VietNamNet Bridge – In a small room at Ho Xuan Huong sports house in HCM City, a 65-year-old female master patiently instructed each movement to a group of disabled children. Kids giggled whenever they made the move in the right way and were praised by the master.
Watching blind, hearing-impaired and Downs Syndrome children who can practice difficult movements like normal kids, Aikido master Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan was very happy. She said: “I’m very surprised when they have made great progress. When I opened this class, my goal was to help them have good health and joy in life. But now they can stand firmly on their feet and can perform Aikido very well.”
Practicing Aikido at very young age, master Thanh Loan became one of the two first Vietnamese women who achieved the Shodan level at the age of 20. She has taught Aikido to children for 44 years.
“My biggest joy is seeing my students be healthy, grown-up and useful to their families and society,” Loan said.
The martial arts club for the blind was set up in HCM City nearly ten years ago. Ms. Thanh Loan was the first Aikido instructor, in charge of 20 blind kids.
“I was very worried because I had never instructed Aikido for blind people. Now many of them have achieved the brown belt,” she said.
The disabled kids cannot study as quickly as normal kids so instructor Loan had to repeat her lessons many times. She even had to compose songs to describe difficult movements.
Having worked with disabled children for many years, master Thanh Loan understands them very much. She always encourages them by sweet words and combines Aikido lessons with lessons about life.
Ha Thanh, 21, a Downs Syndrome patient, can play guitar, sing very well and has a passion for Aikido. Thanh’s mother said that since she joined the Aikido class, she has become very agile, jolly and says hello and goodbye to her mother whenever she leaves or arrives home.
“She told me that she was very happy to go to the Aikido class because she has many friends there. Whenever she has good food, she brings it to the class to share with classmates,” her mother said.
Master Thanh Loan not only opens free classes for disabled kids but also works with charity houses to hire buses to carry disabled kids to her classes.
She said that her greatest wish is to open more Aikido classes where disabled and homeless kids can also learn reading, writing and living skills.
“In this life, if each of us can contribute a smile the world would be relieved from desolation. I’m happy to see my students be joyful, enjoy life and confidently integrate into the community,” she said.