Crystal Greenwood, a second dan black belt in karate, teaches classes at Okami Martial Arts, the dojo she and her husband Kelly run.
“I have a big passion for self-defence,” Greenwood said. “I feel that everybody has the right to feel safe. So, I was really excited for this.”
Although there are some obvious differences between the adaptive and regular martial arts classes taught by Greenwood, she says the striking and blocking doesn’t differ much.
“Obviously, we’re taking away the legs in this, but, everything else is still exactly the same. One thing that we call this is adaptive martial arts. Martial arts are adaptive for anybody (of) any ability or age,” she said.
Although she may teach the course, the idea was the brainchild of Porteous resident Debi Funk who reached out to Crystal and Kelly about starting a weekly self-defence class at the lodge.
“I wanted to become more independent,” Funk said. “(I wanted to) go out in the city and do things on my own, but, I just didn’t feel very safe.”
The courses have offered Funk a renewed feeling of empowerment and freedom.
“I was always very timid to go out because I just don’t feel that safe. I used to be a very independent person, and then I got in the chair and it kind of changed things,” she said. “Actually now I’ve started taking transit buses and transferring downtown and that kind of thing. I’m just not (as) scared like I (once) was.”
For Greenwood, seeing the positive changes in her students’ lives is the most rewarding part of the class.
“It almost makes me want to cry. I’m a big crier. But, it makes me very proud and happy that they’re finding something from this, and I’m gaining lots from this too,” she said.