Last night I had one of the most humbling and rewarding teaching sessions since I started teaching martial arts; thanks to the hard work of Jonathan Buffong at MMARAP, all his behind the scenes grafting has helped secure funding once again to run free classes at the Ringcross Community Centre, just off the Caledonian Road.
With these classes and any other class, you never know who's going to come through the doors and last night was no exception; Holly Peters Christie is a thirteen year old with cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user, but this doesn't stop her from leading an active life. After talking to Holly and her carer, I found out she regularly works out in the gym and goes to boxing classes and now she wants to try her hand at Jiu Jitsu.
Sadly, Holly is unable to get onto the mats, but that didn't stop Holly from enjoying a mixture of boxing and Jiu Jitsu from her wheelchair; after a quick warm up, I went over the two most essentials needed in any Jiu Jitsu class, the fist bump and the Ooosss.
Holly started off with basic pad work and we added onto each drill and before long she was throwing combos, bobbing and weaving and hitting the pads with palm strikes, elbows, knees and dropping in the occasional headbutt. Arm drags followed on from this, with Holly ending each drag with a barrage of strikes on both Jonny and myself.
Some self defence was added to the mix, as Holly learned how to escape from a double handed throat grab, finiishing Jonny and me off with strikes galore. We even managed to get the carer involved with the self defence techniques and before long the session was at an end and all that remained was to cool down and bow off.
As you can see from the photo, Holly thoroughly enjoyed herself and will be coming back next with the her own boxing gloves, so plenty more pain expected for Jonny and myself.
It never fails to amaze me just how powerful the effects of martial arts training can have on people, whether it's just one person who turns up to class or dozens; Holly enjoyed over an hour of our full attention and I am really looking forward to seeing her again next week, as I am sure Jonny is too.
So next time you're thinking of some First World excuse not to train next Thursday night, just remember this wheelchair warrior will be training hard, smashing the pads and twisting up fools.
Jiu Jitsu is for everyone.