Sunday, April 19, 2015

Martial Arts For The Blind

Devin Fernandez, right, demonstrates self-defense with a student.

A martial arts program has been established on Long Island geared specifically for the blind. In 1987 Devin Fernandez was injured in a work-related accident that eventually left him without 90 percent of his eyesight. Undeterred by his fate, he now heads the martial arts program for Third Eye Insight:

The first of its kind on Long Island, Third Eye Insight™ (TEI) provides free physical fitness classes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Classes include instruction in the practice of Martial Arts/Self Defense, Yoga and Meditation. By promoting physical activity and sports through health and fitness classes, TEI provides its students with the motivation, self-confidence, and self-esteem to achieve their goals and to meet life’s challenges head on.

Devin, who holds black-belt rank in Japanese jiu-jitsu and Ninpo, acknowledges there is little a blind person could do about a punch they can't see coming, but said if an attacker were to grab them, their training could make all the difference. For a person who is visually impaired, taking a standup style that incorporates joint-locks and grappling at close range makes good sense.

The long term goal for Third Eye Insight is to franchise the model that exists on Long Island and create facilities across the country. In addition to martial arts, TEI would like to offer weight training classes and access to a pool and track for the blind and visually challenged.

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