Top award for Blind instructor

Patricia Gibson MP presented registered blind self defence instructor Michael McAllister with a top martial arts award at the Barony St. John Centre in Ardrossan this week

Patricia had popped into The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety’s charity training centre to watch Michael teach his weekly personal safety / self defence class for people with low or no vision and then surprised him by announcing that he had won the Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame Student Award.

Michael began training in personal safety skills with the charity early last year and passed his instructor exams in September 2016. Since then, he has been working on producing a video of his self defence techniques and has been teaching classes at the Centre every Thursday since April of this year.

News of Michael’s success with his classes for the visually impaired and his transformation from a stay at home person to an outgoing teacher reached the ears of the UK’s best selling martial arts magazine, Martial Arts Illustrated, and Michael was nominated for their Hall of Fame Student Award which he then won.

Speaking at the presentation, Michael McAllister commented; “I am completely stunned and over the moon to have received this award. It’s seems only a short time ago that I was scared to walk alone at night and jumping at any perceived threat or raised voice. Being visually impaired turned me into a bit of a recluse and on a social level, I felt limited and emasculated by my disability.

Now I walk tall, I move with confidence and I know that I can handle any aggressor should I be confronted. Sometimes just knowing that, is all I need to stop myself feeling vulnerable. Only last week I was on the train from Ardrossan to Glasgow and a group of youths started calling me names and throwing papers at me because I am blind. Before I would have been reduced to tears but now I can control my anxiety and fear and remain calm, using my voice to ask them to leave me alone.”

Alan Bell, Executive Manager and Principal Trainer of The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, commented; “All of our instructors have their qualifications ratified through the British Martial Arts and Boxing Association and The Martial Arts Illustrated magazine is the largest martial arts magazine in the UK so to get a Student Award from them is very prestigious and a great honour, not only for Michael but for myself as his instructor. It’s a proud day for all of us and I am delighted that our local MP, Patricia Gibson could come along to present Michael with his award.”