• Lauren Mitchell

Self-defense course offered to the physically disabled


An adapted self-defense course is being offered to people with Multiple Sclerosis through the West Island MS Self-Help Group with instructor George Manoli (right) offering to extend the duration and location of the course depending on interest.

A self-defense course in the West Island is catering to the vulnerable population by offering them a specialized class. For an hour and a half course, those who are suffering with the condition can learn how to protect themselves via their instructor George Manoli, a police officer who specializes in self-defence.

“The West Island MS self-help Group contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a course with their members,” Manoli told Your Local Journal. “I said I would definitely love to do that, to try it out with them. We adjust to all needs of our participants, and try to cater the course to them. Whatever limitations they have, we want to make sure that they are able to participate in the course just the same as others would be able to.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It attacks the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. It can cause issues with vision, balance, and muscle control; however symptoms vary from patient to patient. Not everyone who has MS will end up in a wheelchair, contrary to many patients’ beliefs, as everyone experiences different progressions of the disease. It is even possible to go into remission.

“I didn't know much about the disease before, and I've learned a lot about it after teaching these courses,” said Manoli. “It is a fast-progressing disease, and you see all types of problems. I have seen people come in with canes, in wheelchairs, people with partial loss of their leg.”

Enrollment is now full with the last self-defence class being held Monday, July 17, 1 p.m. Classes will start again if there is enough interest from the population and Manoli said he’d be interested in expanding his courses to further west of the island if there is enough demand.

“Organizations like schools and community centres contact me and ask me if I can come to their building and do a class,” said Manoli. “I have gone all across Quebec giving classes to different populations, and I am willing to go anywhere where people need my services. I'm a full-time police officer, but I make sure to take time out to offer these courses to whoever needs them.”

Manoli makes sure each member of the group is always participating in the class, and is never left bored. The classes are set up so that each person gets to engage in an attacker simulation, and gets to practice with an instructor.

“We are a one-to-eight ratio, which means there is one instructor per eight clients. If there are more clients, we get more instructors to come in. The price is based on many factors; limitations of the clients, length of the courses, and estimated time of the program. For example, a three-hour introductory course would cost about $55 per person. We go through a lot of topics and act through demonstrations, and they all depend on the clientele. The course cost will be more expensive depending on the length – for example if the organization who booked us wants the course to stretch out over a longer period of time, like a one and a half-hour course expanding over six weeks. It all depends on what the organization is asking for.”

To learn more about George Maloni's program and services offered, please refer to his website at www.manoli.ca.