My name is Tony Rios. I am a Dallas native, Air Force Veteran and a 4th° black belt. I have been teaching martial arts on a full-time basis since 2006. In 2008 I taught my first client with special needs and by 2012 I realized that my work with special needs clients had become my passion. While I still wanted to teach martial arts to mainstream clients, I felt a strong desire to develop an adaptive martial arts program for the special needs community.
In 2013 I designed and began to offer an adaptive program to clients. By the end of that same year I had a small special needs student base and was able to obtain approval from a branch of the YMCA to teach my adaptive program in their facility. By 2015, MMA had 21 mainstream and 5 students with special needs and had outgrown the shared space. During that same time I modified my adaptive program to include general fitness as well as martial arts.
In 2016 MMA moved to a dedicated space with one large training floor and, as of April 2017, we have grown into a school of over 70 students 50% of whom are children or adults with special needs. This past spring, I was awarded The Ryan Albers Lifetime Achievement Award by Connecting Point of Park Cities. This award is given to an individual who positively impacts the special needs community.
MMA is now the official training spot for Highland Park High School’s special needs transition class. MMA has been approached by other school districts to provide the same type of program they are providing to Highland Park. We receive daily enrollment requests from new mainstream and special needs clients. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space or staff to accommodate all of the demand.
• Larger space with multiple training floors
• Additional instructors
• Additional equipment
We will officially launch this Go-Fund Me campaign on May 5th. We will also have a live-streamed “Punch/Kick –A-Thon” on May 20th, 2017 from 9 am to 12 pm at the current My Martial Arts location. All students, mainstream and special needs, current and future, are welcome to participate in a contest to see how many kicks (and/or punches) they can throw in 45 seconds. Individuals, families and businesses are welcome to sponsor a participant or make a flat contribution.
The goal is to make My Martial Arts a platform for children and adults with special needs to show the world what they are capable of doing and put a silence to any stereotyping. All contributions will go towards making this goal a reality.
I thank you in advance for supporting My Martial Arts.