Tag Archives: NOT-ME.org

SCI Superstar: Erik Kondo


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

What’s next?

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?

Erik Kondo’s self-defense site NOT-ME

Watch the videos!

Erik Kondo demonstrates training for basic chokes and holds

Erik Kondo showing a new paraplegic how to get up a stairs in a manual chair

7 signs of a wheelchair pretender from Erik Kondo

Erik Kondo shows the safe way to fall out of a wheelchair

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, NOT-ME.org, 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