Sensei Yamaguchi from Japan, a 6th Dan Black Belt, takes members of the Gympie JKS Karate Club through their paces during a three day seminar. The Gympie club now offers a special program allowing disabled people in wheelchairs to learn karate in a safe and supportive environment.
Sensei Yamaguchi from Japan, a 6th Dan Black Belt, takes members of the Gympie JKS Karate Club through their paces during a three day seminar. The Gympie club now offers a special program allowing disabled people in wheelchairs to learn karate in a safe and supportive environment. Submitted

Special ceremony marks big reveal

THE Gympie JKS Karate Club is officially the first in Australia to offer specialised training for disabled people in wheelchairs, while being among only a handful worldwide.

It’s a special achievement that has delighted Gympie JKS Karate Club secretary Johanna Mostofizadeh, who said the club lifted the veil on its program for disabled people at a special opening at the Red Hill Hall on April 24.

“Sensei Yamaguchi from Japan is a 6th Dan Black Belt in Karate, JKS Honbu Chief Instructor and for several years world champion in Kata Kumite,” she said.

“He visited Gympie and led a three day seminar, not only with teaching the club members and instructors in Kata and Kumite karate, but also for officially opening the club for disabled people in wheelchairs.”

With special skills in teaching wheelchair karate, Yamaguchi was a wealth of information for Gympie JKS Karate Club instructors Andrew Quinn and Hamid Mostofizadeh, together with the club’s 38 members.

“Yamaguchi demonstrated in front of all club members, invited guests and visiting international karate students that it is possible for disabled people in wheelchairs to defend themselves effectively,” Johanna said.

Attending the club’s special event was Gympie MP David Gibson, Gympie Regional Councillor Rae Gate and police inspector Ronald Van Saane.

“The demonstration of wheelchair karate impressed the audience deeply,” Johanna said.

The Gympie JKS Karate Club was formed in August last year and within a short period of time, has grown immensely.

Adding wheelchair karate to its list of services is yet another example of the forward-thinking club inventing ways to best serve the Gympie community.

Johanna said defence for people in wheelchairs was important, particularly after the bashing of a disabled man by two men in Melbourne a few months ago.

“Given the sad fact that a few months ago a disabled man was attacked and brutally bashed, it is a great new opportunity for disabled people in wheelchairs to be able to learn self defence in Australia,” she said.

Launching the program was a major event for the Gympie JKS Club, including an opening ceremony and a number of speeches.

Musicians from Saint Patrick’s College performed the Japanese and Australian national anthems.

Johanna thanked local businesses, including Credit Union Australia and Bendigo Bank, for their sponsorship.

Still riding high from the big reveal of its wheelchair karate program, Gympie JKS Karate Club continued its success the following week with a grading night attended by Sensei Yamaguchi.

Nearly every student passed their assessment to be granted a new belt, including young talent David Mostofizadeh who is the club’s first member to pass his black belt. His ahievement is a reminder of what hard work can produce.

Gympie Times


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