Shihan Donna Judge (8th Dan Shuri Ryu) of Suncoast Karate Dojo, became enthralled by one man’s quest to train Karate despite the fact that he is confined to his wheelchair due to Cerebral Palsy. Shihan Judge received a call form the 38-year old Arkansas man, Jason Sasser, and was instantly captivated by his compelling story of perseverance in pursuing his life-long dream of training Martial Arts. Jason had been turned away by one instructor after another, each one of them claiming that he was just too disabled to ever learn Karate.
Relentless in his quest, Jason contacted Shihan Judge, who finally listened to him in a way that no other Karate instructor had. Judge knew she would have to make the trip and meet this man. She asked one of her black belts, Linda Cleary, to accompany her and the two drove to Arkansas. As Jason welcomed them in his front yard in his wheel chair, his genuine energy touched both women’s hearts. They trained for several hours and Judge taught Jason some of the basic movements. Before returning home, she agreed to periodically send him videotapes with more of his white belt requirements.
After several months of exchanging video tapes and many phone conversations, Judge began to notice how beneficial the karate training was becoming for Jason. He was developing strength and skills he had never had before in his one hand and arm that he was able to use.
His self confidence, self-reliance and mental toughness were growing and he was finding it easier to deal with the many challenges a person bound to a wheelchair encounters every day. Jason’s newfound capabilities inspired Judge to make Martial Arts training available to other people with disabilities. She wanted people to think “Ability First, Disability Second” and out of that credo, Handi-Capable Karate was born.