October 2014 ISSUE Click Here

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AMAA Wall Of Achievement

Nominated by Master Jon Bottomms, adaptive student Allen McGraw is recognized for his martial arts achievements at the Eastern United States International Martial Arts Association Black Belt Hall of Fame. Allen is a student at the Vermont Martial Arts Academy in Rutland, VT.


It is with great pleasure that I submit this letter of recommendation for Jason Davis. Mr. Davis been my patient for years, and I can truly say he is an inspiration. He has never let his physical disability limit his potential, and his approach to maintaining and improving his health has been a powerful example to both impaired and able bodied individuals alike.

His dedication to starting and growing a disabled martial arts organization serves as a shining example of managing health issues with positive attitudes and exercise, as opposed to medications and procedures. We could all benefit from more people with his positive energy, insight and motivation.  Michael J. Kenosh, MD, Vermont Orthopedic Clinic


Our son, thirty year old Odell Johnston, Jr. is a student in the adaptive martial arts program.. He joined the class two months ago. To say he is enjoying the class is an understatement.

Before he was born he had an in-utero stroke. He was born with cerebral palsy that caused muscle weakness on his right side. It especially affects his right arm and hand and the motion of his right leg. His learning and speech and memory have been challenged too. In high school he was diagnosed with epilepsy, to this day seizures are uncontrolled with all of the best medical help available. At the age of 20 he lost 80% of his sight due to the itching caused by eczema resulting in the scratching of the cornea of his eyes.

Martial arts have changed Odell’s life. Sensei instructs with a soft spoken but assertive style. She empowers all of the students both mentally and physically. She treats them as individuals and then she brings them together as a team.

Sensei encourages mind over matter. In Odell’s case the matter is very itchy eczema. We have never seen Odell work through any exercise, concentrating more on the moves than the discomfort. His attitude about his physical limitations have changed in the dojo. This “juice” is overflowing into his everyday life. He started the adaptive martial arts program with the television stereotypical idea that karate was all about fighting. Knowing that is okay to retreat but having the ability to defend oneself is the basis of his instruction.
Odell has blossomed since starting Karate. He is more confident. He initiates interactions with the people around him. Odell’s self esteem has soared to new levels! We have seen improvement in his agility. We are amazed at how much he is using his right arm, hand, and leg both in movement and extension.

Odell looks forward to class every week. He doesn’t resist Sensei’s firm but kind, no nonsense approach. She has helped Odell believe in himself. HE CAN DO IT! He wants to learn his moves correctly. He is realizing competition is with himself! You can see the self discipline and determination necessary for success on each face, students and instructors alike.

We, as parents, have always believed Odell’s abilities have been eclipsed by lack of confidence. Perhaps we encouraged too much. The adaptive martial arts program and Odell have come together at the right time.

Odell Sr. and Carol Johnston

As a parent of a child with autism, I had exhausted typical therapies. We were not making a lot of progress with medication so I decided to look for a program where he could work on impulse control and that would help channel our son’s aggression.

Doctor’s in the past suggested martial arts, however, we did not want to encourage more kicking and punching. After a particularly challenging period, I revisited the idea of karate and started researching programs in our area.

I  brought Ryley to class and watched with such emotion as the staff worked with the children. We left the karate school with a new gi (karate uniform) and his first karate belt. More importantly, I left with a child who was proud, confident, and full of dreams of becoming a black belt.

Regardless of Ryley’s day, when he walks through the door of the dojo, he is confident and just another student amongst many who have similar goals. Like all the other students, he is treated with respect and held accountable to follow the student creed. What I value most is that success in not measured by belt color alone. Instead, success is defined by how you support, encourage, and teach others.

Ryley’s proudest moment since starting karate was being asked to work on kicking technique with a little boy  in a “traditional” class who was having an especially difficult time focusing that day. Feeling valued and honored, Ryley realized that if he continued to practice his techniques and work on regulating his emotions, he could be a junior instructor. Ten minutes of helping another child did more for his confidence and self-esteem than any other therapeutic program.

Ryley recently shared that he feels “normal” when he is at karate and commented on the fact that “the other kids and instructors also have a hard time remembering their techniques, just like me”. Karen Fisher, Manchester, NH (Manchester Martial Arts Academy)


For the past couple of years, I wanted to join a martial arts class. I contacted a couple of places, but none seemed to fit my disability. Because I have a visual impairment, I needed someone who would really work with me up and beyond the classroom setting. Jason Davis, founder of the Adaptive Martial Arts Association told me about Rising Sun Martial Arts. I talked with the instructor of the dojo and it seemed like a perfect match. In September of this year, I earned my first rank of orange belt. Rising Sun has been a wonderful place to practice the martial arts. If it wasn’t for the Adaptive Martial Arts Association, I would not be studying karate. I would recommend anyone who has a disability to contact the AMAA for help in finding a martial arts school that is right for them. You will never regret it.  Josh Tabor, Age 28, Sight and Hearing Impaired


Jason Davis, President and Founder of the AMAA is a patient with Cerebral Palsy. Due to Jason’s participation in a Martial Arts Program he has able to maintain his functional abilities and muscle strengths. I feel that the Martial Arts have been very beneficial to his health and should be continued.  Dr. Robin L. Myers ANP, FNP

Community Health Centers Of The Rutland Region

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