special needs

Karate and Special Needs

Karate for children with special needs is different in some aspects. With consideration of students with various conditions, sensei need to understand each student as each student faces different challenges when practicing karate. In many cases, these students may have poor motor skills and therefore are not coordinated. Cognitively, it may take these students longer to grasp concepts. Sensei need to be understanding of this and be patient. However, these students by no means come to the dojo to play around. Most are genuinely interested in learning karate. They are capable of learning karate; it may simply take them longer to learn than others. Just like their peers, they can learn kata, too. And, with encouragement from their peers and sensei, they will do even better.

In fact, some moves, such as rolling on the tatami or jumping are performed better by special needs children than others. We teach karate for special needs children as a martial art, a competitive sport, and as a tool for self-defense. More importantly, karate can give them confidence—an invaluable trait students need for life. Like all students,

Karate may also be practiced by some people in wheelchairs. In fact, these students acquire very strong arms because they have to move in the wheelchair in different directions. Techniques of self-defense may also be developed using fists and elbows. They can move their bodies and use their hands to defend an attack on their faces. They can even immobilize an opponent, defending themselves from being gripped.


  1. June 1, 2016

    Being friendly to kids with special needs is one of the best ways to be helpful. As you get to know them, they may help you understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. And you’ll be helping fill a very special need, one that everybody has the need for good friends.

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