Self Defence for ASD (Autism, Aspergers, etc)

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Self Defence for ASD (Autism, Aspergers, etc)

Specially customized self defence training for children, teens and adults with ASD 

Our fully qualified Instructors have experience in teaching people that have been diagnosed with ADHD, Autism Spectrum/Asperger’s Disorder as well as commonly associated, specific learning and/or neurological disorders.

The versatility of Arakan Martial Art makes it easily adaptable to to people with various abilities and needs. In addition to the obvious benefits of increasing fitness and resilience, Arakan Martial Art can assist with emotional regulation, anger management, stress relief and social skills development.

We specialise in Private Training. Each lesson is customised to the students circumstances, skill and fitness level, as well as their confidence levels and desired goals. Their individual ability, experience and energy levels at any given lesson, is taken into consideration to maximize the benefits.


Neuroplasticity (also known as brain plasticity or brain malleability) is the brains ability to reorganise itself. New research shows this phenomenon continues throughout our adult life.

This is especially exciting when one part of the brain has been affected by injury or disease, then the other part of the brain develops new neural pathways to take over the function. The brain reorganises and develops new neural pathways. The brain is able to reorganise to compensate for new situations or changes to the environment.

Neuroplasticity can also be beneficial to both physical and functional aspects of your brain and may be reorganised throughout life due to your environment, behaviour, thinking and emotions. Our brain is extremely resilient; not only does it reorganise itself after injury or being severed, enabling one to recover from a stroke, learning disabilities and other brain deficits. It allows us to learn a new musical instrument or a different language and overcome depression, addictions and reverse obsessive compulsive patterns. (There are some amazing stories and research you can read in the links below).

Dr. Michael Merzenich, a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research and co-founder of Posit Science, says: “there are steps people can take to tap into plasticity and reinvigorate that machinery,’ explains Merzenich. These circumstances include focused attention, determination, hard work and maintaining overall brain health.”

Here are some principles required that may to help reorganise your brain:

  • Being switched on. By being ‘switched-on’, alert, focussed and ready for action, the brain turns on neurochemicals necessary to reorganise the brain.
  • Intense focus. If you are intensely focussing on a task, with full undivided attention, the greater the change or reorganisation to your brain.
  • Practice. The more you practice something, the stronger these connections develop and the greater the experience of change.
  • Continuous flow. This enables your brain to know what comes next. By strengthening your connections, your brain is able to work seamlessly and not in fragmented pieces
  • Visualisation. It is just as important to rehearse from memory as it is to make physical changes.
  • Memory guides. When practicing a new skill, your brain reorganising and remembers the good attempts and discards the not-so-good attempts. It is therefore important not to focus on the one attempt that was not so good (as this reinforces poor attempts) and focus on the good attempts.
  • Reducing the ‘noise’. Every time you practice a new skill, in attempting to reorganise your brain, you brain reduces the ‘noise’; the irrelevant patterns that occur at the same time. As you strengthen new pathways, you naturally weaken old pathways.
  • Neuroplasticity goes both ways. It is important to remember these changes go both ways. It is just as easy to reorganise your brain to reinforcing or reorganising positive changes or negative patterns.

Initial changes are temporary however. Your brain determines whether what you are learning is to become a permanent change or not. This is why continual learning is important. It reinforces to the brain that the new behaviour is to be programmed and your brain reorganises to make this change.

Studies have also shown that resistance exercise also contributed to neuroplasticity and beneficial in reorganising the brain.

Arakan Martial Art® uses a systematic approach to learning. It follows the above neuroplasticity principles in reorganising your brain and does so positively. One must first be ‘switched on’, ready to learn. We give our undivided attention to the moment and have intense focus on what we are about to learn. Each lesson is structured to be experiential or ‘hands-on’ so that you get to practice the new skill set and technique. We practice, practice and practice the new skill set to recreate the new neural pathway.

Arakan Martial Art® is unique in its ability to flow, continuous movements from one to the other, becoming incredibly adaptable yet unpredictable when protecting ourselves on the street. We use visualisation when practicing our skills set and reinforce good behaviour. Each time we practice the new skill set or technique, we are reorganising a positive pattern, discarding what no longer serves.

Whether you are reorganising your brain positively or negatively, the effort is the same. So it may be best to focus your intention and energy into reorganising your brain in positive ways, rather than reinforcing negative patterns. Training Arakan Martial Art® may help your body and mind to become more adaptable, flexible and agile.

We are here to guide, coach, mentor and teach you Arakan Martial Art®. It is more than just learning kicking and striking, it goes beyond the physical. Our members gain greater focus, empowerment, discipline, self-awareness as well as learning self-protection techniques. Attributes which translate into other areas of our members lives.

Brain function by Dr Andrew Bartlett

Dr Andrew has been an Arakan member of over 15 years and is a Dr in chiropractic with a special interest in the brain and in clinical neuroscience.

Dr Andrew shares his beliefs on the many benefits of training Arakan and how it improves focus, discipline, fitness and wellbeing and is good for helping us live happier and more confident lives.

When Jack started at Arakan as a six year old, he had not long been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Jack's ability to socialise with his peers was significantly compromised and with rudimentary verbal communication Jack would spend most of his time on the group fringe mirroring the group play behaviour as his attempt at communication. His low muscle tone meant basic tasks requiring Fine Motor Skills like holding pencils was difficult for him and his Gross Motor such as co-ordination, skipping, hopping, etc was also significantly under-developed. Crossing the mid-line continued to be out of reach.

When a friend recommended we try Arakan, we signed Jack up to 1:1 classes. The gentle and fun approach was an invitation to Jack to play which he did wholeheartedly and with some nervousness on our part 3 weeks later, Jack was introduced to Nathan Hinga and his Junior Group Class. Nathan, the man and Arakan the martial art have had a significant impact on Jack's continued development and recovery from Autism. Four years on we regard Jack's weekly Arakan class as part of Jack's recovery program contributing to improvements in his Physical, Social & Psychological health.

The Arakan community practices true acceptance. Like every student he turns up to train, progresses at his own pace, and his Arakan journey is honored. On this journey he has improved his gross motor skills, learned discipline, focus and importantly, Jack has developed a self confidence and resilience that now sees him running with the group and participating socially with his peers.

It is in no small measure, and with gratitude that we regard Arakan as an important part of Jack's continued progress.

Katrina & Phil
Jack’s Parents

At a very young age our son Sam was diagnosed with Autism and Advanced ADHD. This presented and continues to present itself in a number of challenges but the most obvious are the inability to sit still and focus in school or to cope with challenges that put him outside his comfort level.

Sam started doing Arakan when he was 4 and we have seen massive benefits that it has given him over the past several years. One of the main things Arakan has taught him is how to put his mind into a state of being 'switched on'.

When he was younger, he used to have uncontrolable meltdowns that would last several hours but now we are able to prompt him to 'switch on' and he is able to change his state of mind, calm himself down and pull himself out of a meltdown which is a tremendous skill for someone with Autism to have.

Arakan has also helped in so many other ways such as his confidence, better socialisation by being able to recognise social queues, physical fitness and co-ordination. I find that even when Sam is having a tough week as school, within a couple of minutes of his Arakan lessons, his face is relaxed, he has a big smile and all his worries go away while he trains.

I highly recommend Arakan Martial Art to any parent of a child with special needs.. it adds so much to their quality of life!

Dave, father of Sam

My name is Kyle and I love training in Arakan because it has many benefits for my mental and physical health. I have a condition called ASD which is Autism Spectrum Disorder /Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and Anxiety. I am on a couple of different medications and I have been through hardships with my mental health, plenty of meltdowns and I had a physical accident coming off my mountain bike and fracturing my jaw each side.

The reason why I started Martial Arts is because I got bored of just going to the gym and just lifting weights. I also needed something that I can learn to protect myself, boost my confidence, and have a higher purpose.

What Arakan does is make me less socially awkward, more flexible, more fit, athletic, present in the moment and how to defend myself. I train 3 x times a week: two private lessons and one group lesson.

I have also attended seminars with Master Robert Kyaw which has been amazing. I get to meet a lot of people from the Arakan Team and they are all amazing. My instructors are Bennett Stone and Jamie Thorne.

I would like to thank the whole Arakan team for all your support, motivation, and good energy.

Kyle Wagner, Student Since 2019

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New training options available via Skype, Zoom and Facetime

When ‘life happens’, it is an opportunity to rise up and show our strength and courage. With the recent pandemic hitting our shores, it meant some changes needed to happen with training, whilst conforming with the strict government regulations and hygiene protocols.

With our wellbeing and health being highlighted and taking precedence in most people’s lives, we felt it more important than ever before to help keep our members training. Numerous studies have shown that physical activity is linked to boosting our immune system as well as maintain physical and mental wellbeing.



Mental Wellbeing and Support During the Global Pandemic

As global citizens, we have all been adversely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This might just be to our day-to-day socio-occupational routines and training regimes but most likely than not, it has affected our sense of security and certainty about the future to some extent. For some, it can be hard not to worry what the Pandemic and its socio-economic impacts can mean for ourselves, our families, friends and communities.