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Inclusive Martial Arts

by Lara Boyd

Inclusive Martial Arts by Lara Boyd

I began learning with Shoto Budo at the age of 41. Having been asked to stop running for medical reasons and as a life long exercise junkie I was looking for something which would challenge me physically but still allowed me to look after myself. Martial arts have always interested me and one of my children was already learning karate. However, the organisation my son trained with, discouraged me from training. I never found out why I didn't feel welcome, but on reflection, I never saw many female adults at national events and certainly none of my age and there were no visible senior female figures within the organisation. I heard about Shoto Budo through another parent and spoke to Richard Price. I was welcomed to training and encouraged to take part, so we crossed over to Shoto Budo.

I was looking for a physical challenge but I have found much more. The training helps maintain my fitness and flexibility but it also gives me a fitness goal, which I address away from Shoto Budo. I sometimes find it very challenging to get the whole family to training on a Thursday or Monday night, or myself with 1 or 2 children to a National event. My husband works long hours and I work part time and am a part time student. The laundry alone requires a military operation, sometimes it would be handy to have a wife at home to help get us out of the house. (apologies to any house husbands out there respect!).

The hardest aspect of training for me is the brain workout! I lost co-ordination during my 3 pregnancies and to say I had 2 left feet was an understatement. In fact I remember Richard once enquired quite sincerely if I had dyslexia.... I don't, but do have a great deal of sympathy with those of you who do. Shoto Budo has helped my co-ordination back to pre-pregnancy levels, although I still need to take a longer time, than some my age, to fix some movements in my head. I have never before encountered a form of physical exercise which is both physically and mentally challenging. I take pride in the skills and the capability I now have and want to learn more. It's very common for pre-menopausal women to experience a significant loss in confidence but I feel more confident in public spaces than I ever did before and I know that's the Shoto Budo affect. I still feel welcomed and encouraged by senior members of the organisation and while some people overtake me on the grading ladder they in turn help me when I need information.

I also have an eight year old who has gone through 2 major cranial (skull) surgical procedures and is preparing for a third as I write. Shoto Budo is the only organised physical activity he can do while he is healing. All aspects of the training are adapted to meet his very specific safety requirements. All the supervising adults who come into contact with him are made aware of his needs and how to help him take part. I don't think it occurs to anyone to question his participation. For long periods of time he has had to give up everything from riding a bike to bouncing on the trampoline, so as a family we are very grateful for the strong ethos of inclusion which runs throughout the Shoto Budo organisation.



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