Cross, Jab, Cross!
Evan was never a child who loved conventional anything...so when it came to sports, I should not have been surprised when he did not love soccer, basketball, baseball and the "usual" sports. I had always loved martial arts, but once I had kids and especially when Evan was diagnosed with autism, any free time to devote to me working out went right out the door. It was not until Evan's older brother, Jacob, began taking martial arts around the time he turned 7, that I set foot in a gym again. Evan, 5 at the time, would tag along to Jacob's martial art classes that were 2-3 times a week and we would spend about 2 hours in the gym. I brought ALL kinds of things to keep Evan busy during that lengthy period of time, but it seemed like the only thing that really kept Evan settled and quiet was the Ipad. I would watch Jacob, along with 20-30 kids other kids sweating and working out so hard and then I would turn and see my cute, chubby little Evan sitting on his Ipad for 2 hours and it just did not seem right. So, one day I approached one of the coaches...Coach Felipe. He was very gentle and mild mannered, but he still commanded respect from the kids and I felt he had such a positive energy about him. I asked him if he had any experience teaching martial arts to someone on the autism spectrum and he said he did not, but he did have a cousin with autism in his family so he understood what that meant. We decided to try a few private lessons with Evan and the rest was history. Evan was hooked. Watching Evan focusing, listening and working out was AMAZING! Coach Felipe was a stickler for form and technique and Evan always did an awesome job! Evan trained with Coach Felipe just about every week for about 3 years.
But soon, Jacob began to focus on tennis as his "sport" and driving Evan 30-40 minutes across town to his martial arts privates when Jacob had tennis lessons closer to our house got more and more difficult. So, we stopped, but Evan truly missed training. Coach Felipe moved on to a more business type of job as well, so we just could not coordinate a time for lessons. Fast forward a year when my husband and I partnered with a couple of colleagues to open up Point of Impact MMA. Even from the start of mere conversations about the gym, we all agreed how important it would be to implement a martial arts program for special needs kiddos. It took us some time to get the gym up and running, but The Champions Club is now a weekly class and Evan is so happy! The Champions Club is currently an adaptive martial arts class where kids with special needs can not only learn martial arts, but they are also often paired with hand-picked, responsible, typical peers to add a nice social component to the class. Having typical peers present also helps to raise awareness and educate typical children on how to be comfortable and how to effectively communicate with special needs kids, so in the end, it is a win-win situation for everyone!
If you are ever in the City of Orange in Orange County, CA, Evan would love it if you came down to check out Evan and The Champions Club. The class runs every Saturday, 1:00-2:00 pm. For questions or information, please contact Coach Bryan Castro. Point of Impact MMA is located at 542 W. Katella Avenue, Orange, CA 92867 (714) 681-1760. You can also find them at www.poimma.com.