Long Island black belt teaches martial arts to the visually impaired

May 1, 2015

Devin Fernandez, a second degree Ninjutsu black belt, teaches martial arts classes to the visually impaired.

Empowering his students with confidence, second-degree black belt Devin Fernandez teaches Ninjutsu to those with impaired sight, reported Fox News. The martial arts instructor offers his classes free of charge at a donated practice space in Long Island’s West Islip.

Fernandez shares a common connection with his students: He has a degenerative eye disease that has been compromising his vision for ten years. He is now legally blind. Fernandez’s aim in creating Third Eye Insight – a yoga, meditation and martial arts program – is to inspire a strengthened sense of autonomy in others who have visual impairments, according to VisionAware.

Though he’s admired martial arts since childhood, Fernandez didn’t begin taking classes until adulthood. The core tenets of discipline and commitment drew him to Ninjutsu, and he credits the practice with helping him cope with vision loss. The diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa came 15 years ago, at roughly the same time he started his martial arts training.

Rather than focus on the self-defense component of Ninjutsu, he uses the sport to help others find their intuition. He likens martial arts to spiritual practice, and a platform for shared experience.