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Old 03-06-2011, 09:59 AM   #1
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
Location: Jersey
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Jersey
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Disabled students

Since 1990 I have been partially sighted, having undergone 32 operations (between 1990 and 94) at Moorfield's Eye Hospital in London, UK due to a genetic condition that attacks the body's collagen. My father was blind for most of his life and when I reached 28 I lost my sight overnight. I have since managed to gain approximately 20 % vison in one eye. This made me have to relearn simple things in aikido training such as balance, movement etc.
A year ago I was appointed Honorary Director of Disability Martial Arts for the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled with a remit to encourage people who are differently abled to enjoy martial arts if they so wish.
I now have three regular students who actively take part in training and wondered if any other instructors or students had experience of teaching aikido to the disabled. My three students present three very different challenges, one is severely autistic, one is a double amputee and my top student is wheelchair bound with quadriplegic arthetoid cerebral palsy. They are fully integrated into the classes attended by able bodied students.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:50 AM   #2
Tony Wagstaffe
Location: Winchester
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Roisin Pitman wrote: View Post
Since 1990 I have been partially sighted, having undergone 32 operations (between 1990 and 94) at Moorfield's Eye Hospital in London, UK due to a genetic condition that attacks the body's collagen. My father was blind for most of his life and when I reached 28 I lost my sight overnight. I have since managed to gain approximately 20 % vison in one eye. This made me have to relearn simple things in aikido training such as balance, movement etc.
A year ago I was appointed Honorary Director of Disability Martial Arts for the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled with a remit to encourage people who are differently abled to enjoy martial arts if they so wish.
I now have three regular students who actively take part in training and wondered if any other instructors or students had experience of teaching aikido to the disabled. My three students present three very different challenges, one is severely autistic, one is a double amputee and my top student is wheelchair bound with quadriplegic arthetoid cerebral palsy. They are fully integrated into the classes attended by able bodied students.
I had an autistic student who was very clever academically at the uni here when I was teaching.... He was autistic in his coordination, but I can't remember the exact description for his type of autism. He had a problem where he would be somewhat heavy handed , not because he was violent, but more that he was trying to hard.... I found you just have to be more patient than you would be with other students. I would uke for him when he found difficulties, He managed to get to 5th kyu when unfortunately the club was brought to an end......
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:06 PM   #3
crbateman
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Re: Disabled students

I have a 14-y.o. grandson who is low-functioning autistic. While I have not taken him on the mat for Aikido, I can tell you that he loves the sensory activity inherent to simple wrestling. He laughs and cackles the entire time, and constantly tries to get me to do it with him. Yet, he realizes that this is an activity that should only be done with "grandpa", and does not try to engage in the behavior with anyone else but me, either at home or at school. He is not big for his age, but is ape-strong and very flexible, so I have to stay on my toes, lest he jerk my ailing shoulder out of place.

What I have learned in working with him in all facets of his life would probably be good advice for anybody teaching anything to someone who is "challenged". This is just my $0.02, though, as I am not a trained professional, nor do I play one on TV.

1) Don't think of them as "disabled". Think of them as "differently-abled"

2) Identify and encourage their strong points, while helping them improve their weaknesses.

3) Every person is different, and the way you teach any one person may need to be different from the way you teach anybody else.

4) Be realistic in helping them to set goals that are attainable.

5) Be upbeat and nurturing. Reinforcement is important at all times.

6) And this is the most important one... Be patient. Progress is often measured in millimeters.

The very best of luck to you.
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:06 PM   #4
Larry Feldman
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Re: Disabled students

My instructor taught formally at a local school for the blind. (Not all students were totally blind). He speaks highly of the experience.

I has a student show up who lost one arm below the elbow. It was very thought provoking for me to figure out how to have her work on techniques. I was surprised by how little modification I needed to teach her.

My former Ju Jitsu instructor did quite a bit with the disabled. He utilized their crutches to help on some techniques. Had a classfull of students at one time.
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:20 PM   #5
carina reinhardt
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 428
Spain
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Re: Disabled students

In our dojo is a guy who's half body was paralyzed due to a car accident, when he began with us, he just could move his left arm a little and limps on his left leg. The aikido was great for him, more than any rehabilitation, because it forces him to move his left part of the body without thinking.
I found also the case of a 12 year old girl who was in a wheelchair when she began, you can read that in the interview of Nelson Requena Sensei, it is in spanish, but there is a translator .
http://entrenandoaikido.blogspot.com...cuando-no.html
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Old 03-06-2011, 03:04 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Disabled students

I've partnered on the mat with folks who are blind, deaf, and missing limbs. Each was for me a fascinating experience in how people work to their strengths.
I have worked 1:1 on the mat with some teens w/ autism and other neuro differences. For autism, I think it is key to understand that there is a lot of individual variation in how sensory input is processed or accepted, so what works for one person may well trigger a lot of discomfort for another. Still well worth the effort in terms of potential benefits!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-06-2011, 04:21 PM   #7
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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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.

regards

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:00 PM   #8
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
Location: Jersey
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Re: Disabled students

With the permission of my student Tyrone Nicholson I post a picture taken by the local press a couple of years ago when the television did a piece on disability martial arts.
Tyrone has been with me for three and half years now and has hardly missed a session. He also often attends the iai-do and t'ai chi classes to watch and is an active member of our Management Committee (social secretary).
I have seen him blossom as a person and a student and he lives for aikido. He had seriously bad motor skills when he came to us and a lack of confidence. Now he is the most popular member of the school and his co-ordination and body movements have responded beyond all recognition. He was named 'most improved aikido student' at our annual dinner before Christmas and is a fine example of courage and determination in extremely difficult circumstances, I could not be a prouder teacher.
I thank you all for your contribution to this thread at this time.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:20 PM   #9
crbateman
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Roisin Pitman wrote: View Post
With the permission of my student Tyrone Nicholson I post a picture taken by the local press a couple of years ago when the television did a piece on disability martial arts.
I neglected to mention that you and Tyrone might want to Google around for information about Molly Hale Sensei. She is a truly inspirational figure, both on and off the mat.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:03 PM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I neglected to mention that you and Tyrone might want to Google around for information about Molly Hale Sensei. She is a truly inspirational figure, both on and off the mat.
This is as good a place as any to start:
http://www.abilityproduction.org/mbm_dvd.htm

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:07 AM   #11
amoeba
Dojo: Aikido Netzwerk
Location: Düsseldorf, NRW
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Germany
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Re: Disabled students

We had one young guy with asperger's syndrome training at our place for a few years and it worked fine. Unluckily, his condition got worse (nothing to do with the aikido) so he had to stop...
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:39 AM   #12
St Matt
Join Date: Dec 2010
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United Kingdom
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Re: Disabled students

Does anyone know of any aikidoka that have had a foot amputated? Can you still do aikido with a prosthetic foot? I ask because after a motorcycle accident ten years ago and a now arthritic ankle that is gradualy getting worse and worse I may end up in that boat!
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:14 AM   #13
crbateman
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Matt Bostock wrote: View Post
Does anyone know of any aikidoka that have had a foot amputated? Can you still do aikido with a prosthetic foot? I ask because after a motorcycle accident ten years ago and a now arthritic ankle that is gradualy getting worse and worse I may end up in that boat!
You need only look as far as the late Seiichi Sugano Sensei for the answer to that question...
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:06 AM   #14
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
Location: Jersey
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Matt Bostock wrote: View Post
Does anyone know of any aikidoka that have had a foot amputated? Can you still do aikido with a prosthetic foot? I ask because after a motorcycle accident ten years ago and a now arthritic ankle that is gradualy getting worse and worse I may end up in that boat!
Hi Matt,

My student who is a double amputee is missing a foot and uses a prosthetic one and his remaining foot is not fully formed but he copes extremely well. His ukemi are a wonder to behold.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:07 AM   #15
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
Location: Jersey
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I neglected to mention that you and Tyrone might want to Google around for information about Molly Hale Sensei. She is a truly inspirational figure, both on and off the mat.
Thank you Clark & Janet for the info. I will look her up.
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:05 AM   #16
Howard Popkin
Dojo: Popkin-Brogna 大東流合気柔術銀柔会
Location: Long Island, NY
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Re: Disabled students

This is an article written about my friend Ole Kingston of Denmark.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=293
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:43 AM   #17
RoisinPitman
Dojo: Phoenix (Jersey) School for Therapeutic Arts
Location: Jersey
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Howard Popkin wrote: View Post
This is an article written about my friend Ole Kingston of Denmark.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=293
Much obliged Howard.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:41 PM   #18
Tony Wagstaffe
Location: Winchester
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Re: Disabled students

One has to admire this Geezer....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwt9_G6VcME
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:27 AM   #19
St Matt
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Re: Disabled students

Thanks for the replies guys, its good to know that if the worst does happen to my foot that it hopefully wont ruin my aikido activities.

There are some strong people out there!!!
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:09 AM   #20
Hellis
Dojo: Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
Location: Bracknell
Join Date: Feb 2010
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England
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Re: Disabled students

On my first visit to Alamogordo New Mexico 1992, I taught at a school there for the Blind...The main figure at the school for sport was Winford Haynes, he represented the USA in the Olympic Paraplegic Games for both Judo and athletics. I would watch him with his training partner in the sprints. Just amazing.
I often used him as my uke, his Aikido was very good..

Henry Ellis
Aikido Articles
http://aikidoarticles.blogspot.com/
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:18 AM   #21
Hellis
Dojo: Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
Location: Bracknell
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Matt Bostock wrote: View Post
Thanks for the replies guys, its good to know that if the worst does happen to my foot that it hopefully wont ruin my aikido activities.

There are some strong people out there!!!
Matt

In the late 1950s we had a student at the Hut Dojo who had an artificial leg from the knee down, this was a ``wooden`` leg. he was thrown high and hard, his leg smashed another student across the head knocking him out. In hospitpal he came round asking " what hit me " ???? he was informed it was a wooden leg, he replied
" kin el !! I thought it was a tree "............
After that he had all the practice space he needed

If anyone sees the funny side of this ? I apologise.

Henry Ellis
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:24 PM   #22
Tom123
Location: Sheffield
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Re: Disabled students

Hi

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.

Martin
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:36 PM   #23
Hellis
Dojo: Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
Location: Bracknell
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England
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Re: Disabled students

Quote:
Martin Horne wrote: View Post
Hi

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.

Martin
Martin

I read yor post with interest.
I would have suggested Judo for your son as I was reading, so when I saw you had actually found a Judo Club that is perfect for him is great.....Near me is the ` Pinewood Judo Club ` which is probably the top Judo Club in the UK for juniors..I send all my childrens enquiries there, I prefer a child to do Judo before Aikido..
and the bottom of my list is TaeKwonDo.
I wish your son success.

Henry Ellis
http://aikido-books.blogspot.com/
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