I asked powerful women in martial arts how training in their discipline helped them overcome issues, be stronger leaders and become more confident in themselves and less-self conscious of their bodies. I received so many replies from amazing women I decided to do a Martial Arts Mini Series. I hope you enjoy their stories of strength and endurance as much as I do.
Martial Arts for Women: Black Belt – White Cane Fighting Blind & Meeting Her Man
By Jody W. Ianuzzi Patron Life Member USJA
A blind woman is traveling alone down a dark, deserted street. There are some people who might consider her helpless and vulnerable. I would like to change that image. That blind woman just might be me on my way to teach my judo class.
Life presents many situations and some situations can be a bit more challenging then others. As a blind child in public school, I was constantly teased and harassed because of my blindness. I remember the school yard bully, who tested my vision by punching me in the face and laughed when I didn’t see the punch coming at me. My gym teacher gave me a permanent waiver from class, after years of sitting on the side lines while the rest of the class played a variety of ball games.
Eventually, I found a solution to these challenges as well. Judo became my ultimate alternative technique. When I first heard about judo classes, I was hesitant. Based on my past experience, I didn’t think the judo instructor would consider me as a student. Happily, I was wrong! The instructor didn’t care if I could see or not. He was more interested in what I could do, and I could do judo. I sincerely mean it when I say that my life hasn’t been the same since that day.
It is now many years later. Life has come full circle. I am the instructor and I am recruiting blind and sighted members to my judo club. I want to give to my students what judo has given to me.
Unlike some martial arts, judo needs no adaptation for blind players. Blind players have been active in judo for many years, practicing with sighted players on an equal basis. My students and I have attended many tournaments and clinics, both large and small and we have never been excluded or shown any favoritism. For blind children, judo can provide an opportunity to be “just one of the kids” both at practice and when attending club activities.
This is as it should be, as it benefits both the blind and sighted players and embodies the philosophy of judo as well.
Judo is a full contact form of self-defense that includes throwing techniques, pins, chokes and joint-locks. A basic principle of judo is that a small person can throw a larger person by using the motion of the larger person to throw himself. In this way, if a person pushes you, then you pull them into a throw.
The physical benefits of judo practice include self-defense training, weight control, and physical fitness. With regular practice there is a noticeable improvement in balance, coordination and orientation. Judo is enjoyed by men and women of all ages from small children to adults. It is a great way to get back into shape and stay in shape while having a lot of fun too. One aspect of judo that I enjoy is that it challenges your mind as well as your body. Other forms of exercise can be boring and it is easy to loose interest in them.
There is a philosophical benefit to judo training. As you challenge yourself you gain a feeling of accomplishment that carries over to all aspects of life. The knowledge that you can handle a physical conflict makes a verbal conflict much less threatening. You will find that you develop a strength of mind to stand up for what you believe in, but also a strength of mind that will allow you to step back when it is wise.
As skills and attitudes develop, the school yard bully becomes less of a concern. The blind person walking down the deserted street isn’t as vulnerable as some might think. The person who attempts to be dominating, finds they are not successful.
I hope I have sparked an interest in you to learn judo. It can change your life as it has changed mine. Challenge yourself!
When I started studying the martial arts I had no idea of how completely it would change my life. I met my husband in martial arts classes and our children grew up practicing with us.
I carry a sense of calm confidence when working in our computer security business, advocating for and mentoring blind children, being politically active and of course teaching the martial arts.