Blog: “It’s important to have dedicated people on your side”
Activity Alliance enables organisations to support disabled people to be active and stay active for life. Today’s blog comes from Adaptive Martial Arts student, Arek. Arek tells us the important role his club mates, and instructors play in supporting him to progress.
Hi, my name is Arek, I’m 44 and I live in Southampton. I’d say I’m quite active. I go to the gym, usually one to three times a week. Swimming twice a week and Jiu-Jitsu with Adaptive Martial Arts (AMA) every week. I’m also a qualified scuba diver. I also have cerebral palsy which affects my legs.
Through watching my daughter taking part in Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) I became interested in martial arts. I wanted to find out more. Specifically around if I would be able to do BJJ, being that most of the time it’s groundwork on the mat.
I approached my daughter’s instructor about this and I was asked to describe my limitations. I couldn’t do this as I didn’t know what I could or could not do. I did some internet searching and came across Adaptive Martial Arts in Bristol. I then went to meet Gina, CEO, and Chris, Director of AMA, for the first time in August 2018. I’ve been a team member training in Jiu-Jitsu ever since.
Through AMA I have realised how important it is to have dedicated people on your side, with individual approaches to various impairments.
I really enjoy being active, although I get tired, I see it as a positive thing. The social benefits that comes from being active with AMA is extremely important to me too. I’m always proactive and more than happy to try new techniques out.
Since starting regular exercise, it has increased the range of movement in my joints. The stretching makes it easier to walk too. Working out in the gym, especially with weights, has helped build up my strength. I also get a lot of mental health benefits from swimming as it clears my mind. After exercising I feel quite happy knowing I did my best.
Exercising as a whole has enabled me to do more daily tasks around the house. Equally, it has also supported me with my patients in my day-to-day role as a senior MRI Radiographer.
The support of my family and friends is really important to me. They help me stay mentally positive. The backing from my club mates at AMA really supports my progression too.
I’m proud to say, this year has seen me training for my first para-athlete competition in March 2020 at the Jiu-Jitsu Grand Slam World Tour in London.
My advice to other disabled people who are wanting to be active, but not sure where to start is – don’t be afraid, go ahead and try something. It’s good for your mental and physical health. I found that every little step forward made me happy, and this can be the same for you.
Find out more about Adaptive Martial Arts at www.adaptivema.co.uk.