Former three-time Filipino Stick-fighting World Champion and Osteopath Andrea Wheatley from Melbourne has overcome serious illness that left her paralysed in one leg to win gold at this year’s World Championships in Cebu City, Philippines.
Andrea won gold in the ladies single stickfighting championship, bronze in the double stick fighting championship and silver in Kuluta – a variation of the martial art where minimal armour is worn and a slightly padded stick is used.
The 6th degree black belt (Master Rank) in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima and Eskrido has fought hard through 35 months of rehabilitation and extensive training in preparation for the August event in a full-contact sport that is not for the faint-hearted.
“In June 2011 I suffered a serious illness and subsequently had a form of paralysis due to damage to the 3 most important nerves to my leg. I had both motor and sensory loss in mixed regions (sciatic, femoral and obturator nerve distributions),” Andrea said.
“For almost 2 years I had numbness on the sole of my foot. As an osteopath I knew that in order to regain function of my leg, it was essential that I could feel the ground with the sole of my foot.
“I found wearing VIVOBAREFOOT shoes was an essential part of the rehabilitation to my leg. I’ve since switched all of my shoes over to VIVOBAREFOOT,” she said.
Andrea’s skills see her competing not only against women, but also against men and recently earned herself 3 gold and a silver medal at the Australasian Stick-Fighting Championships in June.
“It was a great result, but the best thing for me was just being there and to be able to celebrate the movement of my body again,” she said.
The nerve damage causing motor (muscle) and sensory loss involved Andrea’s toes, entire leg and included part of her torso. With a great Neurologist and a team of Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Personal Trainers, Andrea has re-learned to walk and after almost three years of rehab was able to hike 6.8km return up a mountain in Wilson’s Promontory.
Andrea works full-time as an osteopath and is the head instructor of the Filipino Stick-Fighting Martial Arts at the Cacoy Doce Pares Melbourne studio in Alphington, Melbourne. Training is focused on defending, disarming and disabling an opponent and developing sensitivity in the hands and automatic reflexes to help protect a person in a self-defense situation.
About Cacoy Doce Pares
Supreme Grand Master (SGM) Cacoy Cañete is a 95-year-old 12th-degree black belt Filipino martial artist and one of the world’s first mixed martial artists. He is also the last surviving member of the Doce Pares Eskrima Club.
Eskrima – (also known as Arnis or Kali) is a multi-weapon combat system based on a basic pattern of strikes and a series of drills. The goal is to take the practitioner from basic mechanical competency to free-flowing spontaneity.
Eskrido – was invented in 1948 by SGM Cacoy Cañete and is the combination of 3 arts: Eskrima, Judo and Jiu-jitsu and is also influenced by Aikido. It is an advanced close range development of the system that utilises self-defence methods such as stances, hand and arm holds, leg locks, foot sweep, arm shoulder and hip throws, disarms, hand strikes, wrist locks, balance breaking, finger grips, takedowns and many other movements.
In 2004, VIVOBAREFOOT became pioneers of the barefoot movement by launching the first barefoot shoe with a patented, ultra-thin puncture resistant sole that offered maximum sensory feedback and maximum protection – we make the most proprioceptive soles in the world. Our design is driven by the knowledge that 70% of your brain’s information for movement comes from our proprioceptive feedback – mostly from the nerves on the soles of your feet. The more information your brain gets from the feet the more likely it is to make skilful natural movements. To learn more about the skill of movement and to view the range visit www.vivobarefoot.com.au
(Image by Robert Balfour)