chose Combat Hapkido over Tae Kwon Do specifically because of a familiarity aspect. Back in the 80's I was in the Army and was a SWAT trained MP. This "genre" really seems to resonate with me and seems very attainable since this method is even taught to people with varying levels of disability. I feel like it is a method I could be involved with for a long time and I also feel it is extremely useful from the aspect of self-defense. I would love to even aspire to teach others with disabilities as I progress towards and past blackbelt.

Big aspirations, I know :)

Anyway -- are there others out there that deal with disabilities and have walked or are walking the journey of martial arts of some form or another.

I would love to hear your story.

Happy Holidays!

Diana
 

Kacey

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I don't have a disability myself, but I do have several students who do - one with cerebral palsy and a cognitive delay, one with Down's, and one with back and neck problems. They are treated like everyone else, except that there are certain things each one cannot do - but they get better all the time. Like everyone else in the class, they are compared both to an objective standard and to improvement when compared to their starting point.

When I tested for IV Dan I wrote my thesis on teaching students with disabilities and long/short term injuries - I have attached it to this post.

Happy training, and please tell us how it's going!
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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I'm a chatterbox, I know.

Just a little background on why I have decided to study now, at the age of 42, when I have not done any formal martial arts since I was 18-19.

I have a thyroid issue that they think is cancerous (surgery is 1/9/08). With MS, this is one more challenge along the way. I feel like there is no better time than the present to set such a goal (to get my blackbelt) and work towards it. I want to increase my confidence, my strength, balance -- and fitness levels in a way that embraces a philosophy and will spill over into other aspects of my life.

My health situation warrants that I take a "combat" stance and fight like heck. I feel studying Combat Hapkido is one physical way I can manifest that fight and stay healthy and THINK healthy. My mindset has kept me from progressing more with MS.

That's my story :)
 

SFC JeffJ

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Back in '94 I fell of a cliff during an FTX while in the Army. Mucked up my hip pretty good.

Right now I study jujutsu and some of the footwork can be tough. I can usually, with help from my instuctor, find a way to work around it.

Jeff
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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Kacey,

Thank you -- I can't wait to read your thesis!
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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SFCJeff - are you a disabled vet, do you receive compensation for your injury which sounds totally service-connected? I am 100% disabled with service-connected MS (but I had a motorcycle accident while on duty as an MP and was retired at 19).

I hope that hip is ok and you get the types of benefits you deserve.
 

SFC JeffJ

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SFCJeff - are you a disabled vet, do you receive compensation for your injury which sounds totally service-connected? I am 100% disabled with service-connected MS (but I had a motorcycle accident while on duty as an MP and was retired at 19).

I hope that hip is ok and you get the types of benefits you deserve.
Yeah, I'm a disabled vet. I was retired after 10 years in. They've taken pretty good care of me thankfully. I hope they do the same for you!
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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Yeah, I'm a disabled vet. I was retired after 10 years in. They've taken pretty good care of me thankfully. I hope they do the same for you!

:-offtopic

Yes, the VA has taken tremendously good care of me. Right now they provide an Independent Living Plan for me since I am "unemployable" (I was an engineer and have some cognitive deficit due to MS as well as tremendous fatigue and other issues). The VA has been good and fair. They support me in pursuing hobbies for fun.
I've helped several people get benefits too since it can be a crazy system to traverse. Best wishes from a Sister Vet. Thanks for serving!
 

Guardian

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Ok, answer me this due to this VA stuff is a nightmare to get through sometimes. How is it your MS is service connected? or was it that you acquired it while on active duty, I'm kind of lost on that aspect of it?

Either way, I think it's great for people with disabilities to take the Martial Arts and strive and achieve their goals and then to pass those achievements on to others in the same boat.

Keep on striving and achieving, it's definately a goal to be proud of.
 

ArmorOfGod

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First, welcome to the group.
Next, here are some links you may like:

http://www.disma.co.uk/Links.htm

I have several more and will add them later to this thread (when I dig them up). Still, I wanted to keep that link seperate since it leads to so many disability martial arts sites.

AoG
 

ktaylor75

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I am not disabled in any way, however, I do have asthma and lyme disease. My asthma kicks my butt during classes, and therefore I keep my rescue inhaler close by at all times. My lyme disease has caused severe arthritis in my joints, especially my ankles, fingers, knees, and hips. I must say that when I began in martial arts 2 months ago, I wasn't sure if I would be able to stick with it due to the pain and severe stiffness in my joints. There are times when it is so bad that I can not stand, nor walk...literally crawling on hands and knees just to use the restroom. I know that lyme disease is a far cry from what you are going through, gkygrl, but I must say though, I am happy that I have stuck with it. I still have much pain in my knees, and probably more than I did before I began, but I must add that I have more flexibility than ever before, and my hip joints are no longer causing me to crawl on all fours. I have said all that to say basically that the benefits gained from practicing martial arts (improved flexibility, strength, confidence, an outlet for my stress, weight-loss, walking erect..lol, and a few more) outweigh the drawbacks (2-3 asthma attacks a week and increased knee pain).

For me, the way I see it is that I was in pain and limited before beginning in karate, so now I have fun along the way. Somehow the pain is just more bearable when it is caused by doing something I love, rather than just by circumstances in life. I remember having had the shingles a year ago, and being in excrutiating pain. It hurt just to be clothed, and tylenol and motrin did nothing for the pain. My docs did not wanted to admit me to the hospital, but being a single mother of 2 kids, who would have watched them? Who would have paid my bills? ...."No workie no eatie." Better to go to work in pain and bring home paycheck, than stay home in pain and be broke and starve

My whole point is this, if you truly want to do something (and are physically able to), then you will not let life get in your way. If your doc says it is okay to get involved with martial arts, then I say go for it, and strive to accomplish everything you can along the way. Where you put your passion, there you will find the strength to persevere in whatever it is you set out to accomplish. I wish you the very best in your endeavor to earn your black belt! Good luck! :)
 
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On another forum there was a person posting because they were really upset because they were part way through their black belt test and they were told that no one was to ever teach a student with disabilities, and if they were caught they'd be banned from the orginization and have their rank revoked etc. That person left the school and is currently looking for another place to train, but it kinda' bothers me that there are places out there that would do that.
 

Tez3

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On another forum there was a person posting because they were really upset because they were part way through their black belt test and they were told that no one was to ever teach a student with disabilities, and if they were caught they'd be banned from the orginization and have their rank revoked etc. That person left the school and is currently looking for another place to train, but it kinda' bothers me that there are places out there that would do that.

That's awful! My instructor has a friend who teaches blind people Judo,we have had several people with various degrees of disability train with us. Anyway, if only perfectly fit and healthy people train how many people would that actually be? I have a friend who is very short sighted and can't wear contacts, sparring without her glasses is a trial for her,another person I know is deaf in one ear, very small disabilities perhaps? but nonetheless we all have our restrictions and things we can't do so how dare anyone say people with disabilities can't train! especially as this person is obviously able to train up to blackbelt level, I'd walk out I'm afraid if any club/organisation said that.
If you can, Perpetual White Belt can you let us know if this person finds anothe place to train?
 

searcher

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On another forum there was a person posting because they were really upset because they were part way through their black belt test and they were told that no one was to ever teach a student with disabilities, and if they were caught they'd be banned from the orginization and have their rank revoked etc. That person left the school and is currently looking for another place to train, but it kinda' bothers me that there are places out there that would do that.


That is rediculous. I have had students with prosthetics and other disabilities and they did great. My own mother has MS, but she does not train and I would never turn someone away because of a disability. If the person you are talking about is near Kansas, LMK and I will give them a place to train.
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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On another forum there was a person posting because they were really upset because they were part way through their black belt test and they were told that no one was to ever teach a student with disabilities, and if they were caught they'd be banned from the orginization and have their rank revoked etc. That person left the school and is currently looking for another place to train, but it kinda' bothers me that there are places out there that would do that.

That is disheartening to hear that the instructor that is teaching other people is so narrow minded! I hope that this other person finds a welcoming martial arts school that offers adaptive classes or a teacher who understands different ways of teaching. To me, it sounds like ego more than anything.

I know in the Combat Hapkido community there is an organization called the ISDA - http://www.defenseability.com/ - International Self-Defense Association. They are even working on a curriculum for the visually impaired.

I think it's awesome.

I personally would like to know what school would say such a thing -- to revoke a blackbelt. That seems extreme and is hopefully just an outlier and not near the norm. Still, if I knew of them, I would want to shout about it from the rooftops and give good reasons why people should not study there.

A person who has the will and determination should be able to study and be encouraged to study .... even if adaptations need to be made.
 
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gkygrl

gkygrl

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I am not disabled in any way, however, I do have asthma and lyme disease. My asthma kicks my butt during classes, and therefore I keep my rescue inhaler close by at all times. My lyme disease has caused severe arthritis in my joints, especially my ankles, fingers, knees, and hips. I must say that when I began in martial arts 2 months ago, I wasn't sure if I would be able to stick with it due to the pain and severe stiffness in my joints. There are times when it is so bad that I can not stand, nor walk...literally crawling on hands and knees just to use the restroom. I know that lyme disease is a far cry from what you are going through, gkygrl, but I must say though, I am happy that I have stuck with it. I still have much pain in my knees, and probably more than I did before I began, but I must add that I have more flexibility than ever before, and my hip joints are no longer causing me to crawl on all fours. I have said all that to say basically that the benefits gained from practicing martial arts (improved flexibility, strength, confidence, an outlet for my stress, weight-loss, walking erect..lol, and a few more) outweigh the drawbacks (2-3 asthma attacks a week and increased knee pain).

For me, the way I see it is that I was in pain and limited before beginning in karate, so now I have fun along the way. Somehow the pain is just more bearable when it is caused by doing something I love, rather than just by circumstances in life. I remember having had the shingles a year ago, and being in excrutiating pain. It hurt just to be clothed, and tylenol and motrin did nothing for the pain. My docs did not wanted to admit me to the hospital, but being a single mother of 2 kids, who would have watched them? Who would have paid my bills? ...."No workie no eatie." Better to go to work in pain and bring home paycheck, than stay home in pain and be broke and starve

My whole point is this, if you truly want to do something (and are physically able to), then you will not let life get in your way. If your doc says it is okay to get involved with martial arts, then I say go for it, and strive to accomplish everything you can along the way. Where you put your passion, there you will find the strength to persevere in whatever it is you set out to accomplish. I wish you the very best in your endeavor to earn your black belt! Good luck! :)

KTaylor:

I am an asthmatic too. Those autoimmune diseases love to run in multiples. I have that under control though with some good meds (thank goodness). Lyme disease can be debilitating ... it sounds like you have your challenges at times! I appreciated your comments though on the fact that you would be in pain, etc without martial arts. But atleast now you can have fun and a good reason for any pain. That's a cool attitude.

Beginning my training will be a good reason for me to speed up healing after my thyroid surgery. I wish I could begin now -- but that would be silly. So instead, I am working on some flexibility exercises and some good stretches and stuff. I'm just keeping my eyes on the new journey.

Cool stuff. Keep on keeping and I will look forward to reading more about your journey. :cheers: You sound like a real trooper!
 

charyuop

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My Sensei was telling me once of a guy who studied with him Aikido in the past. Now that guy is a Black Belt (don't know what Dan) and has Parkinson's.
Moreover take a look at the following video, it is Savegnano Shihan from an Italian association of Aikido. He is 8th Dan and has only 1 leg.

Of course these are only examples that it can be done, but you and your teacher will help you in that, will need to adjust in some cases.
 
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IcemanSK

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I am a woman with Multiple Sclerosis (diagnosed in 2002 and ambulatory now but retired from Corporate life and a job in IT).

I was wondering if there are other people on the board with MS or other physical disabilities and wondered how you came upon your decision to study, what kind of challenges you have faced and how your studies are going.

I am getting ready to begin Combat Hapkido in February or March (I have a thyroid surgery I need to get through and make sure my neck muscles are in good enough shape to start). I chose Combat Hapkido over Tae Kwon Do specifically because of a familiarity aspect. Back in the 80's I was in the Army and was a SWAT trained MP. This "genre" really seems to resonate with me and seems very attainable since this method is even taught to people with varying levels of disability. I feel like it is a method I could be involved with for a long time and I also feel it is extremely useful from the aspect of self-defense. I would love to even aspire to teach others with disabilities as I progress towards and past blackbelt.

Big aspirations, I know :)

Anyway -- are there others out there that deal with disabilities and have walked or are walking the journey of martial arts of some form or another.

I would love to hear your story.

Happy Holidays!

Diana


Hi Diana,

I has Cerebral Palsy that affects my right arm & right leg. I've had it my whole life. I started MA at 14. Originally, I noticed it was a great help to my flexibilty & strength. It still does 25 years later. I don't consider it a disability, but I do consider it teribly inconvienent, sometimes. This thought process has helped me to frame my outlook on it. I've been helped a great deal by instructors, but never allowed to have a "pass" because of my issues. For that, I am grateful.

In my organization, there is a school run by friends that is designed to be sensitive to folks with disabilities both physical & mental. The focus of the program is to know as much about each student's issues & adapt as needed.

I wish you all the best in your journey in MA. My prayers are with you in your upcoming surgery & for a speedy recovery.
 

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