Kickboxing is not a sport that you would immediately associate with someone who uses a wheelchair, but that's not stopping UK man Carl Hodgetts. In fact, Carl, who has spina bifida and is paralysed from the waist down, has a black belt in kickboxing and is a top martial arts instructor.
Carl uses his hands and arms rather than his feet to ‘kick’ his opponents. Carl’s black belt was awarded to him by the World United Martial Arts Federation in 2006. Although he did follow the criteria applied to non-disabled kickboxing, the Federation rebranded Carl’s technique as ‘freestyle martial arts’ in order to reflect his disability. Now Carl teaches both disabled and non-disabled students kickboxing.
Carl uses different blocks and techniques to traditional kickboxers, meaning that he has to do much more work with his arms. He uses his wheelchair too and says that being seated low down actually gives him an advantage. Carl’s skills were called into action when he was out with friends in a bar. A drunken man grabbed hold of Carl’s sister and attempted to assault her. Carl intervened and the man ended up on the floor!
Carl says that many people are curious about him, especially when he attends belt gradings. Rather than feeling intimidated Carl uses the opportunity to raise the profile of adaptive sports and martial arts for all people.
Despite his remarkable achievements to date, Carl is keen to progress. He is continually learning different techniques and ways to move his chair to incorporate it into defensive strategies. Carl is preparing to take his second dan grading which will mean that he will be qualified to train people up to black belt level.
Carl’s achievements are truly remarkable and stand out as a shining example of determination and dedication to all. There are many thriving martial arts clubs that specialise in making the sport accessible to everyone. Why not try something new today?
Image source: jomec.co.uk