Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled
Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled

Highest grade in the world for Roisin Pitman

Roisin Pitman "The praise should also be directed at my students"

Jersey martial artist Roisin Pitman has been promoted to what is believed to be the highest grade currently held by a traditional aikido exponent with a disability in the world.


Roisin, who has studied martial arts since 1980 and has taught since 1987, has just been awarded 6th Dan in Traditional Aikido by Master Yasuhisa Shioda of the Shioda International Aikido Federation in Japan. 


This accolade comes despite Roisin suffering from a debilitating condition Stickler's Syndrome, that renders her partially sighted with chronic arthritis.


And she is adament that this huge honour is not down to her alone. "It was a great honour to be recognised by such an illustrious teacher as Shioda Sensei," she said. "However, the praise should also be directed at my students who have made me who I am today."


"Shioda saw something in me that he liked and I am extremely humbled that thirty-five years study of aikido has been marked in this way. It shows that despite having a disability, you can achieve anything that you set your mind to."


Ever since Roisin lost her sight in 1990 she has strived to maintain a level of fitness, both mentally and physically, to help fight the incurable condition that blights her life and the main 'life saver' has been the study and dissemination of aikido to students in her own school in Jersey as well as clubs throughout Europe.


As the Director of Disability Martial Arts in the JSAD, Roisin has opened her doors to anyone who is able bodied or disabled, to enjoy the uplifting and empowering feelings one enjoys practising traditional aikido.


In 2006 Roisin welcomed to the school her first disabled student, Tyrone Nicholson, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, and for whom aikido has become a way of life. In 2011 he became the first quadriplegic aikido black belt in Europe, having successfully passed his examination under independent overseas assessors.


In recognition of her achievements, Roisin received a rare "Special Merit Award" at the 2015 JSAD Awards night, and a year later in the 2016 event, she was voted Coach of the Year.  

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