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Unrestricted access to martial arts for those with Asperger Syndrome and autism in general is a key aim of the National Association of Karate and Martial Art Schools (NAKMAS), says chair of NAKMAS Joe Ellis.

Speaking at the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s I Exist campaign launch recently, Joe Ellis, who himself lives with AS, talked about how the martial arts can benefit children and adults with the condition.

NAKMAS has been working closely with the National Autistic Society in creating the NAKMAS Asperger Syndrome Instructor Accreditation which will be launched soon throughout NAKMAS.

And now NAKMAS is calling on politicians to put their weight behind efforts to create greater support for adults with autism.

Joe Ellis says:

“The Autism Bill is currently in Westminster, so now is the time for our politicians to support the initiatives embodied in the bill.

“NAKMAS is doing its part to make sure the opportunities are available to those with autism to access and excel in martial arts. Those with AS in particular become excellent coaches, well focused and determined.”

Regina Cox, National Co-ordinator for the NAS Northern Ireland

“The Martial Arts Classes in Northern Ireland have been a phenomenal success. Parents have been delighted with the improvements they have seen in their child’s balance, concentration and self esteem. Most importantly the children are having great fun and really enjoying the classes.”

NAKMAS has thrown its support behind the I Exist awareness campaign with Joe addressing the Northern Ireland launch, which was themed as Living with Asperger Syndrome, about his personal experiences.

Joe says: “Those with Asperger Syndrome have obsessions and some aspects of life can be difficult for those with the condition. I am no exception to the rule. Martial arts have helped me mentally and physically become more focused. I suppose I am proof of the benefits the martial arts can deliver.”

At the I Exist campaign launch, Joe revealed how his wife, Sandra, became aware that he might have the condition while she was studying a Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger Syndrome at Sheffield Hallam University. Following tests, it was confirmed Joe has the condition.

Joe adds: “Without Sandra's involvement and support I would not be where I am today. Yet while not everyone has someone like Sandra to support them, we hope that the NAKMAS Asperger Syndrome Instructor Accreditation and the I Exist awareness campaign, as well as the Bill, will raise awareness and provide support for others.”

NAKMAS has since been advising and assisting the NAS Northern Ireland in setting up specific martial arts classes for children and adults who have autism.


Notes to editors:

Find out more about National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s I Exist campaign at

Learn more about Asperger Syndrome at

Visit to find out more information about the Adults with Autism Bill.


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) and a member of the National Autistic Society.

With its Head Office based in Kent, NAKMAS governs all forms of traditional and modern martial arts and has over 73,000 members within the UK.

NAKMAS is an approved insurance provider via Zurich and holds a National and International Quality Standard Certificate via the BSI (British Standards Institute). NAKMAS has also been accredited to the Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport.

For further information, please contact:

Joe Ellis, Chair of the NAKMAS National Governing Body
Tel: 01227 370055 / 07976 736404
Fax: 01227 370056

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