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Joe Ellis proves that Asperger is no barrier to success

29th July, 2008 - Joe Ellis, Chairman of NAKMAS (the National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools) the national governing body of all forms of martial arts in the UK, has announced that he has the neurobiological condition known as Asperger Syndrome. The announcement coincides with the introduction of the NAKMAS Asperger Syndrome training programme, aimed at educating martial arts coaches about the condition.

As well as being the Chair of NAKMAS since its establishment in 1992 and the former President and Chair of Karate England, Joe is a karate 6th Dan black belt and a master of the Tsuyoi style of karate. He has decided to speak out about his condition to show others with Asperger Syndrome that they too can succeed in their ambitions.

To ensure individuals with Asperger Syndrome have full access to the martial arts, the NAKMAS Asperger Syndrome training programme aims to educate martial arts coaches about the symptoms of the disorder. The programme is aimed at the grass roots of the sport, working within local authority areas, and will go live early in 2009.

Joe Ellis said, “I want to show that there is no need for anyone with Asperger Syndrome to miss out on the success and enjoyment that the martial arts – or any other area of life – can bring.”

Sandra Beale, the Equality Lead Officer/Director of Operations at NAKMAS, attained a Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger Syndrome from the Sheffield Hallam University last year and is responsible for the new NAKMAS Asperger Syndrome Programme. She commented that, “Individuals with Asperger Syndrome are well suited to martial arts as classes tend to follow a specific order, can be repetitive, and include detailed instructions with reasons. Students also work as individuals more, depending upon the discipline chosen. All these things are attractive to a person with Asperger Syndrome, and they can also gain confidence and more experience in social situations.”

Asperger Syndrome is the highest functioning end of the autistic spectrum, and was only officially included within the definition of autism in 1994. Defining traits of the condition are struggling with social situations and non-verbal communication (body language) as well as being good at absorbing details and focusing for very long periods. This single-minded attention to detail has lead many to think that previous, undiagnosed sufferers have included Michelangelo, Einstein and Jane Austen.

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Notes for editors:

The National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools (NAKMAS) is a non-funded national governing body and is a member of CCPR (the Central Council of Physical Recreation). With its Head Office based in Kent, NAKMAS governs all forms of traditional and modern martial arts and has over 65,000 members within the UK.

NAKMAS is an approved insurance provider via Lloyds and holds a National and International Quality Standard Certificate via the BSI (British Standards Institute) as well as the Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport.

Coaching awards to the standard of the NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and UKCC (United Kingdom Coaching Certificate) are available within NAKMAS. It has an active NSPCC approved Welfare Policy, and has launched a UK-wide anti-bullying initiative called the ‘NAKMAS Safe Kids Campaign’. It also has Registered Body status via the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) and Disclosure Scotland to check against the criminal records register.

For further information, please contact:

Joe Ellis, Chair and acting lead child protection officer, NAKMAS National Governing Body
Tel: 01227 370055 / 07976 736404
Fax: 01227 370056
Email: joe.ellis@nakmas.org.uk
Web: www.nakmas.org.uk



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