No one likes to feel vulnerable, but when you experience life as a person with a spinal cord injury, that’s one of the number one feelings that overwhelms you. Erik Kondo however refused to feel this way. A T4-5 paraplegic from Lexington, Massachusetts, Erik decided to combat this feeling by learning self-defense skills through martial arts, and he is now one of the most talented martial artists with a disability in the world and is now a 3rd degree black belt.
From applying his self-defense knowledge to help to protect women with disabilities online to showing newly injured people how to be independent, read on to learn about the fearless SCI superstar who’s using his talents to help others, Erik Kondo.
Why he’s fearless
Around 27 years ago is when Erik became a member of the disability community. He was 19 and on his motorcycle when it crashed, and broke his T4-5 vertebrae on impact. Getting injured at this age however is never easy, but Erik, now 48 years old with a wife and three kids, has harnessed his fighter personality like a pro.
When he was 30 years old, after working in real estate for a few years and business and doing a bit of handcycling and skiing, Erik decided to begin practicing martial arts, jujitsu to be specific, in which he now holds a third degree black belt. Erik may have full control of his upper body, but he still has balance problems since he is a T4 paraplegic, so watching him in action is really quite something.
He also has a great video channel on SPINALpedia where you can watch him practice jujitsu and perform a slew of other wheelchair tricks. To date he’s uploaded 40+ videos and they show either a self defense skill, a mobility skill or a workout skill. Eric is passionate about empowering other people with spinal cord injuries in any way shape or form. Such a great guy! Check out his videos
After he became good at jujitsu, self-defense came naturally. He’s went on to create a site devoted to self-defense called NOT-ME, which shows at-risk individuals what they need to do to really defend themselves if they’re in an altercation, and wheeler-user tips are part of it. He’s made several videos showing his moves while sitting down, it is really quite something to behold. Erik can totally take an able-bodied guy down to the ground; no questions asked. Watch him here
And his self-defense videos are just a smidge of what he offers via video. Erik has also made several videos showing his awesome “mobility” skills in an inaccessible world. From climbing up stairs to going down a hill by doing a wheelie to popping a curb, Erik has no fear and does his tricks seamlessly. Watch him show the best way to climb up stairs in a manual chair
And Erik’s amazing fighter personality has also found a new outlet – helping protect woman with disabilities online. Predators, devotees and lurkers have no chance against Erik, who made it his life’s mission to uncover these people who are known to prey on women with disabilities online. He even created a free online presentation instructing women how to prevent trolls/predators. Watch
Erik’s latest method to spread self-defense knowledge is by teaching self-defense classes whereevrr he can, from camps to seminars . This past spring he taught self-defense classes in Vermont VT. And he’s also a burgeoning writer. As a frequent flier a lot, he has a few travel tips a share and has been writing for wheelchairtraveling.com, penning the occasional wheelchair travel article. Read his article on luggage tips for wheelchair travel
And last but not least, he runs an incredibly cool stair climbing blog, which is as exactly as it sounds – tips galore on climbing stairs if you can’t walk. Check it out
After a spinal cord injury, it can be hard finding you’re niche in the world. What’s great about Erik is that he carved himself out a very specific niche, and has become an expert in his field. People with disabilities need their own personal superman, and Erik Kondo definitely comes close.
Has Erik Kondo helped you learn a life skill?
Watch the videos!