Monthly Archives: July 2012

Wheelchair self defense

Have you seen the episode of Celebrity Death match with the tough (and heavily tattooed) quad rugby player, Mark Zupan? He pretty much kicked Chris Pontius’ butt, and it was awesome. It’s about time the world saw that wheelchair-users can have mad wheelchair self defense skills. There are a ton of us out there, and you’ll find us at every level of ability (I still have a ways to go). We can have great upper-body strength, so hey, shouldn’t be all that surprising right? And the following two videos you’re about to see are the BEST of the best when it comes to wheelchair self defense. This first video comes from the enlightened self defense school in San Diego, Jing Chen Koushu. The founder Greg, may be able-bodied, but holy cow is he one of the best wheelchair self defense trainers I’ve ever seen.  He’s trained Therese Riedel, (a very buff) C5 quad, some of the most intense wheelchair self defense moves I’ve ever seen anyone her level of spinal cord injury do. She learned the impressive stick self defense method (which so reminds me of the teenage mutant ninja turtles). You’ll see her do that, plus you’ll also see her through a series of boxing and blocking moves with her trainer (and btw, her cardio ability as a quad? yeah insanely strong.) I would not be able to do what she can (not yet at least. It would take a lot of training to get there). As they go through the moves (it’s amazing to watch, and it’s choreographed to rapper Maino), watch closely – if you’ve ever doubted a quadriplegic could defend herself successfully against an able-bodied attacker, watching this video might change your mind. There’s also another expert in the world of wheelchair self defense, and his name is Eric Kondo. He’s a T4-5 paraplegic from Massachusetts who‘s also an active member on our site (username Ekondo if you want to view his entire video archive). His self-defense site,, is the brain trust of all things related to wheelchair self defense. Erik lives and breathes self-defense. Lots of good info here. While Erik made a lot of wheelchair self defense videos, I think this video is his best one. It goes through a series of moves and showing you what to do if an attacker comes from the front, the back and how to defend yourself (successfully) in each situation. And once you get the attacker in your grip, the moves focus heavily on gouging the eyes (or wherever you can stick the attacker in the face). Woo fun!  ha Being in a situation where I have to even try to defend myself sounds like one of the scariest things that might ever happen to me, but if it must happen to me (or any of us), it’s good to know that if we wanted to, we could go to training, learn what’s up, and put up a darn good fight. Have you ever had to defend yourself from an attacker? What style of wheelchair self defense do you prefer? Watch the videos!Jing Shen Kuoshu (JSK) Therese Riedel #11 -Wheelchair Self Defense –  Paraplegic Self-Defense #1: Takedowns

SCI Superstar: Ricky James

One word has been driving Ricky James since he broke his back – perseverance (and he has the entire thing tattooed up his left leg in huge cursive font).

If you know motocross, you probably know who Ricky James is (and maybe knew about him before injury). He was a rising 15 year old star in the motocross world who started racing at the age of 2 (they called him a “prodigy on two wheels”). He was even home-schooled so he could keep up with his crazy schedule.

Motocross is in Ricky’s blood and always will be. That is why after his accident (he hit a dirt embankment racing Amateurs Nationals in Lake Whitney, Texas), he was the last guy to ever think of wiping his hands clean of the sport he grew up sleeping and breathing. Are you kidding? “Motocrossers are a different breed,” says Ricky.

Why he’s fearless

Ricky became paralyzed after breaking his spine in half (check out this insane x-ray of his injury on his site under “What is SCI?”) at the T6-7 level, but that didn’t stop him. Thanks to a family friend who was also paralyzed, after only five weeks after his injury Ricky was back out at the track with friends. He is still so alive, still so strong (both physically and mentally) and has energy that just won‘t quit. I love that Ricky refuses to let his injury stop him from doing what he loves. In layman’s speak? He’s on the same bike.

Ricky uses a steering stabilizer for more balance, electronic shifting and an electronic start to make up for the use of his legs; and those mods are NOT cheap. Thanks to his sponsors, including SoCal Trucks, Colours Wheelchairs and SHOEI, he has the coolest set-up any adrenaline-addict paraplegic could dream of (and also thanks to help from the paralyzed motocross experts @ Para Pros Racing).

Ricky was back racing within months of his injury, and is doing a lot more on top of straight motocross. He also races motokarts (“adaptive motox;” a new sport created by the X-Games, which he was in in 2008) and off-road trucks. “I don’t want to be known as the wheelchair guy that races,” he says. “I want to be known as that really fast guy who happens to be in a wheelchair.”

What’s next

Finally healed up after two riding injuries (yep they still happen. He took a several month break after dislocating his shoulder), Ricky did something that always impresses me whenever I hear of a wheeler doing it – completing an Ironman triathlon. He went to Lake Placid, NY on July 20th to complete in his second (yup second) Ironman triathlon.

His first Ironman was in 2008 in Kona, Hawaii. Ironman triathlons are insane acts of endurance, requiring entrants to run/push a marathon (26.4 miles), swim 2.4 miles and bicycle/hand-bicycle 112 miles. Ricky is rocking his still-there abilities to their core.

As a representative for Life Rolls On, racing any way he can still get it (including NASCAR trucks) and living the beautiful life in Oceanside, Cali (a tad jealous of that one), at 23, Ricky has made his way through the wilderness of his youth in a beautifully refined piece (I‘m sure to many people‘s surprise). He just refuses to quit, and I, and the motocross world, love him for it.

Watch the videos!

NBC Sports profiles Ricky James (great interview with his parents, beautiful clip)
Fun interview with Ricky James (with an Aussie reporter) about Ironman (and see his multiple leg tattoos)
Ricky James talks about his accident and how he can still ride (from Transworldmx)
Cool clip of Ricky James in a PSA from Life Rolls On