I was born with a condition called cerebral palsy. It means that the signals from my brain don't transfer to my legs in the right order, making it difficult to walk and causing muscle stiffness. Essentially the only parts of my body that I am able to use consistently are my right leg and right arm, which make certain exercises difficult to perform. I have previously played wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and started getting into wheelchair racing. It was difficult to keep up with these due to physical limitations and also location and timings, as I had other commitments at the time.
I currently work as a network engineer. Being in a desk-bound job, I was craving physical exercise and wanted to get to the same level of fitness I was at when I was at college, as well as something that would help me mentally de-compress. When my friend who is also wheelchair bound got mugged, I started looking into the option of learning self defence. A collegue of mine suggested Krav Maga, which I had never heard of before. I started some research and looked at videos and articles on Krav Maga and I liked what I saw. My friend suggested I find somewhere to do it.
I didn't do anything about it for a couple of months but after a late shift one night I googled Krav Maga Stevenage and Matt's club came up. I felt anxious about calling, I thought I'd probably get rejected by the instructor due to being in a wheelchair. After a couple of days I summed up the courage to give Matt a call and explained my situation and asked him if he was willing to teach me.
I was relieved when he suggested to meet with him, explaining that he would be willing to teach me but he needed to discuss and assess the situation as he had not previously taught a wheelchair bound person. We met on the next day, he had brought David along, one of his most senior students who ended up being my training partner for the next 8 months to support my training. Following this meeting I did my first class. I am usually nervous about meeting new people but everyone made me feel very welcome, a bunch of 'nutters' but lovely people I thought.
One of the most important things to me was that I would not be treated differently and they took it on board from the very start and these people are now my extended family.
I continued training and grading with the rest of the guys and am now a Level 3 practitioner, something that I am very proud of and never thought possible.
Matt is a very patient instructor who takes great interest in the development of his students and particularly in my case invested a lot of time and effort into my advancement with Krav and creating an adapted syllabus to give me and any future students in wheelchairs the chance to reach our full potential.
I am now planning to train in Israel and, in future, teach others in a similar situation as myself as I passionately believe that everyone, no matter in what condition, has the right and should be able to defend themselves.