The fact that children and adolescents with special needs require physical and mental stimulation to maximize their quality of life has been repeatedly confirmed. Many scientific studies have demonstrated that the people with or special needs improve their mental faculty, motor nerve coordination, physical well being, and their sense of community through structured exercise that increases the demand on their biological system, namely mind-body coordination, social interaction, sensory subsystems, communications and self esteem. Specific and successful programs have been developed to improve their well being.
Two examples of these programs are Special Olympics and the martial arts. Unfortunately, the Special Olympics program is to infrequent and not generally available to the multitudes of those who would benefit from such a program. As an alternative martial arts is available and is generally wide spread through out the United States, however, not all of these programs are structured to accommodate the special needs nor are their instructors experienced and educated on the required material and processes.
The community of Colorado Springs does have a program designed to service people with disabilities. This program is a martial arts based system and is taught by a chief instructor with three decades of experience, Grandmaster Gene Brigham. Known as the Golden Spirit System, it is essentially comprised of a graduated array of structured and intricate mental and physical patterns that integrate into higher orders of movement and coordination as the practitioner masters the material.
The benefits follow:
Increased mental discipline and self awareness
Enhancement of one's sense of self, relationship to environment, self esteem
Increased physical fitness, flexibility, coordination, motor skills, self confidence
Regular stimulation of the body-mind and sensory subsystem
Simultaneously combines mental and physical enrichment through learning
Fun, socialization, increased ability to express oneself, communicate
Increased ability to concentrate and focus, set goals and realize objectives.
Grandmaster Brigham, a tenth degree black belt, chose the Golden Spirit System for our students with special needs because of factors listed above. The art offers more straight line katas such as the "H" "L" and "T" patterns. The katas have movements that continually require right and left brain usage. This type of exercise promotes and stimulates cognitive and physical development for our students.
Undoubtedly, mastery of both physical and the mental discipline is required to learn the material offered by the Golden Spirit System and is a vital aspect of learning and growing. Another part of the System is its self defense program. Its moves are quick, simple in nature, and extremely effective. Additionally, the System employs the Bo and Kali Sticks as devices that are virtual extensions of one's body. They are effective self defense devices that improve the student's coordination, fluidity, and balance.
The Golden Spirit program is a complete martial arts system that accommodates students with special needs. We have educated many children and adolescents using this format and have several success stories. The Golden Spirit System is currently being taught to young adults and adults with disabilities. We have three experienced Instructors under the direction of Grandmaster Brigham.
Why is this class important to the Shorin Kung Fu Dojo? Personal interest, because Grandmaster knows and understands the triumphs and the heartaches of both the child with disabilities and their families. It is a journey he has experienced himself with his son. He has seen Martial Arts training improve behavior, character, mind-body, and self esteem in his own child as well as others he has trained throughout his 50+ years of martial arts instruction experience.