Congratulations are in order for our yellow belt, Yvette. She has been relying on her walker less and less. Finally, in her most recent IEP, her school decided that she no longer needed to use it, except for field trips.
What an amazing accomplishment for Yvette! We knew her strength and balance had improved and that it is almost impossible to sweep her, but this takes the cake. Her hard work has paid off and she will be reaping the benefits for the rest of her life. She is an inspiration to us all!
Once again, UPMA brought a large group of students to compete in the SJJIF Wolrd Special Jiu Jitsu Championship. Once again, our students shined for all the world to see. This was yet again a unique opportunity for the adaptive warriors of UPMA to go out and experience things that others take for granted. It was also an opportunity for members of the community to experience the joy that inclusion brings to all of us.
This year we brought 11 athletes to compete for a World Championship in Jiu Jitsu. All 11 students took home gold medals and memories to last a lifetime. For some it was their first competition and the biggest obstacle was overcoming nerves and anxiety about the new experience. For others, it was a chance to be pushed a little harder than they have before and to see what heights they could rise to. All gave outstanding performances and made their coaches and parents proud.
None of this would have been possible without the efforts of the SJJIF and Alosio Silva BJJ. Not only do they offer the event every year, they make their own students a part of it. It is so heart warming to watch the kids of Alosio Silva BJJ interact with and help the students of UPMA be their best. It does not go unnoticed how kind these kids are in their interactions. We thank everyone involved for working to create a kinder, more compassionate world through inclusion.
On Oct, 29, UPMA brought 9 athletes to compete at the SJJIF World Special Needs tournament with great success. It was truly touching to see the impact this one of a kind event had not only on our athletes, but on everyone in attendance that day. This is the first time that the SJJIF has included a special needs division. They also had deaf and para categories. Everyone at UPMA from the coaches to the athletes and parents was ecstatic about the experience and the performance of our fighters. The atmosphere was loud and exciting, but no one was overwhelmed. Every student did a great job of listening to their coaches and following directions. Perhaps the most amazing part of the tournament was how many spectators were truly touched to see our athletes out there. There were a lot of teary eyed people at the Long Beach Convention Center that day. Since then, there have been many people reaching out to us as well, some even wanting to start similar programs. Our hope here at UPMA is that this will be the first step in bringing Jiu Jitsu to everyone. Countless people have witnessed what our amazing students are capable of and will hopefully use this to bring more opportunities to the special needs community. We can not thank the SJJIF enough for all that they have done. Please watch the compilation video shot by one of our volunteers.
This is Ryan. He likes Gene Simmons, watching Buena Park TV, and doing martial arts. He has been enrolled at Unlimited Possibilities for about 4 years now and is a yellow belt, something of which he is very proud . He also has Soto Syndrome, a disorder characterized by a distinctive facial appearance, overgrowth in childhood, and learning disabilities or delayed development of mental and movement abilities.
Ryan is excited every Saturday to come to class and it shows. His exuberance is contagious and he brings a smile to everyone’s face as soon as he enters the room. When he first came to Unlimitied Possibilities he had very little muscle tone or flexibility. He also had a hard time running. He would take very small, slow steps on the balls of his feet. One of the first things his parents noticed after bringing him to class for a few months was the improvement in his gait. He is running quite well now and enjoys that part of the warm up . He also learned to side shuffle without falling over and now can be quite fast at it when he wants to be. Ryan has gained a lot of strength and coordination. He can even do a forward roll without any assistance.
Ryan continues to make tremendous improvements in his ability to stay on task and to listen to and follow directions. When he began, he needed constant redirection after only several minutes. One of the most exciting changes that we have seen in Ryan is in his level of participation in discussions. He is engaged and excited to answer questions about the day’s technique. Instead of just watching others participate, he is actively involved in all of the class activities. When not in class, he is excited to show off these new skills to friends and family members, in a safe way of course.
Ryan is pretty sure that one day he’ll be able to take Coach down and kick her butt. Dream big, Ryan!
The third edition of the Grappler’s Heart Tournament took place this past weekend in New York City. It is great to see some familiar faces as well several new competitors taking part. This tournament continues to be the only one of it’s kind geared toward people with disabilities.
Congratulations to all of the competitors! Hopefully, this is just the beginning of great things to come in the Jiu Jitsu world for all of them. This also marks the 2nd year that Ian Matuszak’s memory was honored with the Heart of a Champion Award. We hope that his memory will live on through this tournament.