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CVI was a pioneering organization when founded 50 years ago. At the time, rehabilitation services for people with vision loss were just beginning to be developed in a systematic way. The growth of CVI over the years represents more than an expansion of service... more.
Kerry Kollmar is a self-defense instructor who teaches classes at CVI.
Creation of Safe without Sight
Submitted by Kerry Kollmar, Self-Defense Instructor
Kerry Kollmar Photo
Recognizing this as a problem, skilled self-defense instructor Kerry Kollmar and his company, Martial Hearts, Inc., is trying to remedy the situation.
Author of "Safe Without Sight," Kollmar routinely teaches groups of visually impaired men and women self-defense tactics. He teaches his students to first find what he calls "the universal reference point" by having them grab the left shoulder of a practice dummy. By doing that, he says, an individual can find out how tall the attacker is and where their eyes are, giving them the ability to successfully fight back if need be. With muggings and home invasions becoming more prevalent in the Atlanta area, the local Center for the Visually Impaired decided to bring back the two week course for those interested in taking it. The Vice President of Programs at the center strongly believes in the program. "After the course," he says, "they feel confident that can deal with whatever happens." Before the course is over, each student is put to the test, as their instructor, Kollmar, puts on a padded suit and sees if they can apply what they've learned. Since he is adequately protected, he encourages them to hit as hard as they would if they were attacked in the real world so that they can get a clear sense of what their abilities are. One student remarked, "Your adrenaline gets pumping. It's a good feeling. Yes, I guess I do feel empowered." As Kollmar takes hit after hit from his determined students, he never lacks a sense of humor. A well place shot to the groin may illicit silence from students who are unsure about his condition.
Kerry Kollmar from Martial Hearts, Inc. is a world-renowned self-defense instructor and author of "Safe Without Sight".
"If you can find the universal reference point, right here," Kollmar said, grabbing the left shoulder of Bob the dummy. "The purpose of smashing a guy as hard as you can and kneeing him in the groin is to give them a real world sense of what their abilities are," Kollmar explains. Again and again, the class breaks into cheers and giggles after Kollmar takes a hit. After one particularly well-aimed kick to the groin, the room went silent and Kollmar said in a high-pitched voice, "It's not a problem. "If you like that kind of thing, it was a great experience," Kollmar said with an ironic grin. LaDavid Mahaffey uses new self-defense skills to fight off Martial Hearts owner, Kerry Kollmar.
As the manager of a karate school in Roswell, Georgia in 1989, Kerry Kollmar got a phone call one day that changed his life.The distraught mother on the other end of the line expressed to Kerry the frustration she was feeling over not being able to find a karate school that was willing to teach karate to a group of junior high school children with disabilities, including her son who had Down's Syndrome.It just so happened that Kerry was looking for a volunteer opportunity at the time and had a long history of working with people with disabilities. Kerry began with a 10-session, experimental karate course at the junior high school, which proved to be more than just fun for the kids.It seemed that karate was a tremendously beneficial, virtually therapeutic activity for them.Their hand/eye coordination improved, their muscle tone increased and, more than anything, their self-esteem shot through the roof.So, Kerry took on another class and another, and on and on. One night while cooking dinner in his kitchen, without any conscious wondering or searching, the words "Martial Hearts" blew into Kerry's head.Those words seemed to fit, to a "T", the work he was doing with disabled kids.Shortly thereafter, Kerry left his job at the studio to form his own company and started teaching martial arts full-time. Not long after that, Kerry started noticing that more than a few women were approaching him, wanting to learn "self-defense".Being male and not knowing any better, his response was usually to suggest that they sign up for martial arts classes, assuming that would satisfy them.It didn't.As it turned out, most women were not at all interested in studying the martial arts for a number of years in order to feel safer in their lives. But they sure were interested in feeling safer in their lives.So, Kerry and his wife, Maureen, did several months of research into two main areas: 1) the distinction between traditional physical techniques taught in martial arts systems and simple, basic self-defense techniques and 2) the issue of "violence against women".In the first area, they found many easy-to-learn, powerful techniques that could be implemented without years of practice.And what they discovered in the researching of violence against women shocked and appalled them.It was then that Kerry understood what those women were looking for when they asked to be taught "self-defense". They set to work on creating what became The Women's Course: A Self-defense and Empowerment Seminar, hoping that, if they did it right, there would maybe be demand enough for four or five courses a year.When, in the 2nd week of January, 1992, after weeks of tireless efforts at enrolling women in the course, Kerry stood before the first group of only four women, his enthusiasm was, to say the least, tempered.Kerry KollmarKerry Kollmar is the President and founder of Martial Hearts, Inc., a Roswell, GA based self-defense organization committed to stopping violence against women and children.Named the 1998 Crime Prevention Practitioner of the Year by the GA Crime Prevention Association, Kollmar teaches his powerful seminars to schools, civic groups and corporations throughout the United States.He is self-defense consultant to both The Shepherd Center, teaching safety workshops for para- and quadriplegics as well as the Atlanta Center for the Visually Impaired, for whom he, Dr. Wendy David and Scott McCall created a powerful self-defense course for blind and visually impaired people called Safe Without Sight.A book of the same name, authored by Kollmar, David and McCall was released by National Braille Press in June of 1998.Kollmar is a certified rape crisis councilor and works with all five of the metro Atlanta Rape Crisis Centers as a volunteer and staff trainer, on their speakers bureaus and as a fundraising partner and event sponsor.He is also a black belt martial arts instructor.