chvnradio.com

Now Playing What just played?

THE COLOR

ONE SURE THING

Listen Live

18 years ago, Veronika Kanya completely lost her eyesight.

Now, the 43-year-old former biologist is midway through acquiring her orange belt in jiu-jitsu.

This is not Kanya’s first experience with martial arts. She originally became interested from a young age when one of her friends introduced her to Bruce Lee movies. When she lost part of her eyesight at 23, she recalled watching those movies and decided to take a kickboxing workshop at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

“I liked kickboxing but then lost the rest of my eyesight when I was 25 so I switched to Aikido, which I trained in on and off for about 10 years,” Kanya said. “I tried some other things, but last year it really occurred to me that I wanted to get some really effective and practical self-defence training.”

Kanya talked to a few self-defence instructors but was turned away. Eventually she found her class with Sensei Kevin Kummerfield at Bissett Jiu-Jitsu Den Winnipeg.

“Other places said ‘you won’t see the punches coming in’ but then I found this place and it’s the perfect match,” Kanya said. “It’s actually meant for someone without sight. Jiu-jitsu is really about feel. You move in with your hips and you feel the other person. Once you feel where they are you can react without having to see.”

 

 

Kummerfield was shocked when Kanya told him she was turned away from other classes.

“That really bothered me,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student turned away. So we said ‘let’s figure it out together’ and moved forward.”

Kummerfield says Kanya is progressing and working with her has expanded his knowledge of how to train people in jiu-jitsu and modify techniques for students with specific needs.

“I’ve never worked with anybody with sight loss before so I was really excited for the challenge,” Kummerfield said. “It’s helped me as an instructor to think outside the box.”

“Most of the techniques didn’t require any modification because jiu-jitsu is close-quarters. Some things like striking offered a bit of a challenge, so we’ve been working on ways for her to increase awareness and using soft pads to strike at her so she’s used to receiving blows. That way she can learn to move to deflect those and mitigate the damage.”

Kummerfield says Kanya's drive and willingness to learn inspires him.

“She’s still getting out there and doing these things every day and finding the martial arts training for her. She didn’t take no for an answer.”

“She really is a fighter. She didn’t need martial arts for that.”

Kummerfield and Kanya recently conducted a self-defence seminar for clients at CNIB.

One of the main aspects of Kummerfield’s class that drew Kanya to it is a focus on is de-escalation of conflicts as opposed to physical confrontation.

“We’re trained to walk away and avoid conflict as long as we can,” Kanya said. “It goes deeper than just physical violence. I have options and I can rely on my skills if it ever comes to it.”

Kanya has been training for about five months and has acquired her yellow belt.

She has no plans on stopping any time soon.

“I am just really having fun learning it,” Kanya continued. “I can throw someone bigger than me and it boosts my confidence that I’m not helpless in any given situation.”

“Sensei Kevin always likes to say this is a life-skill, not just a martial art and that’s true.”

Free movies with a side of fresh air

Grab a blanket and pop some popcorn, because outdoor movies are returning to Winnipeg…

RWB's Ballet in the Park returns for 48th year

Members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) are once-again inviting Winnipeggers to…

City Council votes to support Main Street Project redevelopment

Winnipeg City Council voted to support Main Street Project's redevelopment project, which…

Mosquito count low but warm weather ideal for West Nile carrier

While mosquito counts remain low in many southern Manitoba communities, the warm…

Job fair giving Canadian newcomers skills and opportunities

Newcomers to Winnipeg had a chance today to gain a foothold in the Canadian workforce.

Two men facing drug possession charges after one of them slams into police cruiser

Two men are facing charges after Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) officers made an odd drug…

Winnipeg voices joining new worship project

Canadian artist Jeremy Benjamin is travelling across Canada gathering voices for a unique…

Smoke from wildfires could affect air quality tonight

It smells a bit smokey in Winnipeg, but that doesn't necessarily mean there should be…

Updated: 5 people make daring escape from house fire

Five people are fortunate to be alive this morning after jumping to safety from an early…

Free weekend access to Manitoba parks

Getting into a provincial park this weekend will cost you a little less.

Local church ministering across borders

For two weeks, a Winnipeg church is letting their lights shine through a youth missions…

What's killing the birds in southern Manitoba?

Concerns are being raised over the number of dead birds showing up this summer in…

Severe thunderstorm warning ended in Winnipeg

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has ended the severe thunderstorm warning…

Weekend family fun: Manitoba's Passion Play highlights weekend

The Manitoba Passion Play is back and is highlighting the list of great events this…

Bump to defence spending could help smooth US/Canada relations, says MB MP

In the midst of a trade war between Canada and the United States, the Member of…

Province announces funding for community projects

The province is shelling out $848,000 in funding for 120 projects in various Manitoba…

Manitoba couple's proposal goes viral

A newly-engaged couple's flash mob proposal video has gone viral, thanks to some dancing…

Inner-city youth given hands-on science experience

140 students from inner-city Winnipeg and northern Manitoba had a chance to learn about…

Manitoba RCMP looking for missing woman

Manitoba RCMP is asking for the public's help in locating a missing woman from the…

The story of the church in the middle of the highway

On Highway 75, between Morris and Ste. Agathe, sits a small, simple building that splits…