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fremoy 09-11-2010 09:49 PM

teaching the blind
 
Hi everyone

we have a blind student starting, does anyone have experience they can share?

Thanks
Mark

Peter Goldsbury 09-11-2010 10:30 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
A blind student took part several times in the seminars I gave in the Netherlands. He had learned ukemi and basic taisabaki at his local dojo. At the seminar, one of the dojo members acted as his minder and usually his partner. They were always alert if he trained with someone new.
Whenever I demonstrated a technique, I would always go and get him from the line-up, bring him out to the front and demonstrate on him, making sure his posture was OK and that he knew where his hands and feet needed to be. After demonstrating, I made him do the technique as well and took ukemi from him.
He had a guide dog, which would normally doze at the side of the mat, but clearly enjoyed the attention she received during the seminar.

Best wishes,

PAG

Shannon Frye 09-12-2010 01:23 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Mark,
I had a blind youth in my class for a while, and found it beneficial to focus on tai sabaki.

As for techniques, a few times I had the other students be blindfolded, and try to work through various basic techniques. It was enriching for us to try and 'feel' our way through (focusing on not losing contact with uke), rather than rely on how we normally 'see' ourselves doing a technique. It also increased empathy and allowed the students to connect on a different level.

Best of luck to both of you!

Shannon Frye

brian donohoe 09-12-2010 02:59 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
We had a few people who had visual imparments in a club I trained in a few years back. As far as I rember once they were orientated in the dojo they used to just turn up like the rest of us. As far as training goes they only trained with some of the senior students So that they got more focused attention. All there instruction was either verbal or through touch (touch the leg you want them to move, uke would lead their arm movement.). Also as far as I rember if they had a colapseable cane they used this some times (folded) as a guide for their hand coordination (like we would use a bokken). The ukemi practice was broken down a lot, how to kneel down, how to sit down, how to lie back, that tyoe of thing. There was also a big point made about ensuring that they had a big input about how they learnt. Oh and they may have had some private lessons with the sensei before hand (not sure about this) and the first time they oriented them selves in the dojo there may only have been them and the sensei there.
Contact the woman at this dojo. She works for the blind council of Ireland http://www.herondojo.com/

Good luck with it.

niall 09-12-2010 04:22 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Another thing you can try when you're teaching is doing the techniques a few extra times slowly with someone else as uke and with the blind student's hands on your waist.

On a general point safety is really important. There should be no chance of a collision with the blind student or the blind student's uke during a throw.

Erik Calderon 09-12-2010 11:43 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Why not put on a blindfold and experience for yourself what it's like to practice without being able to see.

It's a lot of fun, and seems to develop a very powerful way to "feel" the technique.

Erik Calderon
http://www.escalderonmartialarts.com

Brad Myers 09-13-2010 06:25 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I trained with a blind student a few years ago. When I met him, he was already an intermediate student, so I don't know how his early training went.

However, to help him understand my range at the start of a technique, I would call out "I'm about here" and clap my hands once or twice. This would give my opponent a rough idea where I was at.

He could do all the techniques of a normally sighted student. Just required a few extra minutes of practice.

Linda Eskin 09-13-2010 02:03 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I don't know if this would be useful, but some blind equestrians have used a stationary source of sound (like a radio) at one end of the arena to help orient themselves to direction. You probably wouldn't want a radio playing during class, but maybe something else (wind chimes, a fan...) to give them an auditory point of reference would be helpful.

Janet Rosen 09-13-2010 02:10 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I don't know about beginners but I've trained with 2 intermediate to advanced blind students and the one thing I learned fast was: maintain physical or energetic connection at all times or risk one heck of an atemi! :-) The main thing really was that as nage I really had to take full responsibility for clear landing spaces.

Russ Q 09-13-2010 02:19 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Allen Wynne in my town is blind and teaching aikido and systema. While I no longer train with him I find him an exemplary individual. Very aware, very intuitive. Check out what he does at www.gibsonsaikido.com

Cheers,

Russ

shakou 09-14-2010 06:25 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I was at a seminar a few years ago for Sensei Jon Stokoes 40th year in aikido and one of the Sensei who was instructing was blind. I forget if this was from birth but it had been a considerable time and he leaned aikido while he was blind. He was really good, 2nd dan if I remember right.

He was also pretty good with his iaito, went through a few kata very well. All in all it was a pretty enlightening experience to watch this. Just shows that there are very few limitations.

jonreading 09-14-2010 10:34 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I believe orientation and awareness top the list from my experiences. Make sure your student can orient himself (or herself) towards kamiza and in relation to other students for training, make sure your student is aware of his (or her) surroundings during training to prevent collision or dangers related to falling off the mat. After those things, my experience is that blind students don't particularly do better or worse than other students depending on the techniques and curriculum.

fremoy 09-23-2010 07:17 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Wow thanks for sharing everyone. It's great to hear your commitment, very inspiring.
I had no idea there were people with visual impairments teaching and reaching the higher grades! fantastic!

Our student Yvonne has come for 2 classes now and she's loving it. Says she doesn't know why she didn't do this ages ago and really gets the Ki feeling.
This all started as a project after I spoke to a Afghanistan war veteran who'd lost his sight. He told me all the activities geared towards him are sedate and he misses movement and being active.
I put an article in my county (State) guide dogs news letter about what I thought Aikido could give ppl and a free event to practise, and even got the insurance company to cover 20 licence fees for a year..
as it was.. there wasn't any interest and Yvonne was about to throw out the letter when she read my article.
Seeing what she's got already has inspired me and I'm going to put ads in the publications that will reach ppl with visual impairment inviting them to attend, oh and ask Yvonne to write something too.

Thank you again for the information, I'll be emailing the people you've suggested.

see ya
Mark.

We practice in St. Albans in Hertfordshire in the UK under The Ki Federation of Great Britain

Alex Megann 09-24-2010 05:31 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Kris Moralee wrote: (Post 264495)
I was at a seminar a few years ago for Sensei Jon Stokoes 40th year in aikido and one of the Sensei who was instructing was blind. I forget if this was from birth but it had been a considerable time and he leaned aikido while he was blind. He was really good, 2nd dan if I remember right.

He was also pretty good with his iaito, went through a few kata very well. All in all it was a pretty enlightening experience to watch this. Just shows that there are very few limitations.

I think you mean Steve Fyffe:

http://www.aikidoinnorwich.net/

I went to a course a three or four years ago where Steve did a nice demonstration against three attackers...

Alex

shakou 09-24-2010 06:10 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Alex Megann wrote: (Post 264945)
I think you mean Steve Fyffe:

http://www.aikidoinnorwich.net/

I went to a course a three or four years ago where Steve did a nice demonstration against three attackers...

Alex

Yeah man, thats him. I was pretty amazed to see this. Really puts things in to perspective for you.

Cheers for the reminder :)

TheAikidoka 10-08-2010 02:44 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I have known steve fyfe for quite a few years now. a couple of years ago, I uke`d for his 3 dan at, the shin gi tai, summer school. He has been blind since birth, has dan ranks in Judo, and a master of the art of cane fighting.
He started off under the NAF with my sensei, John Duggan,My sensei and Sensei Fyfe are rather close. When My teacher left the NAF and joined the Shin Gi Tai Aikido society, Sensei Fyfe came with him, although Steve lives and teaches in Norwich, we all still have rather close ties through the Shin Gi Tai.
His sense of perception is truly extroadenary.

Andy B

WilliB 10-08-2010 02:57 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Andrew Bedford wrote: (Post 265909)
I have known steve fyfe for quite a few years now. a couple of years ago, I uke`d for his 3 dan at, the shin gi tai, summer school. He has been blind since birth, has dan ranks in Judo, and a master of the art of cane fighting.
He started off under the NAF with my sensei, John Duggan,My sensei and Sensei Fyfe are rather close. When My teacher left the NAF and joined the Shin Gi Tai Aikido society, Sensei Fyfe came with him, although Steve lives and teaches in Norwich, we all still have rather close ties through the Shin Gi Tai.
His sense of perception is truly extroadenary.

Andy B

That is pretty amazing. Blind Judo I can understand; what you can grab you can understand. The leader of the notorious Aum Shinrikyo religion was also blind, and a judo dan.
But Aikido --- wow. How in the world does he do that?

genin 07-26-2011 02:13 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Being blind and doing martial arts seems not only daunting, but possibly inappropriate. However, after having seen the MMA fighter with no arms OR legs, I now realize that anything is possible.

Janet Rosen 07-26-2011 02:34 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Roger Flatley wrote: (Post 288698)
Being blind and doing martial arts seems not only daunting, but possibly inappropriate. However, after having seen the MMA fighter with no arms OR legs, I now realize that anything is possible.

If you have read thru the many responses to this thread, how could you possibly consider visual impairment (or other disability) "inappropriate"?

genin 07-26-2011 02:49 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 288702)
If you have read thru the many responses to this thread, how could you possibly consider visual impairment (or other disability) "inappropriate"?

It's inappropriate in the same way that it would be inappropriate to do a middle school play for the movie Brokeback Mountain.

You're talking about a martial art based on an opponent approaching you to strike you. Without vision, you can not effectively train against that. There are a billion and one things a blind person can do, like play piano. I personally believe that it is not an appropriate choice to pick Aikido of all things as their choice of study. Tai chi, maybe.

Janet Rosen 07-26-2011 04:02 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Roger Flatley wrote: (Post 288705)
It's inappropriate in the same way that it would be inappropriate to do a middle school play for the movie Brokeback Mountain.

You're talking about a martial art based on an opponent approaching you to strike you. Without vision, you can not effectively train against that. There are a billion and one things a blind person can do, like play piano. I personally believe that it is not an appropriate choice to pick Aikido of all things as their choice of study. Tai chi, maybe.

Thank you for elucidating your opinion. It seems to be based on limited exposure to the skills the visually disabled actually need/have/use to deal with daily life.

genin 07-26-2011 04:18 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 288710)
Thank you for elucidating your opinion. It seems to be based on limited exposure to the skills the visually disabled actually need/have/use to deal with daily life.

I eat at a cafeteria that is run by a blind person. He's also the cashier, which again, I feel is an interesting choice for a blind person. On numerous occassions he has rung things up wrong and given wrong change. I've seen him get flustered and ring it up wrong and just kinda "whatever" it, and not bother to correct it--taking a loss by undercharging. I've corrected him a number of times, not wanting to rip off a blind person. But sometimes I'm like "whatever" myself, and don't bother to tell him that he's ripping himself off.

It comes down to the fact that if you are going to put a blind man on a cash register, you can't act surprised when the drawer turns up short at the end of the night.

sakumeikan 07-26-2011 05:12 PM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Quote:

Roger Flatley wrote: (Post 288711)
I eat at a cafeteria that is run by a blind person. He's also the cashier, which again, I feel is an interesting choice for a blind person. On numerous occassions he has rung things up wrong and given wrong change. I've seen him get flustered and ring it up wrong and just kinda "whatever" it, and not bother to correct it--taking a loss by undercharging. I've corrected him a number of times, not wanting to rip off a blind person. But sometimes I'm like "whatever" myself, and don't bother to tell him that he's ripping himself off.

It comes down to the fact that if you are going to put a blind man on a cash register, you can't act surprised when the drawer turns up short at the end of the night.

Dear Roger,
I would suggest the blind guy is ok.He is doing his best under difficult circumstances.That takes courage.If anyone is blind[not literally ] its the people who might rip the guy off.Anybody who takes advantage of a blind guy trying to earn a living and short changes the guy or takes too much change off him , is a low life.I admire anyone who tries to be independent despite fate being unkind to them. Cheers,
Joe.

jonreading 07-27-2011 09:41 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
I have posted several times on this subject, but I feel the need to post again. I think these are important conversations to hold and I am seeing a common thread draw through the last several posts. In presenting an argument about whether disabled students may or may not practice aikido it is important to remain focused on the argument. Not all people who advocate against disabled persons hate disabled persons. Not all people who present a perspective contrary to political correctness are bigots or idiots. These are not valid responses to an argument, they are occlusive maneuvers to change the focus of the argument. You want to advocate to allow blind people to train, you present your facts and counter the facts presented in the argument.

What if I were to change this argument, specific to vision. What if I were comparing fighter pilots and claimed vision should not be a factor in determining fighter pilots? What about driving? What about sports? What about any activity where our God-given talents are compared to another's? In fact, why do we even correct vision? Everyone is equal, right? Or, is it OK for a blind person to train aikido because deep down, we feel sorry for that person? What if this is our way of apologizing to that person for their condition?

Isn't someone who would shortchange anyone a low-life? Why just blind people? Is short-changing a sighted person OK? Aren't we actually just a little prejudice towards disabled people? Shouldn't we be a little prejudice?

Blindness is a significant challenge to overcome, don't diminish the condition by implying it does not affect a person's abilities. Aikido is a martial art, don't diminish its complexity and effectiveness by implying a blind person can perform to the same expectation as a sighted person.

I feel training anyone with disability is a challenge. I believe there needs to be a better set of expectations for that individual, I believe the students of the dojo need to exert additional care when working with that individual. Its the choice of the dojo to assume the additional responsibility to accommodate the special needs of that student. Can it be done? Absolutely. Should it be done? Conditionally.

Give credit to the courage these individuals display in choosing to undertake activities that strain their abilities. Appreciate the challenge they undertake and support their efforts. But understand your responsibility to set for them reasonable expectations. Understand that when you set poor expectations, you are risking their safety.

genin 07-27-2011 10:17 AM

Re: teaching the blind
 
Nicely put Jon. I suppose you have to look at the specific circumstances. Why the person wants to train, and if it's plausible to do so in that particular dojo.

I also don't like the idea of saying "You're blind, you can't do this!" But perhaps it would be prudent to simply direct their focus onto something more suitable to their condition.

I recall taking gymnastics in school, but once I exceeded 6'3", the coach was like "You should probably try volleyball instead of this." Which I did. But it wasn't him crushing my dreams of being a gymnast, rather he was simply pointing out an obvious issue and a giving me a legitimate alternative. I ended up being happier playing volleyball, btw.


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