'Why Do Judo When You're The Only Amputee?'
People often ask me - 'Why do Judo when you're the only amputee?' or 'Surely it's really unfair that you fight against two-legged people......why do you even bother?'
My quick and easy response to them is 'why not?' Why should I deny myself a sport I love simply because I only have one leg? The truth is that we live in an able-bodied society and a world that is not fully adapted to those with physical differences so why should sport be any different? I'm used to adapting to everyday situations so for me, Judo is just another string to the bow that is life.
I suppose in some respects, it's actually pretty cool to be the only lower-limb in the country/potentially world to compete in Judo.
Ideally, we would live in a world full of equal opportunities and I truly believe that it will happen however unfortunately probably not in my lifetime. This just means that I have to try and make as much of a difference as possible while I am on earth. So in some respects, I hope that I can help create a movement to get more people with physical disabilities into Judo.
Judo is difficult with two legs, let alone one leg. Under the rules, I am not allowed to use my prosthetic as I could easily injure an individual. I find that I have a certain amount of hopping energy (as I call it). This means that I can only hop for a few minutes before I need to get off of my foot and recharge it. Balance plays a huge part of my judo as it is vital that I am not easily pulled out of place as the opponent can easily score a win. The great news is that once you are on the floor, you are on a more level playing field but referees don't like you to be on the floor for too long and like you to show that you are actively attacking.
The British Judo Association (BJA) are making great steps to make Judo more inclusive to those with physical, social or intellectual differences however they are limited by the number participants with physical disabilities.
The BJA have 'Special Needs Judo,' (SN Judo) which is very inclusive and the rules are quite different, to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe environment. Having said that, they do severely restrict what I am able to. In general the rules state that there should be:
- No drop throws
- No arm-locks or strangles
- No sacrifice throws
In August, I competed in the British Special Needs Judo Championship and I was the only amputee to have ever competed - it was also the case when I went to the Dutch Judo Competition in late November.
Last weekend, I went to Holland to compete in the Dutch Judo Competition, as well as another tournament that was happening while I was out there. I managed to achieve a silver medal while in Holland so there are definitely opportunities that are open to those that put the determination into it. I had such an amazing time with the team and it was great to feel a strong feeling of pride for my acomplishments.
The system is not yet built for people like me but I hope to help them create a fantastic system that can be replicated world-wide. In order to do this, I need your help. I need more amputees to be involved as Judo can be adapted for any disability but I need people to step up (or hop up) and show interest.
Please do get in contact if you're interested in Judo. Sadly, it's not yet a Paralympic sport for those without a visual impairment but together, we can try and change it!