Back in September, we first introduced our Athlete Spotlight, Brandon Ryan. Brandon is an adaptive CrossFit and martial arts competitor who has Cerebral Palsy. But that has not stopped him from facing his challenges and adventures head-on. Brandon runs an organization called Adaptive Defense Methods and teaches martial arts and self-defense tactics to people with adaptive needs. We caught up with him recently to see how everything has been progressing lately.
We’ve been following along with Adaptive Defense Methods and the videos you put out. How is that going lately?
It’s going really well. We’re growing leaps and bounds honestly. We’re doing a lot of really cool seminars locally here (Omaha, NE), working with a few fitness gyms. Our main goal is to work with adaptive athletes and the more we branch out we find that able-bodied people want to work with us. What we’re learning now is that people have adaptive needs that are unseen whether it be an oxygen or breathing issue where we need to adapt to limited endurance.
One of the things you said when we last spoke which fits right along with that is, ‘Because We Are All Adaptive.’ What does that mean to you and how has it helped you recently?
I don’t know how exactly I came up with the slogan, but when myself and my partner said it out loud we were like wow that really sticks and it has a really cool ring to it. And it rang true across the board in every area that we’ve done work in whether it be with adaptive athletes or with able-bodied people that have things you can’t see from the physical aspect. And that’s why a lot of people have been so attracted to us because they have these unseen elements of their life that only certain people can deal with right now.
I think it definitely makes sense, because anyone looking for a coach will always have some need they are looking to fill whether it would be an adaptation or a new way of looking at a move. So that’s really cool that you guys have fit into that so well. What’s an example of one of the seminar’s you guys have done recently?
We have been working with some CrossFit-type facilities one being a company called TC Strength and Conditioning. We walk in there and we basically got to work with the owner of the gym who welcomed us with open arms and helped us out. We quickly realized that we have an appeal that we can’t even begin to cover up. What I mean is that we’re not really asking to work with able-bodied people, they’re coming to us. And it’s cool to see people in the fitness world say ‘okay I need to learn how to take care of myself, beyond lifting weights.’
That’s awesome to hear. With events like this do you usually see a mix of able-bodied and adaptive athletes?
That’s a difficult question because we’re generally so broad and inclusive so it depends on the event. One seminar we did prior to that with retired and active military servicemen through a nonprofit called Team Red, White, & Blue. They basically help veterans transfer from military life to civilian life and that is very important to us. One woman who we were prepared to work with but unfortunately did not make it walks with a cane. So we were already thinking about how to help her use the cane as a self-defense mechanism and to her advantage.
Anything exciting coming up for Adaptive Defense Methods?
Coming up we are doing another event with the same gym I mentioned (TC Strength and Conditioning) except it’s going to be a more inclusive event, meaning it will be open to the public. We really hope that it will expose people to simple self-defense that they can use, basically the day they learn it.
We are also looking at working with some other local colleges for women’s self-defense seminars. We are in contact with some other self-defense groups that want to do a combined event for an adaptive self-defense seminar. So it’s looking really good for us right now.
The ADCC recently featured two paraplegic athletes (Yves Carbinnatti and Eduardo Mangaravite) in an adaptive grappling event. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it is amazing. I don’t know those athletes personally, but I know of them and I know that they are two of the hardest working competitors in grappling. They are always giving it their all in training and I think it’s just so, so amazing.
And how has your martial arts training been progressing lately?
It’s been going well. I haven’t been able to train as much as I want to because of the job hunt. But when I do train it’s always a very fruitful time and I am learning a lot. I’m going to have to change up my hours because of my job being in the evenings and I will still be able to train in the mornings before work. So that’s going very well. Along with Adaptive Defense Methods, I would like to create my own adaptive grappling tournament that isn’t based on so much of a point system and just on the submission aspect.
I think that would definitely be an awesome event. How about your CrossFit training recently and how does that complement your martial arts training?
CrossFit is a constant mode of evolution for me. I’m constantly evolving and getting stronger and finding new things that my body could never do before. I’m still recovering very well for being 32. I really, really want to compete at a high level with CrossFit. Whether that starts off competing against other adaptive athletes or going into tournaments as the only adaptive athlete and doing the best I can. I don’t really like how adaptive CrossFit events are run currently because they only have standing and seated division and they do not accommodate people who do Olympic lifting kneeling.
There does not appear to be a kneeling division which would be adapted to me, but it is cool how WheelWod will be adapting the CrossFit Open as the workouts become announced allowing adaptive athletes to compete side by side with able-bodied competitors.
You can read the original article with Brandon Ryan here. Follow along with Adaptive Defense Methods and check out their shop to support their work! Huge thanks to Brandon Ryan and Adaptive Defense Methods for answering our questions and supporting Athletes Roll!