Under: Self-defense
2 Dec 2007


I just reviewed a website by Erik Kondo called “Not-Me!” Eric is a paraplegic that has a message for people that do not want to be victims… he calls it “Not-Me!” His message takes into account the training-level, the mind-set, and four levels of tactics and techniques. Please take a moment to see what this is about. I think you can get a lot out of this website because this, like Joanne Factor’s website – Strategic Living, Erik’s methods take the whole situation into account and he tells students how to approach each phase.


When I use to teach karate lessons in my school, the most unusual student I had was Mark Goffney. He was born without arms but wanted to learn to fight. I was amazed by the things he could do with his feet! I had to expand my understanding of karate and self-defense to include a person that could not punch, block or cover. Mark was a good student and learned what karate could do for him and what it could not. Mark had to use distance (I call critical distance) instead of blocking and covering. He had to be in better shape then most because he could not rest up and take some punches during a fight. 


I remember watching a Longstreet episode where Mike (Longstreet – 1971-1972 TV series) – a blind man, had to train for a fight. Bruce Lee had to work with Mike to learn alternate ways to fight effectively! Take a look at this clip of Bruce teaching Mike how to move and kick! I remember thinking that anyone could defend themselves if they really had a strong desire and method!


When I was working with Mark Goffney learning to spar (controlled fighting in a studio), I use to tease him (not really but trying to drive a point home) to get his arms up. I would do this whenever he was too close to me. He (Mark) being without arms, did not have the luxury of getting tired and allowing someone inside his distance because he could not cover his ribs with his arms. I did not ever see Mark feeling sorry for himself at the studio but rather he seemed to accept that if he wanted something (karate in this case) he was going to have to work harder than everyone else! 


Now for my shameless plug for Mark. He has a band called Big Toe. I had not seen Mark for years in the east county of San Diego but saw his band on the NBC show “Star Tomorrow.” His band did not win the competition but they had pretty good music. You ought to check it out and I think you will be amazed at what an armless person can do!

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3 Responses to “Paraplegic Teaches Self-Defense – Yes Disabled People Can Defend Themselves!”

  1. Joanne Factor Says:

    Some of my most rewarding (and difficult) teaching experiences have been with students considered disabled. One current karate student has no vision at all in one eye, and limited/tunneled vision in the other. However, her spirit and will to learn keep her truckin’ along, and her progress is just incredibly meaningful to her, and inspirational to the rest of the school.

    One of my more challenging self-defense classes was for a local Deaf-Blind program. The logistics of communication took my mindfulness to a new level, that’s for sure!

    Dr. Wendy David co-created a self-defense program, “Safe Without Sight,” for blind people (and co-authored a book by the same name). This program is currently taught in several locations across the country.

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Very interesting Joanne – We have five senses that most of us take for granted (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting). I think that if one was blind or deaf – the other senses would take up some of the slack such as a blind person hearing very well. Either case of blind or deaf – self-defense is still possible.

    Now what about blind and deaf? That only leaves feeling, smelling and tasting. I would think that if a person has these three senses – wrestling, jiu-jitsu, or sumo types of defense would still work well. A person would have to have the will, and a burning desire to want self-defense training!

    You are doing much needed work, it sounds like, with at-risk populations! Thank you and all instructors of your ilk!

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