Vale wheelchair user gains black belt in Karate


24 February 2017 


A Vale of Glamorgan resident has overcome mobility issues to become the first female wheelchair user in Wales to achieve black belt status in Karate. 


Lisa "Maddy" Thomson becomes the first female wheelchair user in Wales to achieve black belt status


Lisa “Maddy” Thomson, of Dinas Powys, initially became interested in wheelchair Karate in 2012, when her diminishing mobility made it difficult for her to take part in other sports.

Maddy was one of the first to join a block of 10 Karate taster sessions being held at the New Horizons Day Centre in Barry. The sessions were organised by Linda Ruston, Day Service Officer at the Day Centre. The Centre supports adults with physical disabilities and is run by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Social Services Department.

The 10 sessions were attended by Maddy and 10 other participants, all of varying age and with different disabilities.

Maddy said: “I was initially looking for something to keep me active, as my Rheumatoid Arthritis had meant I was relying on my wheelchair to mobilise at all times, and had been unable to take part in the other sports I was interested in.”

She went from strength to strength, and found that, within the space of a few months, she had competed in competitions and had taken her first grading.

She progressed quickly through the different coloured belts and gradings, and finally achieved black belt status in December, 2016. 

Naturally, Maddy was extremely proud, saying: “I can remember my first competition being very nerve-racking, but, at the same time, it gave me a massive boost in confidence.

“This rise in confidence allowed me to participate in a number of competitions all over Wales and the UK – from Swansea and Merthyr to the north of England and Scotland – and to even conduct a Karate demonstration for the Army at an event in Aldershot for wounded service personnel.

“Following receiving the black belt, I have gone on to coach my first lesson at the day centre with a fellow day centre member, Adam, who demonstrated the kicks for me.

“My next goal is to improve my teaching skills so that I can go on to do more instructing in the future.”

Rob Green, Maddy’s current Sensei, has been thanked for raising the profile of disability Karate, and for opening everyone’s minds to the concept of ‘sport for all’.

He said of Maddy: “She is a true inspiration – not only to disability sport, but to women in general – and has, with great determination, overcome several obstacles to exceed her expectations. I am very proud of her.”

Maddy continues to train at the Day Centre and St Pats Academy, whilst four of her fellow participants at the original taster sessions still take part in Karate at the Day Centre. The sessions at the Day Centre are now also attended by nine clients with learning disabilities from Woodlands Day Service.