We’ll miss you, Ian.

The UPMA family was saddened to learn that yesterday Ian Matuszak lost his battle with cancer. Ian was an inspiration to all of us both on and off the mat. He didn’t let anything stand in the way of pursuing his dream of training Jiu Jitsu. He directly had a hand in leading several of our students to sign up for their first tournament. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Matuszak family in this difficult time. An announcement regarding a tribute to Ian will be forthcoming.

Prevention of Bullying for People with Special Needs

There is a lot of talk these days about the problem of bullying. Many of us had to deal with bullies as kids. Sometimes, even as adults, we still find ourselves dealing with a bully. Unfortunately, this is often times an even bigger problem for our friends with special needs. Individuals with special needs are often seen as different and that alone can be enough to draw unwanted attention from a bully. Involvement in a martial art can not only help kids in dealing with bullies, but it can stop the situation from arising in the first place.

Training in the martial arts builds confidence. Kids that have the confidence in their ability to defend themselves will find it much easier to stand up to a bully from the get go. Usually, this takes care of the situation before it escalates to a physical altercation. The training itself helps children to overcome fears they may have about what may happen in a physical altercation. Bullying is very often an attempt to hide the insecurities of the bully. An insecure person won’t spend much time on someone with self confidence.

At the same time, being involved in a martial art can help prevent potential bullies from taking out their insecurities on others. For one, it helps to alleviate those insecurities. As stated above, it helps to build self confidence. It also teaches a respect for individual differences. On the mat, we are exposed to all different types of people. Everyone has to find a way to overcome their particular set of challenges. For example, a 5’4″ woman is going to train a lot differently than a 6’0″ man that is extremely over weight. However, both can be successful martial artists. Just imagine if you shared the mat with a disabled individual. You would gain so much respect for the way this person had to adapt in order to succeed.

Training can also help to alleviate stress. Whether it is the stress of feeling different or dealing with pressure within the home, a good workout is a healthy way to release pent up frustrations. It will also teach an individual to deal with feeling uncomfortable. Whether is is getting out of breath from a round of hitting the bags or dealing with the pressure of someone on top of you, one can learn a lot about themselves through martial arts training.

A good martial arts class also teaches it’s students discipline. Students learn to respect their instructor and other students in the class. All of this serves to support the good work that parents are doing at home. The biggest part of raising a child to be a happy, successful, kind adult lies with the parents. All the aspects of a martial arts class can serve to support what parents are doing at home.

Finally, a martial arts class helps to foster friendships. Very often individuals with special needs find themselves isolated. That bond of training together week after week helps to form friendships that can last a lifetime. It also helps students to feel like they are part of a group, which in turn, can help them to form friendships outside of the academy.

Training in a martial art has many wonderful benefits. Usually we think of the physical benefits, like increased strength and balance. It also has so much to offer an individual mentally. It helps people learn to deal with a bevvy of issues. Bullying is just one of them.

Pray for Our Friend Ian

You may remember that a few months ago we mentioned our friend Ian Matuszak. Ian is a jiu jitsu fighter with cerebral palsy and an all around good guy. He is also battling cancer. Ian needs our prayers right now. Please take some time to pray for his recovery and for his family. He has been in and out of the hospital battling infections and most recently fluid around his heart. He has been through so much and is due for a streak of good luck.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ian!