Man paralysed from the waist down becomes a top martial arts instructor, has a black belt in kickboxing
By Daily Mail Reporter
A country ranger who is paralysed from the waist down has defied the odds to become a top martial arts instructor – after gaining a black belt in kickboxing.
Carl Hodgetts, 34, was left wheelchair bound after he was born with spina bifida. But incredibly, Carl achieved a first dan black belt in kickboxing – by using his arms and hands instead of his feet to ‘kick’ opponents.
Carl was awarded a black belt in kickboxing by the world governing body, the World United Martial Arts Federation in 2006. He followed the criteria for able-bodied kickboxing but to reflect Carl’s disability the federation rebranded his technique to ‘freestyle martial arts’.
Mr Hodgetts now teaches able-bodied and disabled students kickboxing.
Carl has had to use his skills on a number of occasions, including defending a woman from being attacked by a drunken assailant in a pub in Coventry three years ago.
Carl first got into the sport ten years ago after his sister Sarah, 37, got chatting to a martial arts instructor on a night out.
He said: ‘He had a problem, a disability, with his arm, and was encouraging people like myself to do martial arts.
‘My sister asked me ‘would you like to have a go?’ and I said ‘why not?’
‘At the belt gradings people looked at me thinking ‘what’s he doing here?’ People have always asked me so many questions about it, which is great because it helps raise the profile of disability sport.