Martial Arts Therapy, Inc.



Rich Rutkowski


    I am a teacher and Special Olympics coach.  I have been really impressed by the professionalism and patience of instructor Dave Reicher of Martial Arts Therapy.  The program has been very successful for my son.  I have shared this story with many of my athletes' parents.  This is why we have participated in Martial Arts Therapy Classes for years:

    My son Rich started Martial Arts Therapy years ago (2002).  The first year Rich's behavior was very disruptive.  I would cringe when Rich would constantly cause a commotion and disrupt the class.  His first goals were simple; follow direction, general conditioning, and improving his coordination.  Rich said he wanted to go to class but, I had to force him into the car, then during the class he spent the majority of his time being disruptive, leaving class was another commotion. Transition was a major problem for him, and frustrating for me.

    His first class had eight other students with differing levels of ability.  Activities were incorporated where Rich could work towards his goals.  Dave would attempt several different redirections to allow Rich to complete an activity that the other students accomplished without a problem.  In the end, we left after the first year.  I hated leaving because Rich has shown improvement in balance and coordination.  Rich's pediatrician Dr. Attisha and neurologist Dr. Leleszi told me that it was crucial to continue with participating in Martial Arts Therapy.  Yeah right.  I finally told both doctors to come and pick him up and take him to class (knowing that would never happen).  Every special needs parent knows it's easy for someone to tell you to do something when they don't have to do it themselves.

    Dave called the next year 2004 and asked Rich to come back.  I told Rich we won a session of Martial Arts Therapy.  Yes, I tricked him.  Rich thought he won a prize.  He was so excited, we came back.  That was 8 years ago.  I will never regret that decision.  Rich still needed redirection, but little by little his behavior improved.  I was so impressed when he could stand on one foot balancing without support.  He was following directions and had more mobility and balance.  It did not happen overnight, it was a slow but continuous improvement.

    Over the years Rich has matured.  His behaviors improved.  He received only one or two redirections in class about proper etiquette and did not disturb the entire class.  He now has the ability to recoup and participate following the correct technique and rules of an exercise or drill.  He has more control over his impluse and sensory issues.  He was successful in regular PE classes in high school.

    He is now in a class of six advanced students.  He is proud that he was successful in testing for his blue belt.  He now had a karate belt rack to display his accomplishments.  Our instructor Dave has always used positive reinforcement to correct behavior issues.  He teaches with respect and has earned the respect of his students.  He tells parents that a student's behavior does not bother him or other students, that's why this program exists.  The program goals for my son have changed over the 9 year period, focusing on long term social skills.

    I have recommended this class to others knowing that the instructor was tolerant of my son's behavior issues yet firm in the redirection.  The exercises in class promote physical agility and confidence in oneself.  Rich is now able to exercise, learn a martial arts skill and has improved in his social interaction with others in the class and the community.


Darlene Rutkowski

October 2011