TV star heads to Buxton to join fight to help ex-servicemen

Disability martial arts campaigner David Lee demonstrates how to fend off an attack from Charles Spring.
Disability martial arts campaigner David Lee demonstrates how to fend off an attack from Charles Spring.

Disability campaigner and TV star Mik Scarlett is heading to Buxton to host the launch of a new charity which uses a special martial arts system to help ex-servicemen injured in the line of duty keep fit.

Mik, who hosted the BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 TV kids show Beat That, will visit the town on October 15 and 16 when the inclusive martial arts style designed for people of all abilities is unveiled as part of two days of sporting events - including an expert taking on 100 fighters one after another.

Disability campaigner and TV star Mik Scarlett

Disability campaigner and TV star Mik Scarlett

Based on the Wounded Warrior scheme used in rehabilitation for injured members of the US Forces, Britannia Hero Inclusive Martial Arts has been developed by the UK’s Disability Martial Arts Association (DMAA).

The Britannia Hero system was designed by Dave Lee of the DMAA, who was inspired by Beat That to take up sport after a car accident confined him to a wheelchair in the 1990s.

Martial arts is recognised as a way to boost self-esteem and physical fitness during rehabilitation, and Britannia Hero is designed so that anyone – no matter what their physical, emotional or mental abilities – can compete against each other, and is not restricted to ex-service people.

“I can’t wait to compere the event,” said Mik, who took part in the 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.

“Two days of exciting sport that proves just what disabled people can do will be amazing. I might even give it a go myself, although I know how skilled all taking part are so I hope they’ll be gentle with me!”

Centre-piece of the launch will be a 100-person fight led by University of Derby martial artist Charles Spring, who is recruiting a team for this exceptional challenge.

The fighting marathon is a Karate tradition called the 100-Man Kumite, or “Grappling Hands”.

He estimates that there are only 600 people in the world who can tackle the 100 Man Kumite in its original form, although the Buxton event will be tailored so people of all abilities can take part. Even so, it will take more than three hours non-stop to complete.

“It’s an incredibly hard feat,” said Charles, who works with students on the university’s ground-breaking BSc (Hons) in Wellness Management course, which trains the managers of the future in this £3.4 trillion global industry covering business, management, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, physical activity, coaching and mentoring.

“We are looking at working with people with disabilities more and more as part of our remit,” he said.

“Raising money by doing something this difficult shows what people with disabilities are able to do. That creates more inclusivity which in turns creates more wellness.”

The event will also feature the DMAA’s Silver Dragon martial arts programme, which teaches the over-60s how to use a walking stick for defence – although its main aim is to provide an easy and interesting cardiovascular workout.