Re: Disabled students
I think aikido is a superb art for people with all sorts of challenges healthwise. The focus on physical connection with another, rather than throwing kicks or punches. A good teacher should be able to adapt most training situations to support someone with need for extra attention. I feel that everyone gains when working with a 'disabled' person, they force you to be more sensitive, to listen with all of your senses, they invoke the sort of 'protective' feeling that I think should be at the heart of all aikido, including the serious gungho dynamic practice which the fit, fast and strong can engage in.
My first sensei suffered from a serious disease when he was a kid, which left him with very little muscle from the waist down. He was quite powerfully built above. Which meant he was basically having to balance on two bones with a knee joint in the middle. On top of this, some of the failed corrective work in his feet meant his ankles were fused. Somehow, I always felt that his 'disability' was his greatest asset in how he performed his aikido. He had to develop a strong mind, strong ki and be exceptionally good at creating a 'groundpath', as he didn't have the muscle to fall back on, so to speak.
There is a place in aikido for all who can make it onto a mat. Glad to see from the few post above, that this is really happening.
Thanks to Roisin for starting this thread up.