The life-lessons imparted by Martial Arts are applicable for all ages, teaching important skills like self-control, discipline, and perseverance. But the standard image of a martial artist does not always reflect the capabilities that many students possess. Most stereotypical movie-image martial artists are strong, tall, agile, and able to perform amazing aerial stunts. Not every student, for a variety of reasons, is capable of performing incredible acrobatics. The Hollywood version does not show one of the key pillars of martial arts: they are for everyone, regardless of physical or mental abilities.
One of the greatest aspects of modern martial arts is its accessibility for people of many different lifestyles and range of challenges.
Some Special Challenges With Which Martial Arts Has Been Successful:
One of the more notable organizations for its work with autism is the American Taekwondo Association (ATA). The ATA has worked closely with Autism Speaks to understand how Autism affects individuals and how best to work and train those affected by Autism. This association has provided ATA with a means to educate instructors looking to get additional training in how to teach students with Autism. To become certified, an instructor must complete 300 hours of supervised training, a CPR course, and fulfill numerous other qualifications. Because of the ATA’s instructor training, ATA instructors have been successfully working with special needs individuals for over 45 years. The ATA has partnered with Autism Speaks to raise awareness and funds by creating charity events such as “Walk Now For Autism Speaks.” Taekwondo teaches self-confidence and self-reliance, useful skills for those with special needs of all kinds. Not ALL ATA Taekwondo instructors have this specialized training. It is individual to the school, so make sure you ask if the school you are interested in attending has specially trained and certified instructors if this would be helpful to the prospective student in question. To learn more about Autism Speaks, go to autismspeaks.org.
Studies prove a complex and multifaceted physical activity, like martial arts, strengthens the brain and enables those with ADD or ADHD to practice basic motor and behavioral control. Movement helps them develop coordination while building strength. Martial arts also teach consistency and ritual, which can calm and focus students on one task.
Martial arts instructors tailor techniques to fit the student instead of molding the student to fit the technique. Individuals with Down Syndrome tend to have some degree of cognitive and muscle impairment, which is why improving strength and coordination is important and exercise is invaluable. The National Down Syndrome Society plays a large role in advocating for those with Down Syndrome. Find them at ndss.org.
Blindness Martial arts, Judo especially, are not heavily dependent on sight because they are not typical contact sports. In Judo, the experts usually practice blindfolded to improve their reflexes and strengthen their other senses. Karate also is easily adaptable to blindness.
Many success stories over the years have come to light as more impaired students have entered martial arts programs for various reasons. Martial arts classes can be instrumental in giving new confidence and teaching better maneuverability. Techniques are not changed unless strictly necessary, making the techniques easier to learn and more similar to their original forms.
Paralyzation, MS, and other Physical Impairments/Disabilities
Martial Arts also offer the added benefit of being useful for therapy, both physical and mental. Improved coordination and strength, as well as basic motor functions, take time and dedicated practice but the rewards are well worth the effort. Increases in self-control and the development of new abilities can also reduce anxiety and create more positive attitudes. As well as being therapeutic, Martial Arts help with confidence and self-defense, both of which can be useful when an assailant targets a disabled person for being a stereotypically easy target.
Adaptive Martial Arts Association
The AMAA is an organization dedicated solely to finding new methods of teaching martial arts to the disabled and breaking down the stereotypes under which people with disabilities tend to suffer. Offering modified techniques and forms on its website, it is an easily accessible resource for families and instructors to provide the best possible training. The AMAA can be found online at adaptivemartialarts.org.
Martial arts are able to be taught in a way that allows people of all abilities and walks of life to be able to successfully achieve their goals. Many instructors are specially trained to most efficiently instruct students with special needs, and that number is rapidly increasing. Martial arts are truly available for all people.
This website helps match people to the school and style they need as well as matching people with cognitive or physical impairments with schools that offer special training. Start your search now!