Let's focus on what we can do!

By Disabled People for Disabled People

Thursday, 17 August, 2023

Karate Student, kicking down barriers in her path By Ross Duncan

Sophie Jones, By all accounts is a remarkable young lady at nearly 21 she represents one of the home nations in her chosen sport of Para-Karate.

Although having down syndrome, for nearly 7 years in her chosen sport of Para-Karate she continually fights the good fight and while others may have failed at the first fence, she confounds others with her attitude to life by literally kicking down barriers in her path.

Originally moving from dancing to taking up karate this gave her a head start. This also gave her a level of balance and discipline but most of all has given her a real sense of achievement and purpose in life. Since taking up Para-Karate she has grown in stature and confidence and that has been a real game changer. Her improvement in social interaction with others hasn’t gone unnoticed by either her peers or her parents who willingly ferry her all around the UK just to attend competitions where she regularly comes home with a brace of medals. Later this year as an acknowledgement of her effort she has been given an invite to demonstrate Para Karate as a sport at an event in Brussels.

Growing up in Edinburgh she attended a local mainstream primary school in Edinburgh at the age of 11 she later went on to attend a special school and is currently at college hoping soon to get a job.

According to her mother on the first day attending Para-Karate Sophie, ‘felt like a power arranger’ and this has energised her to take it as far as she can. Her current ambition is to gain the coveted black belt and eventually visit Japan.

Currently, she trains twice a week and is aided and abetted by six Dan instructor Andy Elliot. Andy is a self-employed karate instructor he is also no stranger to challenges such as being dyslexic and having a slight speech impediment. He uses his own fighting spirit to good use to help others and is a man in demand.

When children in special schools may have been overlooked in the past. Recognising the benefits, Andy frequently finds himself being hired out by local authorities to go into special schools to teach children with a variety of different needs a few karate disciplines like teamwork, discipline and fitness.

It was in 2006 that the World Karate Federation created and set up the Para-Karate Commission to find a way in which to develop and promote inclusion for disabled people to fully participate in karate.

Para-Karate principally means ‘modality of karate’. Para-Karate concentrates on the ‘developing of the ancient disciplines of Kata’.

Following this, by 2015 the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board (IPC) had accepted the World Karate Federation as the 30th sport discipline within the Paralympic family.

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