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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Inspiring Martial Artists: Carl Hodgetts, Wheelchair-Bound Wing Chun Expert

England native Carl Hodgetts, 34, is a black belt in kickboxing and a Wing Chun expert, despite the fact that he’s been paralyzed from the waist down since birth. 

Hodgetts suffers from acute spina bifida. After years of schoolyard bullying, he turned to martial arts for a more peaceful and satisfying lifestyle. Hodgetts gained his black belt credibility in 2006 by the World United Martial Arts Federation after they classified his unique skills as “freestyle martial arts.” 

Because Hodgetts is bound to a wheelchair, he alters traditional moves to his advantage, such as by blocking kicks from his opponents with his hands and arms and uses the wheelchair as a way to protect himself. His method is simple: for taller opponents, he attacks knees, legs, shins, stomach, and the groin. For shorter opponents, Hodgetts aims for the face and top half of the body. 

Not only did Hodgetts gain physical skill, but martial arts have allowed him to be more at peace with his condition. He claims that it taught him serious discipline and self-control and he doesn’t allow what others may say about him anger and frustrate him.

Since 2006, Hodgetts has served as an instructor for both disabled and able-bodied students. He aspires to continue spreading his story and lessons across schools through demonstrations.

How's that for inspiring? Looks like Hodgetts listened when Bruce Lee said: “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Las Vegas Teen Melissa Duran Abducted, Held for Ransom

On August 31st, 17-year-old Melissa Duran was attacked and kidnapped from her home in Henderson, NV, a suburb just outside of Las Vegas, by two men who claimed they were armed with concealed weapons.

The abductors hit and attempted to drag Melissa through her front door and into their car after throwing sand in her face. Melissa's 11-year-old brother Kevin ran out and tried to hit the attackers with a baseball bat before the men motioned that they had guns and demanded Kevin keep his distance. Nonetheless, there was a struggle before reaching the car because Melissa was putting up quite a fight, but sadly she had no self-defense training to successfully untangle from the kidnappers' grips.

The abductors then locked and tied her up in an apartment, demanded ransom money from her parents, and threatened to do obscene things to Melissa and kill her family. Melissa was their captive for 21 hours until the next morning when a SWAT team raided the apartment and returned her to her family.

Upon arresting the kidnappers on several charges, it was learned that the two men were recently fired from Melissa's dad's company and they also had ties to human trafficking. Melissa's kidnappers were people she knew and without the SWAT team's rescue, it's uncertain what she would/could have done to get safely. Recently two more men were arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

Thankfully, Melissa is physically unharmed. We hope she uses this opportunity to advocate for basic self-defense instruction in schools nationwide.