Inclusive Kung Fu
Inclusive Kung Fu
Kostas Moukas is the first Wushu instructor in Greece in a wheelchair, helping his trainees develop greater balance and strength and working towards turning this sport into a Paralympic one.
In the second episode of the series, Mari joins Kostas' classes at Akadimia Plantonos, taking an introductory course in Kung Fu philosophy.
Kung Fu (or Wushu) is part of Martial Arts.
A scientific study by the University of Wisconsin shows the benefits that martial arts can bring into the lives of people with disabilities. The researchers asked persons with a physical, cognitive or developmental disability about their condition, improved quality of life and increased self-image. Each participant had at least one year of experience with martial arts.
The research shows that 90 percent of the participants have a more positive attitude about themselves as a result of learning martial arts. In addition, 80 percent say their quality of life has improved since class. Regarding the physical benefits, the participants also noticed major changes: the most important was the strength (70 percent felt stronger), more stamina (70 percent) and more balance (65 percent).
“With Wushu, you develop your fighting skills, you build better soul and body, and eventually you can see that the weak can win the strong”
Kostas tells us:
“Kung fu is for everyone, regardless of their body structure, their disability or physical skills. Each body, with or without disability, is unique; as such it is also approached by kung fu. This is an art that focuses on personal expression of body and soul. It strives to match the breath with the movement, the proper mechanics with getting maximum force, the good connection of the joints with each other (connection), the relation to the ground (grounding), balance, tranquility, calmness, double choice of defense and assault, harmony, compassion and receptivity, self-esteem…
Based on all of this, anyone (with or without a disability) wanting to start kung fu have nothing else to ask themselves than how easy or difficult it is for them to express themselves. We are including people with all kinds of disabilities (paraplegia, quadriplegia, amputations, birth defects, blindness, deafness etc.). You can express your uniqueness. There is such a richness of movements and with a bit of will and imagination any adaption is possible. If you are in wheelchair, you will roll and search for your own balance instead of walking and standing. If you are missing a limb, you will work one-sided, but inevitably will also manage to activate the side of the absent limb. What was once inactive in your body and in your mind is now called to wake up and work in balance. Constant breathing drives the blood everywhere. Besides,kung fu does not only give you the opportunity for a versatile exercise for body and mind; it also arms you with techniques for self-defense. It is in my opinion a very serious tool for disability recovery, like for example ergotherapy or swimming. It has clear and strong features of rehabilitation and ergotherapy and should be included in rehabilitation centers… which seems to be happening experimentally.
And if someone with a disability would simply think whether they can acquire self-defense capabilities, my answer would be a big YES. People with disabilities are at the heart of kung fu’s philosophy as it follows the path and the journey that the weaker (apparently and truly) can beat the stronger… You have nothing to worry about but just take the first step, or the first hand.”