Self-Defence for ASD

Specially customised self-defence training for children, teens and adults with ASD 

Our fully-qualified instructors have experience teaching people diagnosed with ADHD, Autism Spectrum/Aspergers Disorder, as well as commonly associated specific learning and/or neurological disorders (scroll to the bottom to read some truly inspiring testimonials!).

The versatility of Arakan Martial Art® makes it easily adaptable to people with various abilities and needs. In addition to the obvious benefits of increasing fitness and resilience, Arakan Martial Art® can assist with emotional regulation, anger management, stress relief and social skills development.

Arakan Martial Art® instructors specialise in private training, where each lesson is customised to the student’s circumstances, skill and fitness level, as well as their confidence and desired goals. An individual’s ability, experience and energy levels during any given lesson, are taken into consideration to maximise the benefits. 

Read on below for how we work with Neuroplasticity and some testimonials from parents of children with ASD and how training Arakan has changed their lives...


Neuroplasticity (also known as brain plasticity or brain malleability) is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself, and new research shows this phenomenon continues throughout our adult life.

This is especially exciting when one part of the brain has been affected by injury or disease, and the other part of the brain develops new neural pathways to take over the function. Put simply, our brains are extremely resilient and adaptable, with the ability to reorganise and develop new neural pathways to better function in new situations or when there’s changes to our environment.

At Arakan Martial Art® we incorporate many of the principles required to reorganise our brains, into our training.

Dr. Michael Merzenich, a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research and co-founder of Posit Science, says “there are steps people can take to tap into plasticity and reinvigorate that machinery” and that “these circumstances include focused attention, determination, hard work and maintaining overall brain health”.

Here are some principles required that may help reorganise your brain:

  • Being switched on. By being alert, focussed and ready for action, the brain turns on neurochemicals necessary to reorganise the brain.
  • Intense focus. The more intensely focused you are on a task, the greater the change or reorganisation to your brain.
  • Practice. The more you practice something, the stronger these connections become and the greater the experience of change.
  • Continuous flow. This enables your brain to know what comes next. By strengthening your connections, your brain is able to work seamlessly and not in fragmented pieces.
  • Visualisation. It’s just as important to rehearse from memory as it is to make physical changes.
  • Memory guides. When practicing a new skill, your brain reorganises and remembers the good attempts and discards the not-so-good attempts. It is therefore important not to focus on the one attempt that was not so good (as this reinforces poor attempts) and focus on the good attempts instead.
  • Reducing the ‘noise’. Every time you practice a new skill, your brain reduces the ‘noise’ in your mind. As you strengthen new pathways, you naturally weaken old ones.
  • Neuroplasticity goes both ways. It is important to remember these changes go both ways. It’s just as easy to reorganise your brain to reinforce positive changes as it is to reinforce negative ones.

Initial changes in our brains are temporary at first. Our brains determine whether what we are learning is to become a permanent change or not, which is why continual learning is so important. It reinforces the new behaviour, and helps reorganise our brains to program in the changes.

Arakan Martial Art® uses a systematic approach to learning, which follows the above neuroplasticity principles to positively reorganise our brains. One must first be ‘switched on’ and ready to learn. We then give our undivided attention to the moment and have intense focus on what we are about to learn. Each lesson is structured to be experiential and hands-on, so that a new skill set and technique can be practiced. We then practice, practice and practice the new skill until we have successfully created a new neural pathway.

Arakan Martial Art® is unique in its ability to flow from one continuous movement to another, allowing students to become incredibly adaptable yet unpredictable when protecting themselves on the street. We use visualisation when practicing our skill sets and reinforce good behaviour. Each time we practice a new skill set or technique, we are reorganising a positive pattern and discarding what no longer serves us.

We are here to guide, coach, mentor and teach you Arakan Martial Art®. It is more than just learning kicking and striking - it goes well beyond the physical. Our members gain greater focus, empowerment, discipline, and self-awareness, as well as learn efficient self-protection techniques. All attributes which translate into other areas of our member’s lives.

Keep scrolling to read some amazing stories from students diagnosed with autism, ADHD and anxiety, who have benefited hugely from their Arakan Martial Art® training.


Brain function by Dr Andrew Bartlett

Dr Andrew has been an Arakan member for over 15 years and is a chiropractic doctor with a special interest in the brain and clinical neuroscience.

Dr Andrew shares his beliefs on the many benefits of training Arakan and how it improves focus, discipline, fitness and wellbeing, as well as being a vital tool for helping us live happier and more confident lives.

When Jack started at Arakan as a six year old, he had not long been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Jack's ability to socialise with his peers was significantly compromised and with rudimentary verbal communication Jack would spend most of his time on the group fringe mirroring the group play behaviour as his attempt at communication. His low muscle tone meant basic tasks requiring Fine Motor Skills like holding pencils was difficult for him and his Gross Motor such as co-ordination, skipping, hopping, etc was also significantly under-developed. Crossing the mid-line continued to be out of reach.

When a friend recommended we try Arakan, we signed Jack up to 1:1 classes. The gentle and fun approach was an invitation to Jack to play which he did wholeheartedly and with some nervousness on our part 3 weeks later, Jack was introduced to Nathan Hinga and his Junior Group Class. Nathan, the man and Arakan the martial art have had a significant impact on Jack's continued development and recovery from Autism. Four years on we regard Jack's weekly Arakan class as part of Jack's recovery program contributing to improvements in his Physical, Social & Psychological health.

The Arakan community practices true acceptance. Like every student he turns up to train, progresses at his own pace, and his Arakan journey is honored. On this journey he has improved his gross motor skills, learned discipline, focus and importantly, Jack has developed a self confidence and resilience that now sees him running with the group and participating socially with his peers.

It is in no small measure, and with gratitude that we regard Arakan as an important part of Jack's continued progress.

Katrina and Phil, Jack’s parents

At a very young age our son Sam was diagnosed with Autism and Advanced ADHD. This presented and continues to present itself in a number of challenges but the most obvious are the inability to sit still and focus in school or to cope with challenges that put him outside his comfort level.

Sam started doing Arakan when he was 4 and we have seen massive benefits that it has given him over the past several years. One of the main things Arakan has taught him is how to put his mind into a state of being 'switched on'.

When he was younger, he used to have uncontrolable meltdowns that would last several hours but now we are able to prompt him to 'switch on' and he is able to change his state of mind, calm himself down and pull himself out of a meltdown which is a tremendous skill for someone with Autism to have.

Arakan has also helped in so many other ways such as his confidence, better socialisation by being able to recognise social queues, physical fitness and co-ordination. I find that even when Sam is having a tough week as school, within a couple of minutes of his Arakan lessons, his face is relaxed, he has a big smile and all his worries go away while he trains.

I highly recommend Arakan Martial Art to any parent of a child with special needs.. it adds so much to their quality of life!

Dave, father of Sam

My name is Kyle and I love training in Arakan because it has many benefits for my mental and physical health. I have a condition called ASD which is Autism Spectrum Disorder /Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and Anxiety. I am on a couple of different medications and I have been through hardships with my mental health, plenty of meltdowns and I had a physical accident coming off my mountain bike and fracturing my jaw each side.

The reason why I started Martial Arts is because I got bored of just going to the gym and just lifting weights. I also needed something that I can learn to protect myself, boost my confidence, and have a higher purpose.

What Arakan does is make me less socially awkward, more flexible, more fit, athletic, present in the moment and how to defend myself. I train 3 x times a week: two private lessons and one group lesson.

I have also attended seminars with Master Robert Kyaw which has been amazing. I get to meet a lot of people from the Arakan Team and they are all amazing. My instructors are Benett Stone and Jamie Thorne.

I would like to thank the whole Arakan team for all your support, motivation, and good energy.

Kyle Wagner, student since 2019

Register below

for a Complimentary Private Lesson
and a Complimentary Group Class for your child

Knowing and recognising the signs that your child is being bullied is an important first step towards helping your child. The effects of bullying may be longstanding and may carry through from childhood to adulthood. These signs may be also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse.


Neuroplasticity (also known as brain plasticity or brain malleability) is the brains ability to reorganise itself. New research shows this phenomenon continues throughout our adult life.