Re: Disabled students
As my 8 year old son, Joe, has Asperger's and an interest in martial arts, I thought I'd discuss his experiences to date.
The Tomiki aikido club that I attend does not take youngsters under the age of 14 (as the instructor doesn't think it's a good thing for young joints) and as I knew it would be far too fiddely and technical for him to follow until older, I looked for a judo club for him to join.
I got in contact with a guy who was trying to start up a kids' judo class in Sheffield. This seemed suitable, as I believed a big, established club would be intimidating for him. I explained about my son's disabilities and the guy said that he had an 'open door' policy' for all. The sessions were great, but folded in the end, as the number of kids attending was too small. Great shame.
Next, I had a recommendation from a friend about a Lau Gar club that appeared to have the right attitude. We went a few times. The teacher was great and very patient (and gave me a friendly bollocking for trying to get Joe to focus more in mid session: "He'll get there in his own time,"). Unfortunately, kung fu was just too technical for him.
Then I discovered that there was a ju jitsu club in the church hall at the end of my road. We went once. To be fair they gave him quite a bit of attention. However, at the end of the session, when I asked the teacher if he thought the club could accommodate him, he said in so many words that Joe wouldn't be independent enough to cope if there were a lot of kids on the mat. Hhmm....nil points for ju jitsu.. not very inclusive!
Joe has now been training at a judo club in Rotherham for a few months and loves all the randori etc. I have to say that the judo community has a really positive and inclusive attitude towards disability. At the club they accept Joe for who he is, are always pleased to see him and give much praise and encouragement. I get the impression that this attitude is typical of British judo as a whole.
Bit of a ramble, I know, but this might be useful for somebody.