autistic culture, Disability Culture, Growing up undiagnosed

Studying Martial Arts is Beneficial to Neurodivergent Children

I am on the right and my friend is on the left. We are practicing blocking and countering techniques.

This is a little known fact, I was in karate (fun fact: the word karate mean open handed) as a kid, Kenpo to be more specific. I started when I was young and I stopped when I moved out of my home. My parents thought it would make me more disciplined but it gave me so much more.

How I started

I started it with my brothers because I did not want to do dance. To me, it was too girly and I was not interested.

When we had our first private introductory lesson, I was hooked It was the first time I was able to do anything. It did a lot for my self esteem.

A New Special Interest

Karate became my special interest right away. At that point, I did not know thats what was going on, all I knew is that I really loved it. The dojo started to expand and I was asked to be on their demo team. This means that when there were events, I participated in the demonstration. It was mostly with weapons such as the staff or the nunchucks. I had a lot of fun doing this. It got me out of the house on the weekends so I did not need to deal with the abuse at home.

They had something called the split club. It didnt take me long to get on that board. Now, after my EDS diagnosis, it does not surprise me.

Lead to My First Exposure to Indigenous People

One of my sensei was actually an Algonquin native and brought me to a Pow Wow. That was a lot of fun and unlike anything I have ever seen. I will always be thankful for that experience. She even gave me a large dream catcher for my bat mitzvah it fell apart so I do not have it anymore but she made sure to make it with glow in the dark beads. It was something I treasured for a long time.

Improving My Mental Health

The more I advanced, the more confident I became. Each rank test, I became better and better. I practiced all the time. I was advancing faster than my brothers because they wouldn’t practice. I worked at it and I was proud of what I did. Before I graduated high school, I earned my black belt because I practiced at it.As part of my test, I had to spar with my eyes shut. Me, being hard of hearing, that was not easy but I was very sensitive to how to floor vibrated and I did great. I proudly hang my belt on my wall by my desk today. I did have to sneak it out of the house but I am glad I did because now I would never be able to get it.

Passing it On to My Children

Now, we have a stand alone punching bag in the garage, and I teach my children proper techniques so they do not hurt themselves. I do make them repeat that we do not use this unless there is no other choice but to defend ourselves. They fully understand. I cannot afford to send them to proper classes but I can show them what I know.

A Message to Martial Arts Haters

To those villianizing any type of martial arts or fighting sports, you are truly ignorant. You have no idea what good they can do for someone’s mental health and physical strength. I highly recommend martial arts to anyone, at any age.

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