Martial Arts for People with Disabilities

Courage.  Concentration.  Endurance.  Honesty.  Humility.  Control of Power.  Tension and Relaxation.  Speed Control.

These eight key concepts are part of the philosophy of the martial arts program as taught at Courage Center in Golden Valley. The students who participate in this unique program have various disabilities including cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, amputation, and stroke.

In the past six years ,I have learned how important, yet frustrating, it is to find opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to be able to work on these concepts. My five-year-old granddaughter, who has cerebral palsy, has taught me much about inclusion and equal opportunity. One day she announced she wanted to do karate just like her nine-year-old cousin. I thought it was impossible until I learned about the martial arts program at Courage Center. On my first visit to the Saturday karate program I was amazed at what I witnessed.

Crisp white uniforms filled the room. Students wore a multitude of belt colors, ranging from white for the beginners to the black belt recently received and worn by Chris, a young man with cerebral palsy. Numerous students many of whom used wheelchairs or walkers stood or sat along an invisible line, ready to begin, focused on the instructor. They all had one thing in common: they were committed to achieving the goals they had set for themselves in this martial arts program.

Every Saturday morning at 11, karate students come together at Courage Center to improve their skills, gain better control of their bodies, and feel the control and power that comes with learning martial arts.

Last April I attended a regional karate tournament in St. Cloud. The students from Courage Center participated with able-bodied students. The smiles told the story they had learned these eight key concepts and put them into practice.

The results of their hard work and determination were demonstrated in their performance.

If you are interested in practicing these eight key concepts, contact Courage Center’s Sports and Recreation Department at 763-520-0473 for registration information. The program is open to children and adults with disabilities, and their family members.