Finding focus in a blurry world…
The President and First Lady watch a judo demonstration on the South Lawn, which was part of an event promoting Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid.
Ryan Reser is the uke for a local student. Myles Porter (Paralympian!!!) was the other judoka in blue. Myles is the third visually impaired athlete to be ranked nationally among his sighted peers.
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In July me and some of my students from the Pottstown Judo Club visited the Montgomery County Association for the Blind (MCAB) Day Camp… A dozen plus blind and visually impaired boys and girls from the ages of 7 to 16 years old engaged in a hands-on demonstration of the Japanese martial art of JUDO lead by Sensei Richard Favinger, Jr. (me) of the Pottstown Judo Club, and assisted by Sensei Scott Rakowski along with Pottstown Judo Club junior students, Paul, Brandon, Nick, Dylan, and Matt…
We had a wonderful time teaching them 2 judo moves each and one hold down. This hands on demo allowed the blind children to throw my students (and they loved every minute of it!) We brought uniforms for every one to try (and feel), and some of Sensei Rich’s Keystone Games medals from past events that are very textured so they can feel them. (They are in the shape of a Keystone)…
They enjoyed hanging with us and telling us many stories of what they also enjoy. Many are members of the Junior Blind Golfers Association, and have participated in Special Olympics under Swimming, Running, and Horseback Riding…
My students had a GREAT time, and the campers asked us when we where coming back! Many also asked where they can signup for judo! Sadly for many they live far away from my club. But I will do my best to find them one local if I can… If not, I may just have to start a judo club for MCAB!
One of the harder things for my young helper students to understand was how they needed to describe every thing they needed to do or tell the other child how to move a foot or hand for placement. But they got the hang of it! (Teaching not so easy eh’ guys?)
I found it a little strange when one of the blind students asked me if I could guide them back to the mat area from the hall… suddenly I was the more sighted of the bunch. I seen one of my other students guide a blind student to the bathroom and patiently wait for him outside, then guide him back to our area. I’m so proud of my students, they acted like perfect role-models!
Special thanks to Mr. Jim Hunt camp director (yellow cap) [who is also blind] from the Montgomery County Association for the Blind… and the Pottstown Judo Club. This demonstration was arranged by Sensei Rich (me)…
The young fellow sitting next to me, is only 7-years-old and has limited light perception – the little dude almost jumped out of his chair when we made the first call for participants! Youngest of the bunch with a triumphant “I DOOOOOO!”… and was first on the mat! – Yea!!! I love it!
To learn more about Visually Impaired and Blind Judo please, contact me!
Judo is an official Olympic and Paralympic Sport for the Blind…
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I was speaking to my dad tonight after he got home from the hospital.
I had went to visit him this past weekend, and while I was there I gave him a photo of my friend Dr. Andre Watson, and myself, a photo that was taken at the Pennsylvania State Judo Championships… But, I had forgotten to write the information on the back of the photo for dad. So he had called tonight to tell me he was home, and ask for the information.
After telling him about Andre, he mentioned how nice it is that I know such people, and how he wishes he could meet Andre some day. I really thought nothing of it till now, but I really do know some amazing people.
You see, my friend Dr. Andre Watson, is a black belt in judo, and a member of the US Paralympic Blind Judo Team. He fought in the 2008 Paralympic Summer Games, and Parapan American Games, visited many countries including Brazil, China, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, and many states in the USA. He’s received his master’s and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from Widener University. – He’s blind…
I think that qualifies as amazing. Don’t you?
I can think of a few other people I happen to know. Because of Andre, I also know Marc Vink, Paralympic Judo Team Leader, and Heidi Moore, Director of Judo Development for the US Association of Blind Athletes.
I can also think of some people who truly inspire me. Elaine, my Orientation and Mobility instructor; she has dedicated her life to helping people like me, who cannot see well to get around safe.
My first judo instructor Dr. Frank Heifer, who just happened to be the superintendent of our school, back when I first started judo, and many other teachers in the school system that happened to also be judo black belts, that until I started judo, I did not know where black belts.
Other friends such as Cole Massie and Skilled Companion Ilia, and their family who inspire me to keep working hard no matter what. Who shared the most private parts of their lives as a family and a child with a disability on national television. Whose service dog won the 2008 ASPCA Dog of the Year, and as a family won the 2009 Honda Helpful Award. He’s helped inspire the writing of this blog, and me to seek orientation and mobility training to become an independent traveler.
Yea, I do know some amazing people!
So, who do you know? A teacher, doctor, son, service person? Who are the people who inspire you, and are the amazing people you call friends… Blog it! And share your story…
Hell, I’m a legally blind photographer, and a black belt in judo myself. Do I inspire any one? Let me know!
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