Martial Arts festival for people with disabilities

November 18, 2016 11:54 am    

On Sunday 6 November, the Disability Karate Federation ran an Ikkaido Martial Arts festival at Stoke Mandeville Stadium for people with disabilities. The event was an open festival to showcase the skills of disabled and non-disabled athletes through karate.

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Supported by Heart of Bucks, the Disability Karate Federation used some of their grant funding to train a wheelchair user as a coach, mentor, tutor and assessor. The paraplegic coach, Dick van der Merwe, was also first aid trained and carried out regular weekly sessions of martial arts for disabled and non-disabled people to work together. He has since been shortlisted for disability coach of the year at the UK Coaching Awards.

The festival was a great success, one participant who has MS commented “the care and love shown to everyone was amazing, until this illness I have not been prone to emotion but I was holding back the tears watching the effort and dedication shown by students and instructors alike.”

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Another comment on the festival came from the parent of a participant who said, “I could never have believed [my son] could have achieved something like this. He is both blind and deaf, with learning disability and a wheelchair user. His smiling and laughter while he was punching and kicking brought tears to everyone’s eyes.”

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