On January the 16th, I was able to attend the Metal and Muscle Expo at the George R. Brown Convention Center. There are thousands of military personnel in America with physical injuries. Many of them have no idea as to what sports are out there for them to participate in or where to go to find others to compete with. The Metal and Muscle Expo introduces physically disabled athletes to Paralympic sports including sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, air gun shooting, murderball, and judo for the blind.Â Attendees can also test their agility and endurance on a challenge slalom course, play power soccer, participate in amputee walking/running clinics, and meet Paralympic athletes and coaches. Different clinics were held during the day and attendees were able to watch and participate with some of the best trainers around. One of the highest attended clinics was from Duane Stevenson. Duaneâ€™s clinic centered around MMA and self defense for the disabled. Duane is a nationally recognized trainer who also is physically disabled. Watching Duane take his athletes through his self designed courses, you would never guess he is disabled.
I was able to ask Duane a few questions about todayâ€™s event.
TCD.net: Tell us about the clinic youâ€™re putting on today.
Duane: Today we are conducting an MMA and Jiu Jitsu clinic to help empower the people who are physically challenged. I want them to understand that they can defend themselves and learn some cool things as well…
TCD.net: Do you think that the general MMA practitioner may have a misunderstanding as to how a physically disabled person can participate in MMA?
Duane: You canâ€™t judge a book by its cover; this sport is really not made for anybody. I have seen able bodied people come into a gym and limp out after one lesson never to return.
TCD.net: What are some of the benefits that a disabled person can get from MMA?
Duane: It helps to teach them to be empowered. Some people have no use of their lower bodies, but with Jiu Jitsu they are able to learn to use their bodies to help them pull off a large amount of ground techniques. Most disabled people who have lower body disabilities have extremely strong upper bodies. By learning MMA they can learn moves that use that tremendous strength to their advantage.Â They learn moves that allow them to hold the attacker close, so they cannot be hurt by the attacker. Also, they learn how to control and disable the attacker from a close range.
The Metal and Muscle Expo was a great opportunity for physically disabled people and able bodied people to see that limits cannot be set on the human spirit. The athletes in attendance defy the odds every time they suit up for their desired sport.