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Blog: “Martial arts is a fundamental part of who I am”

As the sport and activity sector gets ready to open its doors again, Activity Alliance remains committed to ensuring disabled people can be and stay active. We are especially mindful that there will be even more disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, who feel isolated and less active. Our blogs explore the different ways disabled people are moving and staying active during the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak.

Mandi training in her garden

Until the sport and activity sectors open back up, there are many ways to continue enjoying an active lifestyle. This includes adapting activities so everyone in the household, disabled and non-disabled, can take part together, or on their own. We’ll be sharing experiences of disabled people and how they are staying active during this time.

Today we hear from martial arts coach, Mandi. She tells us how she has adopted Zoom training classes to continue supporting her martial art students. 

Mandi's blog

Hi I’m Mandi and I live in Hampshire. I am Business Manager and coach at Shin Gi Tai Martial Arts Academy in Basingstoke. I’m Paraplegic and diabetic.

Martial Arts takes up most of my time. I coach and deliver various classes, including; Tai Chi, Karate, Kung Fu, Kick Boxing and fitness classes. This includes ladies only kickboxing, Karate and seated martial arts. During lockdown, I have been delivering my seated martial arts classes over Zoom.

Working out while in and around my home has been difficult. I am used to being in the dojo (our training place) with the mats and equipment. I am also used to having lots of people around me training. I’m lucky in that martial arts lends itself well to solitary practice in a number ways. Furniture has been rearranged in my house, my back patio has become a training area and the field across the road has become a favourite place for practicing Tai Chi. As I am still delivering classes as a coach in Karate, Tai Chi and the chair based MMB (martial arts based fitness class to music) exercise class I think that the fact that I have timetable slots helps. I also have planned times in the day to work on my fitness including free weights and a hand-bike. I train with my son regularly, it seems having a large kitchen is a real bonus when trying to practice martial arts at home.

At the moment I am really enjoying the live Zoom sessions I am running. I get to coach or train and still interact with people. It is difficult when you have gone from seeing hundreds of people every week to being at home. So, I love the fact that technology has enabled me to still work with the coaching team, have time with my own coaches and be able to support other people exercising. The MMB classes are open to anyone to join in and I have been pleased with the amount of chair users that have joined. And I have also had a number of people join the online wheelchair martial arts group and try seated karate and Tai Chi for the first time too.

Exercise really benefits me. In my case, training in martial arts is a fundamental part of who I am. Maintaining physical and mental health during these difficult times is vital and it is through training and exercise that I do this. Being able to link with, train and coach people over Zoom and social media platforms is a massive help.

My advice to other disabled people wanting to workout more at home is - Create your space! If you have a space that is waiting for you where you don’t have to move things or find things it makes life so much easier. You can then go to that space and have everything you need waiting for you. My other advice would be do it now. If you think about exercising do it right away while you are motivated. The other option is have a regular timetable where you can log into live sessions or regularly exercise and have your time for you.

If you’re interested in wheelchair/seated martial arts join the Shin Gi Tai Facebook group.

Find out more about Mandi’s martial arts classes:

Support on staying active

As the sport and activity sector make plans to open back up, there’s lots of ways to stay active at home. If you are not as active as you would like to be or you know someone who isn't we have complied a list to support you to be active at home. Visit our Get Active at Home page to find a list of exercise advice, workouts, videos and activity guides for disabled people.