Blind & Visually Impaired in the Greater Omaha area learn judo

Bowing Before Stepping The Omaha Association of the Blind met at Roberts Manor at 1024 S. 32nd St., in Omaha, NE for a demonstration of judo, tae-kwando, and other self-defense techniques from the Tae-Judo club on July 12, 2014.
“This is a sport they can do equally as well as sighted peers,” said Kathy Brown-Hollins, a member of the Tai-Judo club since February 2014.Coach Merriweather assisting Kathy
Coach Wilbert Merriweather started reaching out and began working with people who are visually impaired to teach them the art of judo and to teach them self-defense.
Coach Merriweather echoes that judo and tae-kwando can be used as self-defense.Coach Merriweather
“All can be used as self-defense when used properly,” Merriweather said.
While judo can be used as self-defense, it can also be challenging: “It takes a lot of time and practice and I myself am doing things I never thought I would be doing. I am proud of myself each time I learn a new technique.” Brown-Hollins said.
Teaching the blind judo has its own technique: “The most important part has to be good, strong verbal communications. Every technique would have to be described all the way to its finest verbally.” Merriweather said.
The demonstration included warm-ups and learning how to fall. Atty arm circlesParticipant Atty Svendsen said: “ I knew that a person had to be very fit to do judo, so expected the exercises. What I didn’t expect was how fun it was to slap the mat and yell during them.”
“People seemed like they were eager to get on the mat and try it,” said Brown-Hollins.
The Tae-Judo club was co-founded in 2007 by coaches Wilbert Merriweather and Glen Young. It was then incorporated into the Blind Judo Foundation, which was founded in 2003 with the following mission: “The Blind Judo Foundation helps blind and visually-impaired athletes achieve maximum independence through the pursuit of Judo.”
“With judo it’s all a hands on grappling sport,” said Brown-Hollins, who wanted to remain as independent as possible even though she could not see.
The Tae-Judo club is sponsored by donations, as well as dues from practices. Prices are $20 a month for students and $45 a month for non-students. Practices are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Adams Community Center, located at 3234 John Creighton Boulevard.
For more information about the Omaha Association of the Blind, visit their website or their Facebook page.
For more information about the Blind Judo Foundation, visit their website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Rachael Vacanti