On April 30, 2016, the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia will be launching a new martial arts/self defense program, called Self Defense Without Limits – in conjunction with Sirota’s Alchymy.
For Marcus Skerratt, martial arts has provided an outlet to release negative energy and counter the rejection he’s faced in his life. That’s until he found martial arts through Michael Sirota’s Alchymy, where he has gained self-confidence and affirmed skills he already had, such as self-discipline and respect.
The 31-year-old Surrey resident, who lives with cerebral palsy, has been involved with martial arts for one year now. He has achieved his orange belt and is working towards his yellow belt. Besides mastering the levels, he feels that he carries himself with more strength and is more aware of what is going on around him, due to his training and sharpened focus.
“I don’t know where I would be without Michael Sirota’s academy. The first part of the alchymy is ‘acceptance’, and I feel that the master has it in spades,” says Skerratt. He believes acceptance comes from within, and that everyone is on a path that leads to self-confidence and growth.
For Skerratt, what makes Sirota’s Alchymy unique is that it includes people with disabilities and programs are formulated to meet their needs. “When I feel unsure about something, we will take a look at the technique [and] see different ways it will work,” he says. “There is a technique called the S-lock and abled-bodied people will use two hands, but the way it has been adapted I use the handle of my walker to execute the technique. It is a type of wrist lock used as a self defense move which is the foundation of martial arts.”
Ever since he was little, Skerratt had wanted to do martial arts. He grew up watching martial arts movies and Bruce Lee has been a hero and inspiration to him. “From an early age, I saw the healing aspects of martial arts and I was inspired by Bruce Lee’s story and his rehabilitation and hard work to get better and improve his life,” says Skerratt.
The healing powers of martial arts are also touted by Dr. Janice Brunstrom, a physician with cerebral palsy who founded and directed the Cerebral Palsy Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She believes that martial arts provides children with exercise and helps with their self-confidence. ”It really opens people’s eyes to what someone with cerebral palsy can do, and it gives the kids a real sense of accomplishment.”
This is certainly the case for Skerratt, who truly believes that martial arts gives participants the strength and will power to say “yes we can.”
“It has given me a little bit of everything. It has helped me channel any negative feelings into martial art. It is a sort of a holy experience for me,” said Skerratt. For him, martial arts “is a beautiful feeling” and the academy is like a second family where he’s included and accepted for who he is.
Skerratt would recommend the sport as it has been a life changing experience for him.
“Don’t ever give up and take no for an answer, since there will be people who will help you become the best person you can be,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help because by asking for help we might be able to get exactly what we need”.
Skerratt hopes to get a black belt and believes that he can do it – maybe with a little help from the alchymy.