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Both Fencing & Martial Arts in the form of Judo are competed in at the Paralympic Games, where the classification process is used. Judo though is only available for the Blind. Martial Arts as a whole however is available to most individuals with Mobility Impairments in South Africa. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. Individuals in wheelchairs can take part in both Martial Arts & Fencing, from a wheelchair. Fencing for the Mobility Impaired, is actually named Wheelchair Fencing, however others can compete from a platform like a box. These sports are not only a source of fun, but great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people.
MARTIAL ARTS AND GAMES COMMITTEE OF SOUTH AFRICA (MASA) Is the official Governing Body for Martial Arts in South Africa, as sanctioned by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. MASA caters for a variety of disabled including those in wheelchairs, this is known as Wheel Chair Martial Arts. This not only is a source of fun, but is great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people, not to mention, learning a way to defend yourself. Criminals do not discriminate!
MASA was created in 1994 with the guidance of the South African Government, the prime objective of the organization is the unification of various Martial Arts under one organization, which is managed using the fundamental principles of integrity, fairness and non-discrimination.
As a result of this approach the Martial Arts & Games Committee SA has developed into an organization which assists smaller groups with administrative training and guidance, so that they ultimately conform to the recognition criteria as stipulated by the SASCOC and the constitution of MASA.
As a result of this, MASA has opted to adopt a unique structure which accommodates even the smallest group and ensures that all groups have equal input and voting rights, thus large individual styles cannot use MASA as their individual powerbase to control the other groups.
MASA does not have provincial organizations as this could cause some smaller groups from being excluded in various decision making processes, but instead MASA has opted for a block representation system, ensuring that all organizations through their democratically elected representatives form part of the National Executive Council of MASA.
When a new affiliate becomes part of MAASA, they are placed in a "block",
which is a committee specifically concerning itself with the functioning of martial arts that has its origin in a specific region.
The following blocks exist in MAASA at present:
- Japanese Weapons
- Japanese Throwing Arts
- Korean Martial Arts
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Sports Martial Arts
- Amateur Kick Boxing
Each affiliate which forms part of these blocks has two members that are democratically elected at the annual congress of MASA) who then form part of the executive of that specific block insuring that all affiliates have equal representation and voting privileges.
All the executive members of the various blocks (two per affiliate) then in turn elect two members (at the annual congress of MASA) from their blocks, to represent the block on the National Executive Council of MASA. These elections take place annually.
Thus MASA in conjunction with the SASCOC sets the guide lines and assists the various blocks to comply with the criteria.
Any application for National Colours are evaluated according to the selection criteria, as well as the compliance to the set overall criteria.
Benefits of Martial Arts for Persons with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a disease that can be debilitating both physically and mentally for an individual. Doctors and researchers alike are constantly searching for new kinds of therapies for people afflicted with such a condition. Martial arts like karate have been included in physical therapy regiments used to help people with cerebral palsy as far back as 2001, according to USA Today.
The JKA Karate Centre in Cape Town is just one of the clubs in South Africa that also cater for persons with disabilities, including persons with Cerebral Palsy. For the last nine years, Ryan has fastidiously studied karate at the Milnerton JKA Karate Centre in Cape Town. He is full of praise for his instructor, Sensei Debbie Evans, and his fellow students who, he says, pull no punches in his training.
Wheelchair fencing is one of the sports in the Summer Paralympic Games. It is governed by the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), who strive to develop wheelchair fencing across South Africa & Africa. Until recently Libya was the only African country with active wheelchair fencers.
Wheelchair Fencing South Africa
In October 2015 Wheelchair Fencing was introduced by the Klein Karoo Sports Club for the Disabled to 40 athletes in Oudtshoorn, South Africa.
Klein Karoo were keen to develop an inclusive sport suitable for people with a variety of impairments and found wheelchair fencing could open up those opportunities. Following a demonstration from Susan Agrella of a local able-bodied fencing club in early October, athletes tried the sport out.
In a short time following the official introduction, the club produced eight wheelchair fencing athletes aspiring for fencing success. The first competition for the fencers was in February 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa, with the eventual aim to represent their country on an international level at International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Championships and the Paralympic Games.
This makes the development of the Klein Karoo sports club the first of its kind in the countries of Southern Africa.
The club is also looking for opportunities to train coaches and officials to strengthen the infrastructure of the sport within South Africa & IWAS looks forward to the promising potential of wheelchair fencers from Africa as development and promotion continues across the continent.
If you would like to find out more, you can contact Le-Ana Olivier on 044-2720683 or 0825791254, or at the Klein Karoo Sport Club for the Disabled at P. O. Box 86, Oudtshoorn, 6620.
The competition takes place in the form of pool stages followed by direct elimination rounds. During a contest the fencers’ wheelchairs are fastened into medal frames on the floor, allowing freedom of the upper body only.
Although fencers cannot move back & forth, the fact that there are no restrictions to upper body movement means duals are as exciting and fast as in non-disabled Fencing events.
Fencers record hits by striking their opponent cleanly in the valid area, with successful hits recorded by the electronic equipment.
There are three disciplines in Wheelchair Fencing, & they are based on the type of sword used, which include The Foil, The Epee & the Sabre.
In the Foil event, fencers are only permitted to strike the trunk area of the opponent, whereas in the Sabre and Epee, anywhere above the waist is a valid target area.
Bouts last a maximum of four minutes in the preliminary stages, with victory going to the first fencer to score five valid hits or the one with the most hits at the end of the four minutes. Bouts in the first round of competition are the best of nine hits. The top competitors are promoted to a direct elimination, where bouts are awarded to the first get to 15 hits.
In the knockout stages, bouts consist of three rounds of three minutes. The winner is the first to score 15 hits, or the highest scorer at the completion of the contest. In the event of a tie, an extra one-minute sudden death bout is held, with the first person to score a valid hit taking the contest.
Classification divisions are based on impairment.
- Class A (athletes with full trunk movement and good balance.) They have been classified as either Class 3 or Class 4 fencer. These athletes have a good sitting balance, either with or without the support of their lower limbs. Athletes with a low level spinal lesion, athletes with double above the knee amputation and comparable impairments can compete in this class.
- Class B (athletes with no leg movement and impaired trunk and balance functions) They have been classified as a Class 2 fencer. These athletes have a fair sitting balance and an unaffected fencing arm. They most often have paraplegia or incomplete tetraplegia with fencing arms that are minimally affected.
- Class C (athletes with a disability in all four limbs, these fencers are classified as a Class 1A or 1B fencer. This classification features at international competition but is not included at the Paralympic Games.
Wheelchair fencing has been contested at every Summer Paralympic Games since they were first held in Rome1960. Wheelchair Fencing was introduced to the Stoke Mandeville International Games by Dr Ludwig Guttmann in 1953.