Occasionally, martial arts teachers will receive inquiries from blind people wanting to become students. Some teachers reject these requests out of hand. This is unfortunate, because there are actually stories throughout history of how blind warriors have been able to defend themselves. There are many progressive martial arts academies, such as Fredericksburg Martial Arts, that welcome students with all sorts of physical challenges, and the blind deserve the same consideration as any other student.
There is a Japanese folk hero named Zatoichi who traveled ancient Japan seeking work as a masseuse, the traditional job of the blind back then. Zatoichi is famed for carrying (and using) a saber in his walking stick. He was apparently quite adept at swordsmanship. The TV series Kung Fu revived the story of the blind warrior through the Shaolin monk Master Po. Movies like Blind Fury and comic books like Daredevil have also told stories of the blind hero who was skilled in the martial arts. And who can forget when Master Luke learned to use his light sabre with the helmet blast shield down?
Today, some martial arts schools teach advanced students to fight while blindfolded. In China, it is common for masters to perform hazardous stunts while blindfolded. In both cases, the development of secondary senses is highlighted. However, it is hard to find statistics on the number of blind martial arts students. There is some disagreement within the scientific community as to whether blind persons actually develop other senses to a higher degree than the sighted. Yet, there is no reason to assume that blind students wouldn’t become more confident and physically adept by taking martial arts classes.
There is also the fact that once a blind person is in physical contact with an aggressor, they can learn to defend themselves by grasping their opponent and not letting go. In this way, a blind person can deliver kicks and chops without depending on sight. It is even harder to find statistics on blind martial arts students being attacked, so once again the question is up in the air. But for anyone, sighted or blind, seeking strength, coordination balance and sensory awareness, martial arts training is certainly a viable option and should be taken seriously. Martial arts training is economical and can be customized for each student. The valuable benefits of training should be open to all, no matter what their physical challenges.